His Resurrection

The earliest recording of the resurrection of Christ is attached to an appearance that can be understood as a miracle. Mark writes, “he appeared in another form to two of them, as they walked and went into the country” (Mk. 16:1-12) This appearance is immediately after the two Marys and Salome are told by the angel to go tell the disciples that “He is Risen”, Matthew 28:8-9 His body is not recorded in the gospels as being in another form until after the resurrection. The very idea of changing the form of a body is surely connected to the idea of having an incorruptible and immortal body, as Paul describes in 1st Corinthians 15:42-54. 

The reason Jesus is the “firstborn from the dead”, Col.1:18 & Rev. 1:5, is because no one raised him up, He was God with us. So when the Scriptures proclaim the “Father raised” him, Romans 6:4 & Galatians 1:1, we understand that it was the self-same power of the Father in His Glory that raised him. Afterall, it was prophetically proclaimed by Isaiah that he would be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace, in Isaiah 9:6. How can anyone be both the Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace simultaneously? The resurrection of Christ proves that only he could. This position is best understood as Jesus is the only person in Scripture described as having the Spirit of God without measure, John 3:34. So it was impossible that the grave (power of death) could hold him by himself. He abolished it, 2nd TImothy 1:10.                      

BENEFITS OF HIS RESURRECTION

  1. The resurrection is evidence that Christianity is true: “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Cor 15:17). Over 500 eye-witnesses could testify.
  2. The resurrection proves the believer will overcome death: “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?” (1 Cor 15:54-55). 
  3. The resurrection helps you grieve differently: “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope” (1 Thess 4:13). 
  4. The resurrection guarantees you eternal life: “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). 
  5. The resurrection guarantees that you will have a glorious new body: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Phil 3:20-21). 
  6. The resurrection means Jesus intercedes for you: “Who is  he who condemns? It is  Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Rom 8:34). 
  7. The resurrection motivates us to put away sin and obey Christ in baptism: “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4)

The Power of Resurrecting

Biblically, the idea of the resurrection had to be in the mind of Abraham, when he said to his servants, “we will return” (Gen. 22:1-6) knowing that he was about to sacrifice his son Isaac. Somehow Abraham had faith in the resurrection of his own son, before any recorded resurrections in the Bible. Even the funeral rites of the ancient Egyptian idol Osiris (appx 2400BC) contain written ideas about the resurrection of the dead. Resurrecting people from the dead, was an astounding, yet most desired ancient belief. For anyone to perform a resurrection or be resurrected was more than just amazing, it was stupendous and always related to the power of God, not mere humans! So it is reasonable to understand why some people find it strange that Matthew, Mark & Luke do not record John’s story of Lazarus, and only Luke tells us about the son of the widow in Nain. The only resurrection story that the gospel writers share is the daughter of Jairus! Doesn’t that sound strange to you? The conundrum is solved when we consider the obvious fact that Jesus is the Resurrection (Jn. 11:25) & the Life, therefore it is his own resurrection which is more important than any other miracle recorded. So the gospel writers, most likely felt compelled to highlight the resurrection of Jesus rather than anyone else’s resurrection. The doctrinal reason is in Colossians  1:18 & Revelation 1:5. Where both John and Paul use the title “Firstborn from the Dead” towards Jesus. What does this mean? – From whose resurrection flows all the life, spiritual and eternal, of all his family. All other people in the past or in the future that were resurrected, get their power from the firstborn from the dead, that is Christ Jesus. There is an innate quality and power in His resurrection, because he IS the resurrection, Immanuel, God with us and the Alpha & Omega. That is why the eternality of Jesus, in John 1:1-14, is emphasized, and Luke’s account begins with clarifying the certainty of factual details in his gospel, Luke 1:1-4. With that fact established, let’s consider the message or purpose in Jesus raising other people to life from the dead. If you don’t believe it’s a testified fact from eye-witnesses, then you have not faced the burden of producing proof on the contrary. Because the only way to disprove the resurrection of Jesus is to produce evidence against hundreds of eye-witnesses. So far, in the past 2 millennia, no one has done that. So it is very logical, safe and sound to conclude that Christ’s resurrection is a deduced and astounding fact!

