The Resurrection of Christ

One man, Josh Mc Dowell, tried to disprove the resurrection of Christ for his college thesis. As he began to study and write, his careful study of the Scriptures, evidence from history, and his own logical reasoning led him to the opposite conclusion. In fact, the evidence that he uncovered affected him to his core. He wrote a book called “Evidence that Demands a Verdict,” which has become one of the most popular Christian books of our time. It certainly illuminates the whole resurrection story. The climax of this story, i.e. Jesus’ rising from the dead, gives us all a foretaste of the victory we can expect to experience as Christians. Death had no power over Jesus. It will have no power over us.

Having watched where Joseph and Nicodemus put the body, it is likely that the women, having different homes in which they were staying, decided to meet at dawn at the tomb to put more spices on the body. The first there that morning was Mary Magdalene. She came alone while it was still dark, John tells us:

1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” 3So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) (John 20:1-9).

She did not go into the tomb, but her immediate thought after seeing that the stone had been rolled away (and without looking further) was to run to where she knew John and Peter were staying the night. She burst into the house and stated that they had taken the body of the Lord and that she did not know where they had put Him. Perhaps, she was accusing the religious leadership, thinking that they did not want Christ to be buried in a rich man’s tomb and given an honorable burial. I’m sure she was angry and very tearful at the loss of Christ’s body. John wrote about how the news was received by the disciples that morning. When Mary Magdalene burst into the room to tell them the incredible news, John and Peter reacted by running to the tomb. John writes that, after Peter went in, he also went into the tomb (John 20:8). What do you think he saw that made him believe? (Verse 8).

It’s possible that they had thoughts of accusation and anger toward the religious leadership because Mary had thought someone had stolen the body (v. 2). It is likely that Peter and John did not know what to expect as they started running to the tomb. John does not mention an angel when they arrived at the tomb. He writes about the strips of linen, and he mentions the way the head cloth was folded by itself and separate from the linen (v. 7). We know from Luke’s Gospel (23:53) that the body was wrapped in strips of cloth and that the spices were placed inside the wrappings as custom dictated. It seems very likely that what John and Peter saw was that the shape of the wrappings and spices were still completely intact, and that the body of Jesus had passed through the strips of linen, thus leaving a cocoon with the cloth that was around His head laying there on its own. He saw and believed.

This is a shortened version of the study in the Gospel of Luke. Click on study 64 at this link, The Resurrection of Christ (Luke 23:50-24:12). Keith Thomas.

The Raising of Jairus’ Daughter

49While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore” 50Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” 51When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.” 53They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened (Luke 8:49-56).

Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed” (v. 50). When they got to his home, the professional mourners were there, crying and wailing at the loss to the family. The Lord said to them, “Stop wailing,” “She is not dead but asleep.” 53They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead” (vs. 52-53). The Greek word translated as laughed in verse 24, is a scornful belly laugh at the words of Jesus. The mourners ridiculed Christ, knowing what death looked like. They were not beginners at funerals. She was not asleep. This was no coma. They were witnesses to the death of the twelve-year-old. What did Jesus mean by saying that she was asleep? Those who are of the household of faith in Christ never die. Our body may be put in the ground, but we are very much alive at the point of departure of the body.

Some believe that, when a Christian dies, his soul sleeps and that he is unconscious until Christ comes for him or her at the resurrection. The Bible does have a few passages where Jesus talked about death for a Christian as “sleep.” In the case of when Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, He deliberately waited another two days before He even left for the tomb (John 11:6). The Lord waited so that He could prove to the skeptics that He had authority over death. Jews believed that the dead person’s spirit could remain around his body for up to two days before going on to the afterlife. Lazarus was not sleeping in the tomb. He was dead.

11After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 12His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep (John 11:11-13).

[Jesus said:] “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).

The believer in Christ is never dead; he is separated from his body, a state that Jesus calls “sleep.” A person is only dead, according to the Lord Jesus, when he has not entered into a relationship with Christ (Ephesians 2:1, 5). We are told that, at this moment in heaven, there are the spirits of just men made perfect (Hebrews 12:23). In another place, when Christ returns for His church at the Rapture, “God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). Their bodies are in the grave, but they themselves, the unseen part of our nature, i.e. our spirit and soul, are very much alive and with the Lord.

