As we’ve looked at the ministry of Jesus Christ we’ve seen that Jesus ministered on earth with the authority of God. Jesus had God’s authority as a teacher. And He had authority over sickness, nature, and evil spirits. Jesus also had the authority of God to forgive sins, as well as having authority over people, even you and me.
One of the things we’ll be elaborating on a bit more in the following is Jesus’ authority over death. We already considered what happened in the case Jesus Christ’s own death. We thought about what was taking place during the three hours of darkness that descended and ended when Jesus was on the cross.
We saw that the darkness was supernatural, and that it lifted at the same time the veil or curtain in the Temple was supernaturally torn from top to bottom. Both the darkness and the veil were torn in two the very moment the last breath left Jesus.
We noted that God had transferred our sin (i.e., that which separates us from Him) to Jesus. And when God had done this Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” We saw in these words that Jesus was receiving the punishment that our sins deserve.
When Jesus died the veil that represented our separation from God was torn in two. At that point Jesus, by the Spirit, entered into the very presence of God with His own shed blood. And because of His perfect substitutionary life and death we too may enter into the very presence of God through Him.
So, keep in mind then from before when we looked at Christ’s authority, that Jesus has authority over death. And why should it surprise us that Jesus has authority over death. He raised others from the dead. We shouldn’t be surprised then that He raised Himself from the dead. That’s what we’re looking at in particular in the following.
The Resurrection Anticipated
For the moment I would like us to consider some Old Testament verses that speak of resurrection in general. And by resurrection we mean the actual physical raising of a physically dead person. We’re talking about the resurrection of the body from the grave.
In the Old Testament the grave is usually referred to by the Hebrew word Sheol – the place of the dead. In the New Testament it is called Hades. Both Sheol and Hades therefore refer to the place of the dead. Now, the place of the dead may be under the ground or under the sea. And I suppose in today’s terms we need to include the moon, Mars, anywhere in outer space!
So, with all of this in mind, when the Bible speaks of resurrection it is speaking of what is going to happen on the Last Day; which is the Day of Judgment. We shall see a little later that there is going to be a Day of Judgment because Jesus Christ has been resurrected from the dead. But before we go there we need to consider a few verses in the Old Testament that anticipate the resurrection
The first verse I would like to bring to your attention is Genesis 3:15 – the Gospel Promise. The LORD God in this verse is addressing the Serpent, and the Lord says, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
We’ve already seen the Serpent’s head take a bruising at Christ’s crucifixion, haven’t we? Jesus crushed Satan’s head when He redeemed from God’s justice that which Satan had stolen! The Devil had taken the whole world captive, but Jesus on the cross tied up Satan-the-strongman and is now in the process of plundering the tied-up strongman’s house! But we also witnessed that Jesus, the Seed of the Woman, took also a bit of a bruising Himself. Whereas the Serpent’s head was bruised, which is a mortal and everlasting blow, the Seed of the Woman’s heel got it, which was fatal only for a moment. The crushing defeat for Satan was in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ means that God’s justice has been satisfied. Which means that no matter how much the Devil tried to get Jesus to sin, he failed miserably. Had Jesus sinned in deed, word, or even thought, Satan would have been victorious over Christ! And if Satan had been victorious over Christ we all would perish: meaning that we’d all stew in the juices of our own sins in the fiery kitchen of Hell for all eternity!
So, here’s the picture: as a snake or serpent bites the heel of a man, so Satan bit the heel of our Saviour. And as the venom of a serpent can be deadly, so the Viper’s vitriol was aimed at Jesus. But when a serpent strikes at a man’s heel, it leaves its head prone to being crushed by that same heel!
