The Resurrection Hope – Jehovah’s Guarantee to Mankind.
Jesus Reinforces the Hope – Part 2
In our first article we reviewed the following points
- The importance of the Resurrection Hope to our faith under the heading: “The Resurrection Hope – A foundation stone to our faith. Why?”
- The emergence of the Resurrection Hope in the Scriptures, starting with the first three resurrections recorded, under the heading: “Early Foundations of the Hope”.
This article will continue our overall theme with a review of the three resurrections performed by Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the appointed King of God’s Kingdom. As we do so, we will examine how we can benefit not only from the fact he performed resurrections, but also from the manner in which he performed them.
Jesus Reinforces the Hope
4th Resurrection: The Son of the Widow of Nain (Read Luke 7:11-16)
The resurrection of the son of the widow of Nain is a resurrection that Jesus performed early in his ministry, not long after he had chosen his twelve apostles and delivered the Sermon on the Mount. This added strong confirmation to all onlookers and disciples that indeed Jesus was the Messiah that had been promised.
As we look at the account recorded in Luke 7:11-16 we see in vs 13 that when he caught sight of the widow, he was moved with pity for her. He signaled his intent by kindly saying “Stop weeping”. What moved Jesus to take action? He could see from the procession that she was a widow, as she was without her husband by her side. There was a considerable crowd with her, which likely indicates that either she and/or her son were well liked and respected in the community. Mourners usually tended to chant lamentations, and musicians played mournful tunes. (See also Jeremiah 9:17, 18; Matthew 9:23.) Verse 13 records that Jesus ‘was moved with compassion’ (or ‘pity’ NWT). The original Greek word translated ‘moved with compassion’ is splagchnizomai, which derives from ‘the inward parts, the seat of emotions’. Verse 14 shows that Jesus went right up to the bier and touched it, stopping the procession and then in a firm, commanding voice said “Young man, I say to you, Get up!” Verse 15 records that the dead young man then sat up and started to speak. Possibly, lifting the young man out of the bier, Jesus then gave him to his mother.
In this resurrection, Jesus had pity and showed compassion to this widow. He did not use this as a public relations opportunity; rather, he raised the son of the widow, because he wanted to and was moved to do so. He had the power granted him by his Father Jehovah, and he used it to end the widows’ suffering and enable her family line to continue—something of great importance to the Jews. He also refers to this resurrection in Matthew 11:4-5 as part of the encouraging message he sends to John the Baptist via John’s disciples to encourage him while he endures the imprisonment which will ultimately lead to his death. He tells him, “the dead are being raised up and the poor are being told the good news”.
5th Resurrection: The Daughter of Jairus (Read Mark 5:21-24, 35-43; Luke 8:40-42, 49-56)
We now come to Jesus 2nd Resurrection, the daughter of Jairus.
The Jewish nation like the nations surrounding them had become a very male dominated society.[i] Yet, through all his three and half years of ministry Jesus showed a different attitude to women. He treated them with respect instead of second class citizens. This resurrection would show that women and young girls were equally important as men in Jehovah’s eyes as worthy of a resurrection.
We will also see the kindness Jesus displayed in making the resurrection quiet and peaceful— no wailing crowds pressing in—so that the young girl would not be traumatized on waking up. Yes, it would be as if she had just gone to sleep and woken up, just as it will be for all of us. Last but not least, we see the ecstasy and joy that those receiving dead ones back in the resurrection experience.
Who was Jairus? He was the presiding officer of a synagogue and lived with his wife and their only child near the Sea of Galilee. One day the young girl got very sick, and Jairus could see that she was going to die. Jairus had heard about Jesus’ healing ability and knew that perhaps he could heal his daughter. So he went to look for him, finding him on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, teaching many people. Making his way through the crowd, he fell at the Lord’s feet, imploring him with these words:
“My little daughter is extremely ill. Would you please come and put your hands upon her that she may get well and live.” (Mark 5:23)
What faith he showed! No doubt is expressed as to whether Jesus might not be able to heal her. Right away, Jesus goes with Jairus and the crowd also follows along. After some distance, they are met by some men to tell Jairus that it is too late, his daughter had died.
Jesus overheard the men saying this and knowing how sad Jairus would be to lose his only child he tells him: “Have no fear; only exercise faith and your daughter will be saved.”
