I Heard It Through The Grapevine
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- Format: Folded Tract
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- Size: 3.5 inches x 5.5 inches
- Pages: 8
- Version: NIV
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One of the most powerful messages I’ve heard in my life, I heard it through the grapevine. Here’s what happened.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
One day I was walking in a vineyard. It was harvest time and grapes were everywhere. I noticed how ripe and plump the grapes were, so I reached and plucked some from their branches. I wiped them off with a handkerchief and started to eat a few. They were ripe, plump, and they tasted as good as they looked. The ones I didn’t eat, I took home and placed them in the fruit bowl, in the kitchen.
Once I went back to work, I was extremely busy on a project for a few weeks, so I forgot about the grapes. Later, while in the kitchen I noticed that the grapes were discolored and shriveled. What happened that brought about the change in appearance?
When I was in the vineyard and plucked the grapes from their branches, something happened to the grapes; it was not immediately obvious, but something nevertheless happened.
But what was it that happened? The grapes died. You see, the moment I plucked the grapes from the vine, the grapes were separated from the life of the vine and they died. Death is basically the separation of one thing from another that causes a change in relationship between the two. Physical death occurs when the immaterial part of you separates from your material body. Relational death occurs when two people who were once married or dating go their separate ways.
The grapes were alive until I plucked them from their life source. Previously, the soil provided life to the roots, the roots provided life to the vines, the vines provided life to the branches, and the branches provided life to the grapes. This chain was broken when I plucked the grapes from the vine; when that happened, they died.
Initially, they didn’t look or feel dead, but in spite of appearances, they were dead. Even though they had been plucked from the vine, they still had some of the life of the vine in them. However, since it was not being replenished, it was just a matter of time before I saw the effects of this separation. It took a while before the symptoms of death were seen, but after a while they became discolored and shriveled.
When the grapes were separated from their life source, they began the slow process of death and decay.
This is what happened to all of humanity when we were separated from the life of God through the sin of Adam. In Adam, we all died. Just as children inherit qualities from the parents, we inherited a death sentence from Adam, the father of us all. We don’t look dead but we are dead nevertheless; the corruption and the decay of humanity is proof of our death. How else can you explain the evil and wickedness in the world? What we see and do is evidence of our death and decay. Dead people produce dead works: works like hatred, murder, greed, selfishness, lies and much more. You see, what we do is evidence of our condition.
In our youth, we don’t look as though we are dying. We are strong and energetic; but as time passes, we too become discolored and shriveled. Our steps become shortened, our sight dims, our skin wrinkles and our pains are more frequent in occurrences, and varied in location.
We are all dying. Regardless of your race, your economic status, power or prestige, you are dying. The rich die, the poor die, black, white, brown, yellow, we all die. Since death is inevitable, it is incumbent upon you to find out as much as possible about what happens after you die, because when you die, it is too late to gather information.
How you choose to live reveals what you believe happens when we die. If you believe there is no existence beyond death, you will live only for the here and now. You view life as an occasion to do whatever you want with no restraints because when you die, none of it matters. But before you commit your life to that reasoning, you must ask the question, why do I believe what I believe? When you believe something with no credible evidence to support it, you become an extreme gambler. You are gambling your future on nothing more than a guess. In a court of law, a person’s guilt or innocence is established by credible evidence, not a guess.
The resurrection of Jesus was God’s response to death. He went into death and came out of it never to die again; in doing so He conquered death. Death could only be conquered by someone who can never die. After the resurrection of Jesus, it was impossible for Him to die again. He lives forever.
But why should you believe that Jesus rose from the dead and lives today? I am not asking you to take a blind leap of faith. I am encouraging and inviting to scrutinize the claims of Jesus. A faith that cannot withstand scrutiny cannot be trusted.