1-Jesus raised the son of the widow in Nain (within the region of Galilee), Lk 7:11-15. When this happened, the fame of Jesus spread throughout all Israel and the surrounding regions. Elijah raised a widow’s son in Zarephath, Canaan, could these two events be linked? Yes, it was to let them know that the Christ/Messiah which the forerunning prophet Elijah was pointing to (via John the Immersionist) had arrived with power proving he was the Son of God, Romans 1:4.

2-Jesus raised from the dead, the daughter of Jairus, Mt. 9:18-26, Mk. 5:22-43, Lk. 8:40-56, also in the north of Israel. But this time, he asks the parents to not publically make known this power. He also reveals that death is a type of sleep, from God’s perspective, which from our human aspect, is hard to accept. But this makes our understanding of the resurrection a little bit less overwhelming and stupendous. The message of this resurrection is to teach us that our next life is when we are awakened. 3-Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43-44). This happened close to Jerusalem and caused fear & friction, that the Jewish Leaders contrived to kill Lazarus. This would be a futile attempt to hide the evidence of Jesus being God in the power of the resurrection. John 12:9-10. From these resurrections, we glean 3 points: 1-The resurrection will always cause Jesus to be known as who he claims to be. 2-It will always keep us awake to the truth of life in Jesus, 3-It will always cause friction in the world. Do you believe in the resurrection unto life? John 5:29.

Resurrection in the O.T.

Jesus referred to Jonah’s experience as prophetic of his burial & resurrection, Matthew 12:39-41. See Jonah 1:17. Jonah’s great fish was “prepared” by God, מָנָה “manah” – to weigh out; by implication to allot or constitute officially; also to enumerate or enroll: – appoint, count, number, prepare, set, tell., “manah” is used 28 times in the Old Testament.

The tomb of Joseph (Matthew 27:59-62) was prepared for Jesus, because God prepared Christ’s body. (Hebrews 10:3-7) Now today, the burial is brought to us by faith in baptism, Colossians 2:12. What comes out of baptism is the church, which is Christ’s spiritual body on earth. Living, not dead!

Prophetically, Perhaps the best example of God’s promise in the resurrection comes from Isaiah 53:9-12 and Daniel 12:1-3. So when the Messiah did come in Jesus Christ, why should the resurrection bring stupendous disbelief when he raises the dead? Mark 16:14.

Elijah raised the dead; 1st Kings 17:21-22 “Breath”, 

Elisha raised the dead; 2nd Kings 4:32-35 “mouth to mouth,,,sneezed”, 

Even the bones of Elisha raised the dead;  2nd Kings 13:20-21, “bones…came to life”

Each of these miraculous O.T. events merely mention the power of God through his prophets to raise the dead. So what should have the Jews expected when Jesus came raising the dead?

Jesus raised the son of the widow of Nain from the dead (Luke 7:11-15).

Jesus raised up from the dead, the daughter of Jarius (Luke 8:54-55).

Jesus raised up Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43-44).

Last but not least, Ezekiel sees a valley with dry bones that miraculously come back to life. Bones will be covered again with sinew and flesh, and God will “put breath” into those bones. God brings to life through “breath.” God’s breath is used from Creation (Gen. 2:7), to Christ & his disciples (John 20:22). Which is equated to God’s Spirit. Ezekiel 37:1-14 and the “valley of dry bones.” is a great prophecy of the resurrection,  the meaning of this vision is spelled out for us: This says the Lord: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel (v. 12). Herein death isn’t physical but metaphorical. The dry bones represent Israel in exile (the grave). Where in exile? In Babylon, which is in the east, To be in exile, in the east, outside of the land of Canaan, is death. To be in the land is life. Now, today, the spiritual location of our soul is best found in Christ, not any religion, but His Spirit. The Spirit of life in Christ, Romans 8:2. The religion of the resurrected Christ! Are we in Him?