So they continue on until they come to the house. There, they find friends of the family weeping and beating themselves in grief. They are distraught because their little friend has died, but Jesus asks them,“Why are you causing noisy confusion and weeping? The young child has not died, but [she] is sleeping.”
The immediate reaction of the people was to begin to laugh, for they knew that the girl had died. But Jesus said that she was sleeping in order to teach the people a vital truth. He wanted them to know that death is like a deep sleep and that by means of God’s power, he can bring a dead person back to life just as easily as we can wake a person up from sleep.
Jesus then had everyone leave the house except his apostles Peter, James, and John (his 3 witnesses) and the girl’s father and mother. Then he went in to where the young child was. He took her by the hand and said: “Young girl, I say to you, Get up!” And right away, she got up and began walking! Her father and mother were filled with joy. The account describes them as being beside themselves in great ecstasy.—Mark 5:21-24, 35-43; Luke 8:40-42, 49-56.”
6th Resurrection: Lazarus (Read John 11:11-44)
In Jesus’ 3rd resurrection he showed the depth of his feelings for the sorry state mankind is in, and in doing so gave us assurance that he will use his kingly power to end the loss of loved ones in death. Also, he demonstrated that resurrection can take place even though the deceased may have died a long time ago. In the case of Lazarus, he had been dead for four days and Lazarus’ body had already begun to decay. Not to be forgotten, Lazarus and his sisters had put faith in Jesus and been very hospitable to him. By resurrecting Lazarus, it would show that faith in him as the Messiah would lead to life again ‘in the last day’.
The background to this resurrection is that Martha, Mary, and Lazarus had become close friends of Jesus. During his ministry in Judea, where he met so much opposition and hostility, Jesus had made their home his base. John 11:5 states that “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus”.
Then Lazarus fell sick and Martha and Mary sent a message to Jesus. He was preaching some two days’ journey away. Their message was simple: “Lord, see! the one for whom you have affection is sick.” (John 11:1, 3) They knew that Jesus loved their brother, and they had faith that he would do whatever he could to help his friend. They must have hoped that Jesus would arrive before it was too late. But he delayed and Lazarus died. Finally after Lazarus had been dead for four days, Martha heard reports that Jesus was nearing Bethany, their home town.
Martha rushed out to meet Jesus and said “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died. And yet at present I know that as many things as you ask God for, God will give you.”
Jesus immediately replied, “Your brother will rise.”—John 11:21-23.
Martha answered, “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:24)
She had faith in the teaching of the resurrection despite the fact that some Jewish religious leaders, called Sadducees, denied that there would be a resurrection. The Sadducees ignored the various scriptures that indicated that there would be a future resurrection. (Daniel 12:13; 1 Kings 17:19-24; 2 Kings 4:25-37; 2 Kings 13:21; Job 14:1,13-15; Mark 12:18) Martha also believed what Jesus had taught about the resurrection hope. However, while she knew Jesus had performed the resurrections discussed above, she did not assume Jesus would resurrect Lazarus as indicated by her answer. This may have been due in part to the fact that the other resurrections had taken place very soon after death and no one had been dead as long as Lazarus had.
Jesus then stated, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who exercises faith in me even though he dies will come to life.”
This indicated that Jehovah God would give his Son the authority to perform resurrections on a global scale in the future. Jesus’ question was “Do you believe this?”
Martha affirmed her belief in him as the Christ saying, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that you are the Christ the Son of God, the One coming into the world.”
However, she did not comment further but rather went off to call her sister Mary. Perhaps hope was rising in her heart that Jesus would resurrect her brother as she tried to ensure her sister would come by saying, “The Teacher is present and is calling you.”
This enticement worked as her sister “got up quickly” and went with Martha to Jesus. (John 11:25-31)
On arriving where Jesus was, Mary fell at his feet and said to him “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Mary wept there and those who had followed her joined in. This affected Jesus deeply as he “groaned in spirit and became troubled”. He then asked, “Where have you laid him?”
Those with Mary answered, “Lord, come and see.”
Jesus could no longer contain his emotions and displayed his deep feelings for the grief caused to those attending the tomb by giving way to tears himself. (John 11:32-33)
Jesus then composed himself and as the group arrived at the memorial tomb Martha could not believe what she next hears Jesus request: “Take the stone away!”.—John 11:38-39.
