[A Review of the November 15, 2014 Watchtower article on page 3]
“He was raised up.”—Mt 28:6
Understanding the value and meaning of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is of course vital for us to keep our faith. It is one of the elemental or primary things that Paul spoke about to the Hebrews, urging them to move past these things to the deeper truths. (He 5:13; 6:1,2)
This is not to suggest that there is anything wrong in reviewing the importance of the Lord’s resurrection as we are doing here in this article.
Peter and the other disciples had all abandoned Jesus because of fear of man—fear of what men could do to them. Even after witnessing the resurrected Jesus on numerous occasions they were still unsure what to do, and were still meeting in secret until the day that holy spirit filled them. The proof that death held no mastery over Jesus, combined with the newfound awareness from the spirit that they like him were untouchable, gave them the courage they needed. From that point on, there was no turning back.
As with many of us, the religious authority of that time immediately tried to silence them, but they did not hesitate to answer back, “ We must obey God are ruler rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) When confronted by similar persecution from within the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, may we have similar courage and take a corresponding stand for truth and obedience to God over men.
It can take time for us to see the truth, to come to a spirit guided understanding of Bible truth that is unfettered by human dogma and fear of man. But recall that the holy spirit wasn’t given to the apostles alone, but came upon every Christian, male and female, on Pentecost. The process continued from there on. It continues today. It is that spirit that cries out in our heart, declaring that we too are sons and daughters of God; ones who must live in the likeness of Jesus, even to death, that we may share in the likeness of his resurrection. It is by that same spirit that we cry out to God, abba Father. (Ro 6:5; Mk 14:36; Ga 4:6)
Why Jesus’ Resurrection Was Unique
Paragraph 5 makes the point that Jesus’ resurrection was unique to all previous ones in that it was from the flesh to the spirit. There are those who disagree and contend that Jesus was resurrected in the flesh with some type of “glorified human body”. Having reviewed the texts used to support that theory, you may find them lacking in convincing evidence. Each can easily be understood in the context of Jesus raising a fleshly body when he saw fit, doing so not to deceive the disciples into thinking he was something he was not, but rather to exhibit the nature of his resurrection. Sometimes the body he used had the wounds from his execution, even a hole in his side big enough for a hand to enter. On other occasions he was not recognized by his disciples. (John 20:27; Luke 24:16; John 20:14; 21:4) A spirit cannot be perceived with human senses. When Jesus took on a human body, he could manifest himself. The angels in Noah’s day did the same thing and were as humans, even able to procreate. Nevertheless, they had no right to do so, and were thus in violation of God’s law. Jesus however, as the Son of man, had the right to take on flesh as well as the right to exist in the spirit realm from whence he had come. It follows that if Christians are to share in the likeness of his resurrection, we too shall possess the lawful right to manifest ourselves in the flesh—a necessary ability if we are to assist the billions of unrighteous resurrected ones to a knowledge of God.
Jehovah Demonstrates His Power Over Death
I have always found it heartwarming that Jesus appeared first to women. The honor of being the first to witness and report on the resurrected Son of God goes to the female of our species. In a male-oriented society such as exists today, and existed even more so in that day, this fact is significant.
Jesus then appeared to Cephas, and then to the twelve. (1 Co 15:3-8) This is intriguing because at that point in time there were only eleven apostles—Judas having committed suicide. Perhaps Jesus appeared to the original eleven and Matthias and Justus were both with them. Perhaps, this was one of the reasons those two were put forward to fill the vacancy left by Judas’ death. (Acts 1:23) This is all conjecture, of course.
Why We Know that Jesus Was Resurrected
I would submit that this subtitle is ill-conceived. We do not know that Jesus was resurrected. We believe it. We have faith in it. This is a significant difference the writer seems to have overlooked. Paul, Peter and the others mentioned in the Bible knew Jesus was resurrected because they saw the evidence with their own eyes. We have only ancient writings to base our belief on; the words of men. We have faith that these words are inspired of God and are therefore beyond dispute. But all that is still a question of faith. When we know something we do not need faith, because we have the reality. For now, we need faith and hope and of course, love. Even Paul, who saw Jesus’ blinding manifestation and heard his words and had visions from our Lord, only knew partially.
This is not to say Jesus was not resurrected. I believe that with all my soul and my whole life course is based on that belief. But that is faith, not knowledge. Call it faith-based knowledge if you like, but true knowledge will only come when the reality is upon us. As Paul so aptly said, “when that which is complete arrives, that which is partial will be done away with.” (1 Co 13:8)
Three of the four reasons given in paragraphs 11 thru 14 for believing (not knowing) that Jesus was resurrected are valid. The fourth is also valid, but not from the viewpoint from which it is presented.
Paragraph 14 says, “A fourth reason why we know that Jesus was resurrected is that we have evidence that he is now ruling as King and is serving as Head of the Christian Congregation.” He was the head of the Christian congregation from the first century and has been ruling as king since then. (Eph 1:19-22) Nevertheless, the implication which will not be missed by those attending this study is that there is “evidence” that Jesus has been ruling since 1914 and this is further evidence of his resurrection.
It seems we cannot pass up any opportunity to plug our over-extended doctrine of the 100-year rule of God.
What Jesus’ Resurrection Means for Us
There is a quote in paragraph 16 that we do well to dwell upon. “One Bible scholar wrote: “If Christ is not raised,…Christians become pathetic dupes, taken in by a colossal fraud.”[A]
There is yet another way for Christians to become pathetic dupes. We could be told that Jesus was resurrected, but that his resurrection is not for us. We could be told that only a select few will enjoy the resurrection spoken of at 1 Corinthians 15:14, 15, 20 (referenced in the paragraph) and that promised by God through Paul at Romans 6:5.
If, by using artfully contrived type/antitype relationships, an individual were able to convince millions that they have no opportunity to share in the likeness of Jesus’ resurrection, would that not amount to “a colossal fraud”, turning those millions of sincere Christians into pathetic dupes? Yet, this is precisely what Judge Rutherford did with his historic two-article series in the August 1 and 15, 1934 Watchtower issues. The leadership of our Organization down to the present day has done nothing to set the record straight. Even now that we have disavowed the use of made-up, non-Scriptural types and antitypes, referring to them as ‘going beyond what is written’,[B] we have done nothing to undo the fraud perpetrated by the gross misuse of that practice as exhibited repeatedly by Judge Rutherford and others who followed in his footsteps with still more concocted types/antitypes. (See w81 3/1 p. 27 “Overwhelming Credentials”)
The title of this study article is: “The Resurrection of Jesus—Its Meaning for Us”. And just what is its meaning for us? There is something offensive about an article that purports to strengthen our faith in Jesus’ resurrection while denying millions of us the very opportunity to share in it.
[A] Apparently this quote comes from this 1 Corinthians (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) by David E. Garland. It is an annoying custom of our publications not to give due credit by providing references for the quotes used. This is likely because the publishers do not wish to be seen as endorsing publications that do not originate from our presses, for fear that the rank and file may feel entitled to venture outside of the carefully regulated spigot used to disseminate our truth. This could lead to the much dreaded threat of independent thinking.
[B] David Splane speaking at the 2014 Annual Meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses; w15 3/15 p. 17 “Questions from Readers”.