This essential topic begins in the first book of the Bible. Abraham was willing to obey the command of God knowing that raising the dead was the only way possible for the great promises could be fulfilled – read Genesis 24 along with Romans 4 and Hebrews 11.
The resurrection of Jesus is foretold in Psalm 16 (connect with Acts 2). It is implied in Psalm 110. Resurrection was the only way Isaiah 53 could finish with victory. For Israel to look upon the one whom ‘they had pierced’, the raising of the suffering Messiah was vital. Jesus Himself explained that His sufferings and resurrection were prophesied in the Old Testament(Luke 24)
I come to the teachings of the Lord Jesus himself. We noticed previously that He foretold his death on various occasions. At least three times He stated that He would rise again. This was clarified and emphasized in the communication to the disciples recorded in John 13 – 17. The statements that ”He was going away” referred to His impending death. Then He said “I will see you again, -- and you will rejoice” – this was a direct reference to His rising from the dead.
The one that has relevance to us is John 10. There He states that God the Father had given Him authority, a command to lay down His life and then take it up again. This is so relevant, because we as wandering sheep need the Good Shepherd to save us. If He is yet in the grave then we have no hope of being saved!
The events of Jesus’s resurrection are recorded by four different persons. The variation in the accounts indicates there was no collusion, but rather different perspectives at different times.
I would like to work backwards from the book of the Revelation. John claims to have had a real vision of the living Lord Jesus. To John He said “ I am He that lives. I was dead but now am alive forevermore”. This truth was so real to John that he along with the other apostles, was willing to die for it. In our generation, many middle eastern people have visions of the Lord Jesus and do die for believing in Him.
In one of the earliest writings of the new testament (1 Corinthians), Paul calls on any doubters to go speak to the witnesses still alive. He quotes 500 who witnessed the reality of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Paul himself had a most significant encounter with the risen Lord. As he travelled to Damascus, he was blinded by light and heard a voice. The voice responded “ I am Jesus” - a transformed Saul dedicated the rest of his life to the service of this risen master.
I am always interested to listen to the voice of good angels. Two of these stood on the mount of Olives and said – “This same Jesus whom you have seen go into heaven will so come in like manner.” - They had no doubt about the reality of Jesus alive and ascended. Likewise on the resurrection morning the angel announced to the women seeking the body of Jesus. “He is not here, He is risen. Come see the place where they laid Him”.
In the record of the Gospel writers, the risen Jesus appeared to many witnesses, demonstrating He was the same Jesus that had been crucified, with the difference that now He was alive in Spirit dominated humanity – ie the limits of nature did not prevent Him entering locked doors etc
An interesting observation is :- now risen in power, He did not seek revenge on those who had rejected an crucified Him. True their house was left unto them desolate and later destroyed. But rather He commissioned the disciples to take the message of repentance and forgiveness to the whole world! This could only be achieved by the Holy Spirit who was sent down from heaven by the risen exalted Lord!
Of course there were, and still are doubters. Some say the disciples stole the body and made the story – well not likely when the tomb was guarded and sealed with the Roman seal. If the Jews or Romans had stolen the body, they could have quickly stopped this new movement by producing the body.
Now to the millions of Christian across the globe, His resurrection brings the assurance of salvation and the glorious hope of the future. This was captured well by the hymn
“And because He lives
I can face tomorrow
Because He lives all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the futureAnd life is worth the living – just because He lives”