We live in the United States of America, which is generally considered by the whole world to be a “Christian nation.” But there’s a serious danger when we, as Americans, think we’re Christian just because of the culture we’ve grown up in.
June 14, 2018
As Christians we live in hope of the resurrection, and we have that glorious hope because of one very special resurrection.
God raised at least three people from death in the Old Testament. He used Elijah to raise the son of a widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:20–22). He used Elisha in a similar way by raising the son of a Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:32–35). He also resurrected a body that was tossed into a grave and touched Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13:21).
Then there were several individuals in the New Testament, including the well-known account of Lazarus, plus the dead saints who were raised when Jesus died on the cross (Matthew 27:52,53). The Bible says that as He died “He cried out again with a loud voice” (verse 50). Perhaps the dead saints heard His voice and couldn’t stay in the grave.
“God raising dead people is not incredible. He made everything in the first place, and with Him nothing is impossible.”
In other words, it’s no big deal for God to raise the dead. In Acts 26:8 Paul says to King Agrippa, “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?”
God raising dead people is not incredible. He made everything in the first place, and with Him nothing is impossible.
Jesus said a similar thing. He told His disciples not to “marvel” that He was going to raise every dead person to life:
Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth… (John 5:28,29)
If we do marvel or think that it’s incredible, then we don’t believe that the impossible is normal with God.
But the resurrection of Jesus from the dead was anything but normal. It was both incredible and marvelous. It was unique, because of what it signified. It wasn’t just a demonstration of the miraculous power of God, but a demonstration the approval of God. It was a statement that the redemption of lost sinners was indeed “finished,” as Jesus said it was when He was on the cross (John 19:30).
His resurrection was the permanent turning on of the light in the darkness, and the darkness fled at the speed of light.
Charles Spurgeon said of the resurrection of Jesus:
But it was more than a miracle of power, for all the attributes of God united their glory in the resurrection of Christ. God’s love came there, and opened those closed eyes; his delight bejewelled those deadly wounds; his wisdom set in motion that pierced heart. Divine justice claimed his loosing from the grave, and mercy smiled as she lit up his face with an immortal smile. There and then did Jehovah make all his glory to pass before us, and he proclaimed the name of the Lord. If you ask where God’s glory most is seen, I will not point to creation, nor to providence, but to the raising of Jesus from the dead.
Death still had power over all whom God had previously raised from the dead. They still had to face its cold hand. But when Jesus rose, it was a permanent resurrection. He would never die again.
There are no words to express the significance of the empty tomb. Death could not hold Him; it was defused of its power. The plug was pulled. It was rendered useless. The enemy was defeated, and the flag of victory raised forever over the grave. The Scriptures tell us, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11). His victory was our victory. We now say with Paul, “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).
In the song “Because He Lives,” Gloria and Bill Gaither can only hint at the joy of this amazing victory:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!
Can you imagine the emotions that gripped Mary Magdalene in the garden tomb? Jesus had been dead for a long and dark three days. But the despair that hung over her like a shroud left with one word. It was more than a word; it was a name—hers. “Mary!” (John 20:16). Until that moment she thought He was the gardener. It was His voice, saying her name, that convinced her that He had conquered death.
“The hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come forth. So what do you think you will hear His voice say at the resurrection?”
Four-days-dead Lazarus heard His voice, and like Mary, it was personalized. It was his own name: “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43). The voice of the Savior saying his name raised him from the dead.
Do not marvel at this, dear Christian, but the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come forth. So what do you think you will hear His voice say at the resurrection?
I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s personalized.