The Guarantee made Possible – Part 3
The first article 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 was followed by a second article reviewing the following points:
- The three resurrections performed by Jesus.
- Why did first century Jews believe in the resurrection hope?
- What did Jesus teach about the resurrection?
This article continues the discussion by considering the actual resurrection of Jesus. This is the first resurrection wherein the one resurrected did not die again. It is by this death and resurrection that a ransom for all could be paid such that others would experience the same resurrection of life as did our Lord.
Jesus’ purpose as the only perfect man was, according to Matthew 20:28, “to minister and give his soul a ransom in exchange for many”. This came about in fulfillment of prophecy. Matthew 20:17-18 shows that, “Jesus took the twelve disciples off privately and said to them on the road: Look! We are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of man will be delivered up to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death…to impale and the third day he will be raised up”.
This sets the scene nicely for the seventh resurrection, that of Jesus.
7th Resurrection: Jesus Christ
Jesus, as the Messiah, fulfilled the Mosaic Law. (Hebrews 10)
It was through his ransom sacrifice that it is possible for us to have the hope of resurrection to life on a paradise earth. (Hebrews 9:11, 12, Romans 5:21)
It is also through Jesus as the Messianic King that Jehovah’s purposes regarding the earth will be brought to completeness. (Ephesians 4:9-10)
Jehovah’s resurrection of Jesus proved that the sacrifice of his perfect human life on behalf of all mankind was acceptable; that Jesus had died faithful to the end. (John 19:30, Acts 4:10)
It therefore becomes very important to see what proofs there are that Jesus was resurrected.
Appearances to Eyewitnesses of Jesus on Earth after his Resurrection until his Ascension to Heaven
- Three Gospel accounts record that Mary Magdalene, Salome, Joanna, and the other Mary (Mary mother of James) after coming to Jesus’ grave on the first day of the week, saw an angel who told them to tell the disciples to go to Galilee. Most of the women went to tell the disciples and on their way the resurrected Jesus approached them and repeated the angel’s message. (Matthew 28:8-10, Mark 16:1, Luke 24:10)
- Mary Magdalene stayed behind weeping and was approached and consoled by the resurrected Jesus. (John 20:11-17)
- Luke records that the same day, two disciples on the way to Emmaus met Jesus and talked extensively with him, recognising him when he prayed over the meal and broke the bread before he disappeared from their sight. (Luke 24:13-35)
- Again on the same day of his resurrection he appeared to Peter (Cephas). (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5)
- And again on the same day, he appeared to the other disciples, excluding Thomas. (Luke 24:36-53; John 20:19-24)
- Jesus then appeared to the Twelve (including Thomas) eight days later in Galilee. (Matthew 28:16; John 20:26-29; 1 Corinthians 15:5)
- The next appearance was to seven of the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias (Galilee). This was when Peter was asked to feed the little sheep. (John 21:1-14)
- Paul records that Jesus then appeared to more than 500 brothers, most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians around 55 C.E. (1 Corinthians 15:6)
- After that he appeared to James according to the record in 1 Corinthians 15:7.
- His final appearance was at his ascension when he appeared to the 11 remaining Apostles. (Acts 1:6-11.)
Interestingly, in Acts 1:3, the account of Luke states: “He [Jesus] showed himself alive to them by many convincing proofs. He was seen by them throughout 40 days, and he was speaking about the kingdom of God.”
The scriptural accounts written for our benefit show ten recorded appearances on separate occasions to numerous people (a minimum of 500 people) during this time. Although there may have been more, these are the occurrences which are recorded for our benefit.
