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Re: Understanding the Resurrection

"Then Simon Peter came, following [John], and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they DID NOT UNDERSTAND the SCRIPTURE, that it was necessary for Him to rise again from the dead." (Jn20:6-9)

"Then He said to them, These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me. And He opened their mind to UNDERSTAND THE SCRIPTURES. And He said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins be preached in His name to all nations, beginning out of Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things." (Lk24:44-48)

This is the very key to the Gospel message, as Paul reviews: "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are being kept safe, if you hold fast that Word which I preached to you; unless you believe in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised the third day according to the Scriptures," (1co15:1-4)

This is at the core of Jewish persecution of the early Church: "Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the temple commander, and the Sadducees came near them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead." (Ac4:1-2) And was the basis for Paul's imprisonment. (Ac23:6,28:20)

And is at the root of current unbelief, both of Jew and Gentile. The Jews are disdainful about "that man", not believing that Jesus was truly Messiah, but instead back then cried out, "Let Him be crucified!" and, "His blood be on us and on our children" (Mt27:23,25)

And the latest thing: some alleged papyrus artifacts that a Jew collector has, and a gentile alleges to have seen, claiming to document that Jesus never actually really died on the cross, but was removed from the tomb at night, after the crucifixion, yet alive. This, really, is nothing new; before the "Jesus papers" were allegedly 'discovered' in a Jerusalem archaeological dig 40-some years ago, scoffers were suggesting that Jesus merely 'swooned' (fainted) on the cross.

First of all, before discussing the resurrection, let's get one thing straight. JESUS DIED. There are at least three knowledgable official declarations of this.

  1. When the soldier came up to where Jesus was hanging, he saw that Jesus was "already dead". (Jn19:33) Roman soldiers were skilled in the art of killing, and also knew what death looked like.

  2. When the soldier speared Jesus' side, it says that "blood and water came out" (vs34) The only way blood is separated out into its parts is if it is not flowing. In the lab when they want to achieve this quickly, they use a centrifuge, because otherwise it takes a period of 'time' for the settling/separation to take place. The fact that it came out of the wound already separated meant that Jesus' body had been dead for some time before the soldier came along; enough time that He certainly did not merely 'faint', with the ability to be resuscitated. The body would also have been brain-dead.

  3. This was corroborated by the centurian to Pilate that he "had been dead for awhile" (Mk15:44) A 'centurian' saying this to Pilate would be like the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs giving information to President Bush. It was 'official' information. It was verified as being true. Today pundits speak of Bush receiving "bad intelligence", and sometimes people get fired or demoted from their positions; but in those days, if somebody relayed false intelligence, they did so at the peril of their life, so it HAD BETTER BE TRUE! And it was.
In the O.T. the resurrection was ceremonialized each year after the Passover observances. The "sheaf of the firstfruits" was waved by the priest "on the day after the Sabbath" (Lev23:10-12); at which time they also offered a "male lamb". The day after the Sabbath is what we call Sunday, or in the N.T., "after the Sabbath", the "first day of the week", when Jesus was resurrected. (Mt28:1, Mk16:9, Lk24:1)

Firstfruits is related to harvest observances. The harvest included the ritual of leaving the "gleanings"; leaving them for the "poor and the sojourner". (Lev23:22) The first teaching of Jesus on the mount was: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven" (Mt5:3) And the sojourner? That's the "gentiles to take out of them a people for His name" (Ac15:14) because, "in His name the Gentiles will hope" (Mt12:21)

Jesus' resurrection is the "firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1Co15:20)

Why is the resurrection necessary? Through Adam came death. (1Co15:21-22) It was proclaimed, "for in the day you eat of it you shall die the death" (Gen2:17) Eve was deceived by the serpent, and Adam followed her in disobedience, and therefore the death they received "spread to every person, because everyone sinned" (Rom5:12)

But why cannot man just be resurrected, by himself? The body in which he died, just come back to life again? Why is it necessary for Jesus to have risen first? Because Adam -founded- 'death'. He was the first man, and he instituted death. Somebody needed to found/institute Life. How can a dead man initiate life? How can a lineage of death create life? Death had come about because of sin, and sin cannot be UN-committed. Someone who was sin-LESS needed to begin a new lineage.