Christ’s resurrection proves that Satan has failed in his war against Christ. Therefore Christ’s resurrection was the Serpent’s crushing defeat! And, as Paul says to the Romans, “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” Rom. 16:20. We crush Satan under our feet because he no longer has any power over us. We no longer fear death because Jesus Christ has been raised. Satan used to have power or control over us because we used to fear death. As Paul, referring to the Old Testament, says to the Corinthians, “‘Death is swallowed up in victory. ’‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’” 1Corinthians 15:54b&55. We believe Paul here has in mind Isaiah 25:8, and Hosea 13:14. Isaiah 25:8a says, “He will swallow up death forever, and the LORD God will wipe away tears from all faces…”
So we see then that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was God dealing death an everlastingly fatal blow. Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection was the beginning of God’s swallowing up death forever. Therefore when God began destroying death, He was at the same time extracting the teeth or fangs from the Serpent. The Devil, therefore, has no real weapon to use against Christians.
Speaking of His people, the LORD God in Hosea 13:14 says, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.” Death is the wages of sin. Jesus received our wages for us. Jesus was our ransom. Thus He redeemed us from death. The just wrath of God upon our sins is death. Thus death is the wages of sin. But the LORD God is gracious to His people. For He has cursed death and has (in principle) destroyed the abode or the place of the dead, Sheol or Hades, which is the grave.
Therefore the dead do not rest in their graves forever. No, as Daniel says in Daniel 12:2, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.” The prophet Isaiah sounds out the good news to all believers where he says, “Your dead body shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” Isaiah 26:19.
And I don’t think we should overlook the general principle of resurrection taught in Ezekiel 37 regarding the Valley of Dry Bones. The LORD God asked Ezekiel the question: “Can these dry bones live?’ Ezekiel 37:12&13, “Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened up your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves.”’”
And who can forget the words of Job? Job 19:25-27, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me.” We see that Job believed that he was going to be redeemed from death, even ransomed from the power of the grave.
So, we see from these few verses that the resurrection was not some new teaching that Jesus brought with Him. But rather that it is the teaching throughout the Scriptures.
And just before we move on, here’s an Old Testament verse that applies to Christ’s resurrection. David, the psalmist says in Psalm 16:9&10, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” Jesus Christ is, of course, the “Holy One” whose body will not undergo any decay in the abode of the dead. Peter, in Acts 2:27 shows that this refers to Jesus, and not king David.
So, we’ve seen that ours’ and Christ’s resurrection is not something that is foreign to the Old Testament. The fact of the resurrection therefore is anticipated in the Old Testament. So let’s now consider how the resurrection applies to us in the New Testament.
The Resurrection Applied
Jesus in Mark 10:32-34 told His twelve Disciples about His anticipated death and resurrection. He told them that He was going up to Jerusalem. That He was going to be betrayed to the chief priest and scribes of the Jews. And that He was going to be condemned to death by them and delivered by them to the Gentiles. The Gentiles are of course the Romans who were occupying Jerusalem at that time. These Gentiles were going to mock Him, whip Him, spit on Him, and kill Him. And then Jesus says of Himself in Mark 10:34b, “And the third day He will rise again.”
So we see then in these verses that Jesus is applying the resurrection to Himself. He is anticipating that He will rise again from the abode of the dead after the Jews and Gentiles are through killing Him. Therefore, at least the Twelve Disciples should have been anticipating Christ’s resurrection.
Now then, we see according to Mark 16:7 that three women were told by an angel at the empty tomb to tell the Disciples and Peter that they would see Jesus in Galilee “as He said to you.” Yet we learn that the Twelve Disciples were taken completely by surprise by Christ’s resurrection. We all know about “Doubting Thomas”, don’t we? He said, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand in His side, I will not believe.” John 20:25.
Why is it so hard for people to believe in the resurrection? To put the same question another way, why do people believe that death is so final? Do you think it’s because we sense inherently that death is the judgment of God? Well, that’s what Paul means when he says in Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…” In other words, we know instinctively that the wages of sin is death. We know that death is the wrath of God against our ungodliness and our unrighteousness. Therefore we see death as God’s judgment upon our sin.
And if death is God’s judgment upon our sin, then we wouldn’t expect to see anyone resurrected, because this would seem to mean that they’ve somehow escaped God’s wrath. But we’ve seen already that Jesus suffered the wrath of God on the cross. And we discovered that Jesus on the cross was receiving God’s judgment upon sin. However, we saw that God had given to Jesus the sin of the world. As we know, Jesus had no sin of His own, for that’s the point of the resurrection.