No Magic!

The Lord Jesus was accused of working miracles by the power of Satan, Matthew 12:21-27. He was never accused of illusions, tricks or rigged setups. The authenticity of his miracles were not questioned, they were powerful overwhelming evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was more than a mere man. The idea that the source of his power was evil has led many people to argue that Jesus was simply a very good and wise magician. It was early on historically that the philosopher and critic Celsus made a public record of that allegation around 200AD. Sometimes these critics point to the fact of Jesus making money appear in the mouth of a fish as proof that Jesus did magic.

There are four interesting facts about the miracle of the coin.

  1. Peter was one of the most outspoken disciples that would be more than willing to examine the miracles of Jesus. Yet, Jesus performed this miracle on Peter rather than any other disciple. They were not an audience, but rather students trying to learn. If any magic was involved, why would Jesus pull a trick on Peter and not one of the more quiet or complacent disciples? Instead he purposely pointed it towards Peter to teach him a lesson, he didn’t really want to learn.
  1. The coin produced in such a powerful and odd place, was not for their own gain or pleasure. The first fishes mouth was a message of Peter’s business resource being taxed. The Jewish Temple Guards supported the “House of Merchandise” which the Jewish Priesthood turned into a “Den of Thieves” and would be supported by this money. So both Jesus & Peter paid taxes to a system of government that would hurt them!
  1. Jesus powerfully helped God’s faithful “children” suffer loss in the hope of not offending civil or religious powers. He cares about the taxes & custom we must pay, and if we will live faithful lives of integrity, he will help us in our “unfair” expenses. However, take note: the coin was the exact value needed to pay the tribute due for both Peter and Jesus, not more and not less, but just enough.
  1. Since Jesus did not pay tax from his group’s moneybag which Judas carried, are we to assume that he didn’t really pay tax at all? Perhaps some of the Pharisees heard about His attitude about temple tax, and it prompted a second incident (Matthew 22:15-21) regarding Jesus and taxes? In this case the question is about paying taxes to the foriegn, oppressive, ungodly Roman government. It is clear that he did and teaches us to do the same. See 1st Peter 2:13-17.

The real generosity of Jesus in paying the Temple tax is emphasised, so that Peter and the other disciples fully understand this; That in their faith of Jesus being the Son of God, His Father’s house was not something that he would be obligated to help pay for, but, regardless of any possible misunderstanding, he would be gracious and offer this money for payment of the Temple tax. Can we be equally generous in paying our taxes? Does this make us feel awkward at the end of the year, when gift-giving season approaches for tax deductible opportunities?

Vision for the Blind

There are many kinds of powerful healings which Jesus performed out of compassion, and a few of them were mentioned by him as proof that he is the Messiah, Luke 7:22. There are at least three events recorded of Jesus making people see clearly when they had no sight! John 9:1-7, Luke 18:35-43 & Mark 8:22-26. Making the blind see is an obvious way of telling the world that Christ is both the Light of the World, as well as the great Physician he claims to be, Mark 2:17. The Christ is a title which means “The Anointed”, in the context of giving vision to the blind, it is ointment with healing and enlightening properties, from God! For those of us living with the Spirit of Christ, this means that the eyes of our heart are enlightened. Ephesians 1:17-18. Why would Paul pray for the church in Ephesus to have the eyes of their heart enlightened, if the church as a whole, already had the presence of Christ’s Spirit? Because faith is our victory, personal faith, not someone else’s faith in the church, but yours!