There is a terrible mistranslation of a famous passage, and also became popularized in annual repetitions of performances of Handel's "Messiah". Job gloriously proclaims "I know that my Redeemer liveth" (Job19:25); which is true. But the mis-translation goes on, "yet in my flesh shall I see God" (vs26 kjv) What's wrong with that? Isn't that a glorious proclamation of the hope of the resurrection? Well: yes and no.

Paul proclaims that "...flesh and blood is not able to inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption" (1Co15:50)

In our human frailty in sin God "remembers that we are dust" (Ps103:14); and at death, back to dust we return. (Gen3:19) Adam and Eve never partook of the Tree of Life, and after sinning were barred from it. (Gen3:22,24) which is only for those who "do His commandments" (Re22:14)

Thus, "yet in my flesh" I CANNOT SEE GOD! Because "those who are in the flesh are not able to please God" (Rom8:8)

What Job said was: "and after my skin has been struck off from my flesh, I shall see God" (Job19:26)

Is not the striking of the skin from the flesh an expression of what it means for the body to rot in the ground after death. The body decomposes to where the body parts are no longer distinguishable. And yet, after that happens, after there was no more physical evidence left of his existence on this earth, Job was confident that he would see God.

How would this happen? Paul explains it.

Everything in creation has a "body" as God "purposed" it. (1Co15:38) And contrary to the delusions of evolution, NOT every living creature is 'related' to each other. The "flesh" of man, animals, birds and fish is all different. (vs39)

When man dies in corruption, weakness and dishonor, due to sin; the resurrection is in incorruption, glory and power. Our bodies are currently of nature; but in the resurrection, in spirit. Adam was made a "living soul" (vs45, Gen2:7); but the resurrection is "life-giving Spirit" (vs45b)

An observation of this last comment: consider how God's command was strict about not eating blood, because the "soul is in the blood" (Gen9:4, Lev17:11) Notice also that "flesh and blood" cannot get to God's Kingdom. (1Co15:50) When Jesus re-introduces Himself to the disciples after His resurrection He invites them to come and touch Him, and He says, "a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have" (Lk24:39) If this "natural" that is "soul" has -blood-, but the resurrection is "life-giving Spirit"... some have suggested from this that Jesus' resurrected body did not have blood; since He said "flesh and bones". And it is suggested by this same logic that in resurrection the Believers' bodies will not have blood, either. An interesting observation that I am not prepared to be personally dogmatic about; but an interesting speculation, nonetheless.

But why is a resurrection...any resurrection...necessary? Because without a resurrection, Satan wins. "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, [Jesus] Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil," (Heb2:14) And what is satan's desire? "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High." (Is14:14)

When the resurrection is fully fulfilled...

"So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the Law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1Co15:54-57)

And of satan? "Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the recesses of the Pit." (Is14:15)

If the "wages of sin is death" (Rom6:23), the "soul who sins shall die" (Ezk18:4,20); and God is claiming to provide atonement for sin through Jesus' sacrifice (Is53:11); but if there is no resurrection... of what benefit is such an atonement? If the person remains dead, in punishment; such an atonement is NO ATONEMENT. It is a farce.

And since "it is appointed for men to die once, and after this the judgment" (Heb9:27); why should anybody become a Christian? Any sort of "faith" in Christ is "vain" (useless); we are still in our sins. (1co15:17-19) And if Christ -remained- dead, why would anybody be so foolish as to follow a dead man? Why live lives of sorrow and persecution, only to die a miserable death, to an eternity of judgment. Of course, if Christ -remained- dead, then what sort of "god" is He? If He promised judgment, but is now dead... how do dead men prosecute judgment? So then, Hell (the Lake of Fire) is also a farce!

But if Jesus is the One in whom "all things consist" (Co1:17), In whom we "live and move and exist" (Ac17:28), and we look at ourselves and can 'pinch' ourselves and know we exist... we also know that Jesus is alive. And if He died...then He also was resurrected. Otherwise, if He did not rise from the dead, he is no longer holding all things together by the Word of His power, and we don't exist. But we -do- exist. And Paul also confidently asserts...