God, being just, could not let Jesus undergo any corruption or decay in the grave, because Jesus was without any sin of His own. It would be scandalous for God to leave Jesus in the tomb! Therefore God’s Divine justice being satisfied with the life and death of Jesus Christ, He raised Him. God had nothing to pin on sinless and perfect Jesus. Jesus owed God nothing. He had no debt. Therefore God had to let Him out of the abode of the dead – the grave.
So, we see even more clearly how Christ’s resurrection applies to us by looking at Acts 10:39-43. Look at Acts 10:42&43 in particular, “And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
We see in these verses that all people, i.e., everyone will be raised whether living now or dead. We see this in the words “the living and the dead” mentioned at the end of v. 42. Therefore no one living or dead is going to miss out on the general resurrection. And we also see in v. 42 that all people will be judged, because the Judge is judge of the living and the dead. And we see that the resurrected Jesus is the Judge, because God has ordained or appointed Him Judge. And we also see that there will be two groups of people – those who believe in Him will receive remission or forgiveness of their sins. Therefore those who do not believe will not have remission of their sins.
But, let’s consider the fact of the resurrection of all people who have ever lived. You might think that it’s a great thing to be resurrected, until you consider more deeply what’s going on here. John in Revelation 20:11-15 gives us a picture of what happens on Judgment Day. He says in Rev. 20:13, “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged each one according to their works.”
So we see then that there is no escape from the resurrection. And if there is no escape from the resurrection, then there is no escape from Judgment Day. We’ll all be there – every last one of us! But there is good news for those who believe in Jesus Christ. They receive remission of sins. Therefore if your works have been done in Jesus Christ you can look forward to Judgment Day. Which is to say that if you are presently believing in the Gospel for salvation you will be saved on Judgment Day. But we should know that all people will be judged. Therefore we shall all give account to God on Judgment Day for what we have done while alive. And since God has ordained or appointed the resurrected Jesus as our Judge, we need to make sure that we are right with Him now, don’t we?
We should also note that Christ’s resurrection means our resurrection. In other words, because Jesus has been raised from the dead, we will be resurrected. And by the same token, because Jesus has been resurrected, our Judgment by Him is definite. Jesus therefore has been resurrected as our Judge. So, this is where it gets really personal. How is Jesus going to Judge you? As believer, or unbeliever? Remember, the believer is the one who receives remission or forgiveness for their sins now, i.e., before they die, and is acquitted on Judgment Day.
How does the believer receive the forgiveness of his sins? Well, he receives forgiveness for his sins through believing in Jesus and what He has done. Jesus went to the cross as the Saviour of sinners. Therefore the believer believes himself to be a sinner and desires Jesus to be his Saviour.
But what about those who don’t have, or don’t want, Jesus to be their personal Saviour? Well, Jesus says in Mark 8:38, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Do you see what Jesus is saying here? He’s saying that those who reject Him now, will be rejected by Him when He comes as Judge. Receive Him now and He will receive you then. It’s all sheep and goats, isn’t it? Wheat and weeds! Heaven and Hell!
As the question is sometimes put: Where will you spend eternity? If you’ve been paying attention you should be anticipating the resurrection. And you should now know how the resurrection applies to you personally. We’ve seen that Christ’s resurrection means our resurrection. And we’ve seen that Christ’s resurrection means our judgment.
In the words of Paul the Apostle in Acts 17:31, “He [i.e., God] has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Therefore, to have Jesus now, is to have Jesus the Judge acquit you on Judgment Day. But to die rejecting Jesus is to have Him condemn you on Judgment Day.
Therefore if you haven’t already, by the grace of God, choose life and follow Jesus.
(Excerpted from my book "Demystifying the Gospel" @ US Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/DEMYSTIFYING-THE-GOSPEL-ebook/dp/B006X51ZGY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364518054&sr=8-1&keywords=demystifying+the+gospel
UK Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/DEMYSTIFYING-THE-GOSPEL-ebook/dp/B006X51ZGY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364518248&sr=8-1
For list of all my books see Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/list/5464221.Neil_Cullan_McKinlay