For the man born blind in John 9, Jesus used his saliva & dirt, but for the beggar in Luke 18, Jesus simply pronounced his sight into reality. The personal nature of the miracle on the man born blind, could be because Christ knew he would be tested by critics and would be unknown by the blind man healed on the Sabbath. The mud & saliva would give the man a way to verify that it was Jesus when his testimony was pressed by the critics. Another example of the personal nature in the miraculous ability to restore vision, is in Mark 8:22-26. When Jesus actually asks the blind person, “how are you seeing?” It is certain that restoring vision to the blind was not an easy task and indeed there were different degrees of blindness which Jesus was healing. Even after using saliva, he had to place his hand on his eyes a second time, to ensure the blind man could see perfectly! There is only one other recorded instance of Jesus using saliva in miraculous healing, Mark 7:31-37, where he healed a deaf & mute person. The word of Christ was enough to work huge miracles, but faith is essential. God’s word is powerful, See Psalm 119:81-91, 2nd Corinthians 6:6-7 & Romans 1:16.

For the beggar by the road to Jericho, we read that Jesus pronounced “his faith” as giving him restored vision, Lk. 18:42. This was evident in his shouting to get the attention of Jesus, as “Son of David”. What is the significance of this title? Angels regarded this title with universal power, Luke 1:32. In the Revelation 5:5, the Elders refer to Jesus as the “root of David” and Jesus refers to himself as the descendant of David, Rev. 22:16. During the 1st century, Jewish culture regarded the Messiah to come and rule over the world. He would be the “son of David”, this thought is rooted in prophecy from Jeremiah 33:17 & Zechariah 13:1. Even the wise ‘magi’ kings of the East had heard of this prophecy and offered gifts to the Christ child under his star. David is the only King mentioned in Hebrews 11, listing many heroes of the faith. Therefore it is a sound point to make, then and now, that there is real eternal authority in this title, which is the power that worked on the blind man’s eyes. His Spirit has power to enlighten the eyes of your heart. Do you believe this? Could this be the reason, we should pray about reading God’s word, to make sure it is not just an academic experience, but a spiritual experience giving us insight into what The Spirit is trying to teach us?

Defying Gravity, Mt. 14:23-33, Mk. 6:47-52, Jn. 6:16-21

Jesus came walking towards His disciples on the sea. When His disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying “Its a ghost.” But Jesus spoke to them “Take heart, it is I, do not be afraid.” Peter answered Him “Lord if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Jesus told Him “come”, and Peter got out of the boat and started walking on the water. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened and beginning to sink he cried out to Jesus to save him. Jesus immediately reached out His hand and caught him, saying to him “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped Him, saying “Truly You are the Son of God.” 

What do you think would have happened, when Peter saw the waves and felt the water push him, if he would have not feared & doubted, and just remained standing still? The lake of Galilee is at least 140ft deep, and they were 3 or 4 miles off shore! Where the eyes of his heart were focused, was more important than where his feet were or what they were doing, Ephesians 1:17-18.

 The point of this miracle is to teach us how hard it is to walk spiritually with God, when storms hit us. The New Testament is used by God to teach us to keep walking and when the storms of life get fierce, we must STAND, Ephesians 6:10-18. But for most of our life as a Christian, we are to walk in newness of life, Romans 6:4. Walk by the rule that only a new creation counts for anything, Galatians 6:15-16. Walk in the good works God prepared for you, Ephesians 2:10. Walk in His love & light, Ephesians 5:2-8. Walk in wisdom, Colossians 4:5. Walk with him as a divine guest in the Spirit, Galatians 5:16-25. This is the second type of miracle, which Jesus uses to emphasize the necessity of “walking”. Firstly, he used the healing of the lame & paralyzed to restore strength for walking. Now he uses Peter’s faith to walk in impossible circumstances. There seems to be no doubt in anyone’s mind, that Peter was an experienced fisherman and of course a decent swimmer. But when it came to walking on water, he was totally clueless. So he put his faith in the powerful voice of Christ that said “COME”, (Mat. 14:29 & Job 37:5) stepped out of the boat & WALKED!  Sadly, within moments Peter put his eyes on the stormy waves and started sinking. Such is our common experience in getting distracted with problems in the world, throwing us off focus and away from the powerful word of God which is alive and used by God’s Spirit in the Bible. We must learn, believe and remember that storms in life are temporary, and God’s word is permanent! Walk with a determined faith in the Father’s love. He will catch us when we fall, IF we will pray in faith!