"But now Christ has been raised from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since through man came death, through Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam everyone dies, even so in Christ everyone shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christís at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God, even the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For it is necessary for Him to reign till He has put every enemy under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death." (1Co15:20-26)

If we ever wish to have any hope of getting to Heaven, into God's Kingdom... it is not possible without the resurrection. At the resurrection those who died receive new 'spiritual' bodies; not the same old bodies of dust. (Job will have a new body; not the same old one he was scratching at with broken pieces of pottery) And those who are "living and believing into [Jesus] shall never ever die" (Jn11:26), as Paul says, "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" and given new incorruptible bodies. (1Co15:51-54)

Jesus proclaimed, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (Jn14:6) This is the Gospel message, that it is only through Jesus that salvation is possible. (Ac4:12,10) Jesus "gives life" to whomever He wishes (Jn5:21); and He is able to do this because, by definition, He -is-... He proclaims: "I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live" (Jn11:25)

The Jews persecuted the Church for proclaiming the resurrection of the One they had ordered crucified: "whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead" (Ac4:10). But they had already been pre-commemorating it for centuries in waving the "sheaf of the firstfruits", and making it available to Gentiles through the harvest gleanings. Right now, while Israel is yet in unbelief, God is still calling in the "fullness of the Gentiles" (Rom11:25) as He is "taking out of them a people for His name" (Ac15:14)

But a day is coming (soon!) when Israel's Messiah will return to them, and then: "..I will pour on the house of David, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication. And they shall look on Me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they shall be bitter over Him, like the bitterness over the firstborn." (Zec12:10)

"And all your children shall be taught of Jehovah, and great shall be the peace of your children." (Is54:13)

"And they shall no more teach each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Jehovah. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." (Jer31:34)

In Corinth apparently some argued that there was no such thing as a resurrection; which is why ch15 was written. In Thessalonica scoffers taunted Believers that the resurrection had already happened. (2Th2:2) Today the topic is the companion event, the Rapture. Some scoff and say the Rapture isn't until way 'later'. Others say that there is no such thing as a rapture.

But to deny either the resurrection or rapture is to deny the very essence of Jesus Christ. Jesus makes the self-claim "I am the resurrection and the life" and in the next verse speaks of those who won't ever die (rapture). (Jn11:25-26) In response to this statement Martha proclaims: "Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who comes into the world" (vs27) In 1Corinthians ch15 Paul speaks mostly of the resurrection. (Recommended that you open your Bible and read the entire chapter in one sitting) And includes the Rapture addendum for "We shall not all sleep" (vs51)

For most people who have ever existed on earth, the event they experience is the Resurrection; because over the centuries, they died. In considering 6000 years of earth's history, the Believers who are "living and believing" at the moment Jesus comes to raise those who "sleep in Jesus" is relatively insignificant. But the event is just as sure as the promise to raise the dead. And it happens IN CONJUNCTION WITH the Resurrection. The dead are raised, and then those just raised, and the living who have also just been given their new incorruptible bodies in the "twinkling of an eye" (1Co15:52), are "together at the same time" taken up to be with Jesus. (1Th4:16-17) And "then comes the end". (1Co15:24)

These days, as -living- Believers anticipate our Lord's return, the talk is of "rapture, rapture, rapture". That's because, THAT is what a living Believer looks forward to. But let's not forget that the -greater- event (in terms of numbers) is the Resurrection. If Jesus -is- the "resurrection" (and the life), Jesus -is- also the "rapture".

If the Resurrection is part of the definition of Jesus' essence, so too is the Rapture. If a person denies the resurrection, by definition, they also deny Jesus Christ, who -is- the resurrection. By the same token, if a person denies the rapture (of which there are many today), they also have denied Jesus Christ. They may have "made claims for Jesus", but they don't believe His promise, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (Jn14:3) If they don't believe Jesus' promise, how can they make legitimate claims to -knowing- "Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death," (Php3:10) and thus: having "died with Christ" to "believe that we shall also live with Him" (Rom6:8) ??

Notice that while Paul speaks of Jesus' death and preaches about the "cross of Christ" (1Co1:17), and "dying" with Him (Rom6:1-7) the emphasis is in "living with Him" (Rom6:8); His resurrection: "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection..." (Php3:10) Jesus' -identity- is "...defined as the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." (Rom1:4) John had watched the horrors of the crucifixion; but Faith came when he "saw [evidence of Jesus' resurrection] and believed". It is the very foundation of Saving Faith: "...BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART that God has RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, you will be SAVED." (Rom10:9)

Thus, to truly understand the Resurrection (and Rapture) -is- to know and have "received" Jesus Christ. (Jn1:12) They go hand-in-hand.

Amen!