There are few people who doubt Jesus of Nazareth died under Pontius Pilate in the early part of the first century A.D., but many doubt that the physical body of Jesus that was laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea came back to life. What then is the evidence for the physical resurrection of Christ? The evidence is overwhelming. First, the guarded and sealed tomb was found empty a few days later. The same physical body placed in the tomb permanently vacated it alive (Matthew 28:6). Second, the same body that had been placed there appeared for the next 40 days to more than 500 people on 12 different occasions (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).
During these appearances, Jesus proved that He was raised in the same physical body in which He died by revealing that He had flesh and bones, showing His crucifixion scars and challenging Thomas to touch His wounds. He could be seen with the naked eye and heard with natural ears. He taught His disciples for 40 days and performed miracles in front of them. There is no other possible way that Jesus could have proven that He had risen in the same body in which He had been crucified and which was laid in Joseph’s tomb.
Little wonder that Peter, an apostle and eyewitness of Jesus’ death and resurrection, declared: “We did not follow cleverly devised stories” (2 Peter 1:16). And John said, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life” (1 John 1:1-3).
Jesus was a prominent figure in Israel, and many people knew His burial site. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John record the exact location. Both Roman and Jewish sources testify that the tomb was found empty on the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion. We might also add that both Roman leaders and the religious leaders surely sought His body in an attempt to disprove the resurrection, but it could not be found.
The chief priests invented the story that the disciples stole the body (you can read it in Matthew 28:12-13). There would be no need for this lie if the tomb had not been empty. And the preaching of the apostles would not have lasted if the tomb had not been empty, because the Jewish authorities could have easily put an end to Christianity by producing Jesus’ body. All they had to do was produce the body and Christianity would cease to be. Produce the body and there is nothing else to preach. Produce the body and He is proven to be a fraud.
Also, the Gospels record that while Jesus was on trial, the disciples deserted Him in fear. Just a few days later, however, they suddenly returned to Jerusalem full of faith and began preaching that Jesus was the Messiah and had risen from the dead. What made them go from deserting Jesus to boldly declaring the gospel? They were changed because of what or rather Who they had seen, the resurrected Lord.
The disciples knew this message would bring them a life of suffering and even death. Ten out of eleven remaining apostles after Judas’ death were murdered because they believed Jesus rose from the dead, and refused to stop preaching the resurrection. Why would they do this if they knew that Jesus had not risen from the dead? They did what they did because they believed. There are many beliefs concerning what happens when we die, but most have no credible, historical or personal evidence. You must ask yourself, who gives me the most credible, historical, personal, evidence of what happens when I die? The answer is Jesus.
What Do You Believe?
Do you believe Jesus rose from the dead? Your answer to this question will determine your eternal destiny. Think it through, and investigate it, scrutinize it thoroughly, because the stakes are high. Jesus wants you to live with Him eternally. That is why He came, died and rose. But what does eternal life really mean? Trying to explain eternity can be difficult, and the illustration I’m about to give is woefully inadequate, but it is the best I can do.
Imagine that there is one rope that stretches from earth to another planet billions of miles away: this rope is eternity. Now imagine that one inch of that rope is the sum total of your physical life. Whether you live 5 years or 105, all you have is that inch. Most decisions are made with only the inch in mind. We invest the most into that which is the least. The decisions you make while you have the inch will determine where you will spend eternity. For some people, the inch is about making as much money was possible. For others, it’s about denying themselves no pleasure, and breaking all the rules. They make the money, enjoy the pleasure and live on their own terms for an inch of time, and then comes eternity. The question then becomes, is what you get from the inch worth what it will cost in eternity?
You see, after your physical life is over, you will exist somewhere forever. The question is, where will you exist? Will you be with God, or eternally separated from Him? Jesus died and rose that you may be with God forever. You have an inch of time to decide what you believe about the death and resurrection of Jesus. The decision is too important to take lightly.
My prayer for you is that the Holy Spirit will move on your heart and you will choose to accept what God has done through Jesus. John 3:16 reads, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” There is life after death, and this life has a name, Jesus.
Today, confess Jesus to be your Savior, live as though He is your Lord and receive the life He has promised.