Visions of Jesus after his Ascension to Heaven
- Stephen had a vision of Jesus when defending himself before the Jewish leaders saying: “Look! I behold the heavens opened up and the Son of man standing at God’s right hand.” (Acts 7:55-56)
- The ascended Jesus appeared to Saul of Tarsus (subsequently, the apostle Paul) on the road to Damascus. (Acts 9:3-6; 1 Corinthians 15:9)
- In connection with Paul, shortly thereafter Jesus spoke to Ananias: “There was in Damascus a certain disciple named Ananias and the Lord said to him in a vision: ”Ananias!” He said :’Here I am Lord”’ (Acts 9:10-16)
- While in Corinth, Jesus appeared in a vision to Paul to encourage him at a time when he was facing strong opposition. The account records that, “moreover, by night the Lord said to Paul through a vision: ‘Have no fear, but keep on speaking and do not keep silent, because I am with you.'” (Acts 18:9)
- The Book of Revelation is a vision of events to occur rather than a vision of Jesus in person directly to John. According to Revelation 1:1 it was “a revelation by Jesus Christ, which God gave him… And he sent forth his angel and presented it in signs through him to his slave John.”
In our first article, we discussed 1 Corinthians 15 and the importance of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Everything had been leading up to this event, and only through it would it ever be possible for death to be done away with forever.
The key teaching of God’s word in which to place our faith is surely Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. Without it, Jehovah’s name would not be sanctified and neither would Creation’s groaning ever end. Romans chapters 4, 5 & 6 helps us to more fully grasp the true import and impact of this arrangement on the future of all humankind.
References to Jesus Resurrection by the Apostles outside the Gospel Accounts.
- The Apostle Peter, in his speech in Jerusalem at Pentecost 33 C.E. when the holy spirit was poured out, said: “But God resurrected him, by loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to continue to be held fast by it.” He then referred to David saying, “He saw beforehand and spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ that neither was he forsaken in Hades nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus, God resurrected, of which fact we are all witnesses.” (Acts 2:24,31-32)
- Later that day, Peter in Solomon’s Colonnade of the Temple said to those coming to worship: “Whereas you killed the Chief Agent of life. But God raised him up from the dead, of which fact we are witnesses.” (Acts 3:15)
- As he was finishing the chief priests and the Sadducees came and being annoyed and arrested them, because they were “teaching the people and” in particular “were plainly declaring the resurrection of the dead in the case of Jesus”. (Acts 4:1-3)
- The next day, Peter was brought before the Sanhedrin and “filled with holy spirit said to them…let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you impaled, but whom God raised up from the dead, by this one does this man stand here sound in front of you.” (Acts 4:8-10)
- Later on receiving the judgement from the Sanhedrin “Peter and John said to them: “Whether it is righteous in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, judge for yourselves.” On their release they continued preaching. Not many days or weeks after they were once again imprisoned by the Sadducees. “During the night the Lord’s angel opened the doors of the prison and sent them into the temple.” The Sadducees found them and questioned them reminding them of the order not to keep teaching upon the basis of Jesus name, to which they replied ‘We must obey God as ruler rather than men. The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, whom you slew’” (Acts 5:19-20, 28-30)
- Approximately 3 years later in 36 C.E., Peter was sent by an angel’s direction to the Roman Centurion Cornelius. When speaking to Cornelius, he told him: “God raised this One up on the third day and granted him to become manifest, not to all the people, but to witnesses appointed beforehand by God, to us, who ate and drank with him after his rising from the dead.” (Acts 10:1-43)
- A few years later after the conversion of Paul, we find that Paul and others entered in to the synagogue of Antioch, Pisidia, on the Sabbath day. After the public reading, they stood and spoke saying: “But God raised him from the dead…And so we are declaring to you the good news about the promise made to the forefathers, that God has entirely fulfilled it to us their children in that he resurrected Jesus…And that fact that he resurrected him from the dead destined no more to return to corruption.” (Acts 13:28-34)
- On a later missionary tour, Paul spoke to the men at the Areopagus in Corinth said “he (God) is telling mankind that they should all repent. Because he has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has furnished a guarantee to all men in that he has resurrected him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31)