The testimony of everyone in the boat proclaiming Jesus to be the “Son of God” is Jesus proving to everyone in the boat, that he was in control of their whole world. John’s gospel doesn’t mention Peter’s steps on water and then sinking, John simply states that the disciples knew Jesus moved the boat instantly to the shore from 3 or 4 miles out. The Lake of Galilee is 13 miles long, and 8 miles wide, so to get to the shore “immediately” is impossible without some external force like Jesus commanding it to move. All of them were experienced fisherman, so they know how boats, water and the wind can and can not assist travel. John himself, in writing this, was an experienced fisherman, being the son of Zebedee, so he knew very well how far and how quick the boat traveled. The disciples were mainly interested in helping Jesus get into the boat, but they learnt Jesus was more interested in getting them to the shore! That is what Jesus wants for you and I. Getting us home is his goal. We can’t do God’s work in and all by our self, we need his assistance to stand, to walk and to end up on the shore, with Him! It was not only Peter, that Jesus helped defy gravity, but the entire boat. As Christians, we must stay in the boat, just like Noah & Paul instructs us. See the story in Acts 27:19-31.

Thousands of All Kinds of People Being Fed

God used Moses to feed thousands of people in the wilderness, through many years. Exodus 16 & Numbers 11. There was always more than enough manna and quail. God in Jesus comforts us in the reality that the “bread of life” we have in Jesus will always give us sustenance and more, for the power we need to live and do what is right. Read John 6:31-58. Why? Because he was moved with compassion when he saw weary crowds of people. We should learn that Jesus fed many different kinds of people, on two different occasions. Teaching the world that he is truly our souls provider and without him we would starve to death spiritually.

The first event of 5000 men, recorded in Mt. 14 & Mk.6 was predominantly a Jewish crowd, because both accounts feeding 5000 use the word “kophinos” for baskets, Mt. 14:20 & Mk. 6:43.

The second event of 4000 men, recorded in Mt. 15 & Mk. 8 is predominantly a Gentile crowd, because both accounts feeding 4000 use the word “spuris” for baskets, Mt. 15:37 & Mk. 8:8. Which may explain why the disciples don’t seem to expect Jesus to feed them, even after they saw him feed the Jewish crowd beforehand. Notice in the first event the disciples come to Jesus asking about food for the crowd, but in the second event, it is the other way around. Jesus asks the disciples about feeding the crowd. 

Notice, regardless of what kind of people are in the crowds, in each case, Jesus performs the miracle, but the disciples are commanded to distribute the miracle. Setting people in segregated groups of 50 – 100. Is there a lesson for the church to learn from this in the distribution of God’s word? His word is certainly produced miraculously and abundantly, but how do we distribute it? 

Paul taught in 2nd Corinthians 9:8-12, “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that in everything, always having all self-sufficiency, you may abound to every good work; As it is written, “He scattered; he has given to the poor; his righteousness remains forever.” Now He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for eating, may He supply and multiply your seed, and increase the fruits of your righteousness, you being enriched in everything to all generosity, which works out thanksgiving to God through us. For the ministry of this service not only supplies the things lacking of the saints, but also multiplying through many thanksgivings to God”. Herein may be the whole point of preserving these miracles in the Bible, that is: God’s generosity towards us through His word, is what promotes praise & thanksgiving so that others in the world will get fed. The immediate reaction of the crowd in John 6:14-15, is to assume Jesus is the “prophet” which Moses said would come into the world. As soon as Jesus knew their conclusion, he withdrew because he knew they expected him to make an army in the world and defeat the idolatry of the Roman Empire, as Elijah defeated the idolatrous Baal worshipers in ancient times. Since Jesus had this kind of power, he could easily feed an army which could defeat any nation. What kind of army is Jesus feeding today?