“declared with power to be the Son of God (deity) by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” (See Romans 1:1-4)
"Death has been swallowed up in victory." Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?" (1 Cor.15:54-55) “For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits (of the new creation) of those who have fallen asleep." (1 Cor. 15:16-20) Resurrection means a bodily resurrection to an immortal state not resuscitation like Lazarus and others who have been raised from the dead but die again. Like Jesus, we will not taste death again after being resurrected. Being in Christ removes the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15). It is only a “shadow” (Psalm 23:4) and is compared to falling asleep (1 Thess. 4:14) and waking up in the presence of the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). Jesus’ resurrection 1) demonstrated that what He predicted about Himself was true. (Mark 8:31); 2) proved that He is the Son of God. (Rom. 1:2-4) and was sent by God and “vindicated by the Spirit.” (1 Tim 3:16); 3) testifies to the success of His mission of salvation. (Rom. 4:25); 4) entitled Him to a position of glory (1 Peter 1:11); 5) and proclaimed that He is “Lord” (or God – Acts 2:36). (The Bible Knowledge Commentary by Walvord and Zuck)
Out of all the gospel writers John gives the most detailed account of what happened after Jesus’ death and burial. These historical details are there to build our faith on the solid ground of evidence by eye-witnesses on the scene: (Also see John’s letter, 1 John 1:1-4) 1) the intimate encounter of Mary of Magdala and Jesus which led her to faith; this encounter also shows Jesus explaining the new relationship Mary and all believers will have with Him – i.e., a spiritual versus physical relationship (vv. 10-17) 2); John’s response of faith when he saw the evidence – the empty tomb, the undisturbed grave clothes and burial cloth (facial cloth) – “He saw and believed” (v.8) though he did not still understand all this meant; 3) Jesus’ appearance to the 11 (except Thomas) on the same day (Sunday) and their belief (v.20); 4) Jesus’ commissioning of the disciples (v. 21) and breathing on them the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. (v. 23) 5) Jesus stoops to conquer as He encouraged doubting Thomas to see, touch and believe, and Thomas’ powerful statement of belief – “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28) affirming the deity of Christ.
Ken Boa in his book I’m Glad You Asked gives eight facts about the resurrection from the four gospels to show that our faith is built on eye-witness accounts of historical evidence. 1) Jesus died and was pronounced dead. (Mark 15:44-45); 2) Jesus was placed in a tomb witnessed by soldiers who then put a seal on to identify it. (Matt. 27:66); 3) the disciples were fearful and discouraged with no hope that Jesus would rise from the dead (John 20:19) which is completely reversed after they know He is risen. 4) They became fearless and bold witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. 5) Mary and her friends, Peter and John, all saw the empty tomb and no body was ever produced to prove they were lying. 6) The Roman seal was broken and the large stone was rolled away (not so Jesus could get out – He could walk through walls) but so witnesses could get in and see He had risen. (Matt. 28:2); 7) The grave clothes of Jesus were found empty yet completely undisturbed. (John 20:3-8); 8) And Jesus appeared on ten different occasions over 40 days to Mary and her friends, the disciples, to Peter alone, to His half-brother James and to more than 500 at one time. (John 20: 11-18; Matt. 28:8-10; 1 Cor. 15:5; Luke 24:13-32; John 20:19-25; John 20:26-28; John 21:1-14; Matt. 28:16-20; 1 Cor. 15:7; Acts 1:3-12)
Since the fall of man every person is born guilty and in prison (captives of Satan – 2 Tim. 2:26) awaiting execution (Heb. 9:27) the penalty of death (hell) for transgressing the laws of God. Jesus comes and offers every person freedom from prison and a complete pardon because He was executed in our stead (the cross). “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17) Yet many people choose to remain imprisoned and await judgment because of unbelief or self-righteousness. “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Gal. 2:21) “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John 3:36)
For the unbeliever who rejects Christ and for us as believers let me conclude this series, Who Do You Say that I Am, by encouraging us with this word “Behold” used by the writers of Scripture to point people to Jesus for salvation and for our on-going walk with Him and for our preparation to meet Him face to face.
BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD – “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Jesus was God’s Lamb of sacrifice. “Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." And he said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb.” (Gen. 22:8) And Jesus’ death on the cross fulfilled this prophecy. “For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.” (1 Cor. 5:7) Even as the believing Israelites had to put the blood of a lamb on the doorposts of their house so the death angel would “passover” (Exodus 12:1-29) so we must by faith trust Christ’s shed blood for the forgiveness of our sins.
BEHOLD THE MAN – “Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Behold, the Man!" (John 19:5). How then shall we live? Jesus the Man is our Model and Exemplar on how to live; not St. Paul or Mother Teresa or Billy Graham or any human being. God calls us to be conformed to the image of His Son, not any one else. (Rom. 8:29) And though Paul said He fell short of this, yet he pressed on toward Christ-likeness. (See Phil. 3:10-14) Jesus showed absolute dependence on God and absolute submission to His will. (John 5:19; Matt. 26:39) and calls us to live the same life of humility before God. (Phil. 2:5-7) With man, He was the servant of all and yet spoke the truth in love and often hard truths. (See John 6:41-69): So we too are to “Submit to one another (serve one another) out of reverence for Christ.”(Eph. 5:21). “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Behold, I am coming soon – “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” (Rev. 22:12) We are saved by grace but we are rewarded for all eternity based on works done in the power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God. “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (1 Cor. 3:10-15) “I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun (works done for selfish and earthly benefits), and behold, all is vanity.” (Eccl. 1:14) “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:58)
BEHOLDING THE GLORY OF THE LORD – “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord,(of Jesus Christ), are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Cor. 3:18). As we keep looking at Jesus through the Scriptures by the Spirit’s illumination and follow Him in obedience, God will change us to be more and more like Him by the power of the Holy Spirit.
fix your eyes on Jesus – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1, 2) The writer of Hebrews tells us how to finish our race well by looking at Jesus the Model for a life of faith. Jesus is the author (source) and perfecter (the One Who matures our faith) as we follow His example. “It is finished” was a shout of victory for Him as He lived a perfect life of faith and obedience to the Father. And as we follow Him by faith we can say with Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:7-8)
Until He comes,
Len and Kristen