- A number of years later when Paul had been arrested, he gave a defense before the Roman Governor Festus and Herod Agrippa explaining “that the Christ was to suffer and as the first to be resurrected from the dead, he was going to publish light both to this people and to the nations.” The result of this was that Herod Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time you would persuade me to become a Christian.” (Acts 26:22-23,28)
- Writing to the Romans Paul said
- “because we believe on him who raised Jesus our Lord up from the dead. (Romans 4:24)
- “just as Christ was raised up from the dead through the glory of the Father…For we know that Christ, now that he has been raised up from the dead, dies no more.” (Romans 6:4,9)
- “that you might become another’s, the one’s who was raised up from the dead” (Romans 7:4)
- “If now the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his spirit that resides in you.”…”Christ Jesus is the one who died, yes, rather the one who was raised up from the dead, who is on the right hand of God, who also pleads for us.” (Romans 8:11, 34)
- “For if you publicly declare that ‘word in your own mouth’ , that Jesus is Lord and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
- Writing to the Corinthians Paul stated:
- “But God both raised up the Lord and will raise us up out of death through his power.” (1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:12-20)
- “and he died for all that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised up”. (2 Corinthians 5:15)
- In the opening verse of Galatians Paul describes himself as “Paul, an apostle, neither from men nor through a man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him up from the dead” (Galatians 1:1)
- In his letter to the Ephesians Paul wanted them to be enlightened and know the hope to which they were called, accepting the surpassing greatness of the power of God, “in the case of the Christ when he raised him up from the dead and seated him at his right hand in heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:20)
- Paul commends the Thessalonians for the stand they have taken for God and Jesus leaving behind idols “to wait for his Son from the heavens, whom he raised up from the dead, namely Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
- Writing to Timothy, Paul says “Remember that Jesus Christ was raised up from the dead and was of David’s seed, according to the good news I preach.” (2 Timothy 2:8)
- Peter while discussing the ransom stated: “he [Jesus] was made manifest at the end of times for the sake of you, who through him are believes in God, the one who raised him up from the dead and gave him glory;” (1 Peter 1:20-21)
In Matthew 10:7,8 Jesus commanded his disciples “As you go, preach saying the Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near. Cure sick people, raise up dead persons, make lepers clean, expel demons.” Some of these actions were performed while Jesus was alive, but there are no records of the disciples performing a resurrection until after his death. Those we know of are listed below.
8th Resurrection: Dorcas/Tabitha
One of Jesus commands when he sent out his apostles as Kingdom preachers was: “Raise up dead persons.” (Matthew 10:5-8) The only way they could do this was by relying on God’s power. At Joppa in 36 C.E., the godly woman Dorcas (Tabitha) fell asleep in death. Her good deeds had included the making of garments for needy widows, among whom her death caused much weeping. The disciples prepared her for burial and as as they had heard the Apostle Peter was nearby they sent for him. (Acts 9:32-38)
Peter dismissed everyone from the upper chamber, prayed, and said: “Tabitha, rise!” She opened her eyes, sat up, took Peter’s hand, and he raised her up. This first reported resurrection by an apostle caused many to become believers. (Acts 9:39-42) As the account in Acts 9:36 states, “She abounded in good deeds and gifts of mercy that she was rendering”. She was indeed a righteous person and had been following the example of Christ. The account does not state why Peter chose to resurrect her, nor why God granted an answer to his request in prayer on this occasion, but from what little is recorded, we can see that she was a deserving recipient of this evidence that God was backing the disciples.
Therefore, we do well to ask ourselves, do we abound in good deeds and gifts of mercy? If we were to die suddenly, would there be the same sadness for us as there was for Tabitha because of our good deeds? Food indeed for personal reflection, thought and action.
9th Resurrection: Eutychus
The last resurrection in the Bible record occurred in Troas. When Paul stopped there on his third missionary trip, his discourse with the local believers continued late into the night. Overcome by weariness and the crowded conditions in the meeting place, a young man named Eutychus fell asleep and tumbled from a third-story window. He “was picked up dead,” not merely unconscious. Paul threw himself upon Eutychus, embraced him, and told onlookers: “Stop raising a clamor, for his soul is in him.” Paul meant that the young man’s life had been restored. Those present “were comforted beyond measure.” (Acts 20:7-12)
The stage was now set for the final resurrection, the one promised by Jesus in John 5:29. When and how would that take place? This is discussed along with other related questions in the final article in our series: “The Guarantee Fulfilled.”