Martha’s immediate response was to object, “Lord, by now he must smell, for it is four days.”[ii]
Nevertheless, Jesus kindly reminded her, “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”
Those in the crowd then moved the stone away from the entrance of the tomb. Martha did believe, and she got to see the glory of Jehovah God and the power vested in his son Jesus Christ. Right then and there, Jehovah empowered his beloved Son Jesus Christ to bring Lazarus back to life! Jesus firstly prayed out loud so that those there “might believe that you [Jehovah] have sent me [Jesus] forth.” Jesus gave a commanding call, “Lazarus, come on out!” and out from the cave came Lazarus, still bound in the bandages used to prepare the body. (John 11:40-44)
Life would never be the same again for Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Nor for many who witnessed these events. Many put faith in Jesus as a result. (John 11:45)
Is there any other evidence that this occurred? A while later, just 6 days before Jesus death, the account in John 12:1-2, 9-10 states that a great crowd of Jews came to Bethany to see Jesus and Lazarus who he had raised up from the dead. This resulted in the chief priests now taking counsel to kill Lazarus in addition to Jesus because so many Jews were putting faith in Jesus because of the resurrection of Lazarus. (John 12:11)
Jesus had now resurrected 3 people himself, giving a reliable witness that he had Jehovah’s spirit upon him, and that resurrection on a larger scale was possible. These three are the only recorded 1st Century resurrections by Jesus.
Why did first century Jews like Martha believe in the resurrection hope?
Those who genuinely loved Jehovah and his word were familiar with passages such as the following:
Job 14:13-15; “O that in the Grave you would conceal me, That you would hide me until your anger passes by, That you would set a time limit for me and remember me! 14 If a man dies, can he live again? I will wait all the days of my compulsory service, Until my relief comes. 15 You will call, and I will answer you. You will long for the work of your hands.”
Psalm 49:15; “However God himself with redeem my soul from the hand of Sheol (the Grave).”
Daniel 12:2; “And there will be many of those asleep in the ground of dust who will wake up, these to indefinitely lasting life, and those to reproaches…”
Daniel 12:13; “But as for you, go on to the end. You will rest, but you will stand up for in your allotted place at the end of the days.”
Hosea 13:14; “From the hand of Sheol (the Grave) I shall redeem them; from death I shall recover them. Where are your stings O Death?”
What did Jesus teach about the Resurrection?
Matthew 22:23-33, Mark 12:18-27 & Luke 20:27-38 record the event when the Sadducees (who taught there was no resurrection) came up to Jesus to ask him a tricky question about 7 brothers who die in turn. As each one dies the next brother in line takes the wife of the first brother through brother-in-law marriage because there was no son and heir. (see Deuteronomy 25:5, Genesis 38:8) Jesus reply was, “You are mistaken, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God; for in the resurrection neither do men marry nor are women given in marriage but are as [Gr ‘hos’ – like, in the same manner as] angels in heaven…As regards the resurrection of the dead, did you not read what was spoken to you by God saying “I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob”? He is the God, not of the dead, but of the living.”
Jesus was making it clear that their forefather Abraham was still viewed by God as living [in his memory] awaiting his resurrection which was assured by his being in God’s memory.
In Luke 20 he added, “those who have been counted worthy of gaining that system of things and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. In fact they cannot die, for they are like the angels [who do not die due to Adamic sin and do not marry] and they are God’s children by being children of the resurrection.”
In John 5:19-29 he taught that Jehovah had “given him authority to do judging” (vs 27), and continued on to speak of the coming resurrection (v28, 29) “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life”. Yes, the time would come when there would be a general resurrection.
In Luke 14:12-14 when discussing how one should be hospitable Jesus mentioned that the reward for this hospitality would be “in the resurrection of the righteous ones”.
There was however one more vital component to enable this to happen, yet to be put in place. A ransom was required for imperfect mankind as without it they would remain in a sinful imperfect state and would never get the true benefits of a resurrection. How would that requirement be filled?
The following article “The Guarantee Made Possible” will discuss this.
To be continued …
[i] Josephus (1st Century Jewish Historian) in Against Apion states “A woman, it says, is inferior to a man in all respects. So, let her obey, not that she may be abused, but that she may be ruled; for God has given power to the man.” Flavius Josephus, The Works of Flavius Josephus, trans. William Whiston (Auburn and Buffalo, NY: John E. Beardsley, 1895), 2:18−41. “But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex.” IBID p40.
[ii] Bodies begin to noticeably decay and smell badly by 3 days after death, the exact time obviously dependant on environmental factors and cause of death.