When I get into my car, it is dead until I turn on the ignition. It will do nothing at all without my driving it. In the same way, the real me is composed of a spirit and soul that “drives” my body. The real person lives on beyond death. There is more to life than just this body of flesh.

At a funeral we bury something, not someone; it is the house not the tenant that is lowered into the grave. Verna Wright.

 1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Paul the Apostle wrote: “We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). He fully expected that, the instant his body released him, he would go immediately to be with the Lord. If you are a Christian, the body is seen by the Lord to be “asleep” until the resurrection of the dead at the coming of the Lord. To be “absent” from one’s body simply means to die because, at death, the spirit is separated from the body and moves into its eternal abode—either heaven with the Lord, or hell, separated from God for eternity.

Back to Luke’s testimony. The Lord just took Jairus and his wife, plus His three closest disciples: Peter, James and John. It was an intimate moment with the Savior. Can you imagine the joy of your only child coming back to life from being dead! He cares for us in our pain, He cares for us in our trouble. Jesus cares! 54But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. (Luke 8:54-55). When Jesus took the daughter’s hand and told her to get up, Luke tells us that her spirit returned (v. 55). What a wonderful sight as her eyes flickered before opening and seeing the face of the Lord Jesus. Many of us reading these words will one day have that experience of shutting the eyes of flesh and seeing the Lord Jesus as we pass into real life—eternal life. Where had the little girl been? Her body was dead and laying on the bed before the Lord and three of His disciples, but the real person, her spirit, had been somewhere else—with the Father in heaven. I hope to see you there. Keith Thomas

Jesus on the Emmaus Road

We are continuing to read about the drama as to how the resurrection of Jesus was received by the disciples of Jesus (Scroll down for yesterday’s meditation).

13Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16but they were kept from recognizing him. 17He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19“What things?” he asked.  “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see” (Luke 24:13-24).

In this passage, we have two disciples of Christ walking together toward the village of Emmaus, seven miles westward of Jerusalem. We are told the name of one, Cleopas (Verse 11), but not the other. The day they were walking we know to be Resurrection Sunday, the third day after the crucifixion of Christ (Verse 21). Passover had finished, but the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasted seven days, was continuing. To walk any further than a mile on the Sabbath was considered work, so this was their first opportunity to walk more than a mile. We don’t know why they were walking westward away from Jerusalem; it may have been that they were walking to their homes or to a place of work.

As they walked, a stranger came walking along behind them. The stranger caught up and walked beside them, listening to a very deep and intense conversation. Cleopas and his friend were comparing notes with one another and reflecting on the last three days’ events (Verse 14). Perhaps, they talked about the curtain torn from top to bottom in the Temple (Matthew 27:51), i.e. the curtain that separated man from God. Maybe they talked about the tombs breaking open at the death of Christ and about the bodies of many holy people coming out of their grave (Matthew 27:52). The two were believers but not of the eleven Apostles. They were probably two of the 120 disciples that were gathered in the Upper Room for the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, still forty–seven days away (fifty days after Passover).

They had become disillusioned since the One they hoped would redeem them had been murdered at the hands of the religious leaders. Depression and discouragement had settled in their hearts. Their belief and trust had been thrown to the ground, “We had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Verse 21). We are told two things about this appearance to the two. Luke tells us, “They were kept from recognizing him” (Verse 16). Some think it was the setting sun in their faces as they walked westward in the late afternoon. Others think that it was because he had a cloak with a hood on it that kept them from seeing clearly His face.

It is a lesson to those who are strong believers to come alongside those who are discouraged or weak in their faith. We are to encourage one another by explaining the Scriptures that our God is never far from us, even when we are low in our faith. He is always close at hand and ready to meet with us, especially when we lack understanding in what He is doing in us and through us. God will manifest Himself to those who are seeking Him and enquiring after Him: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). I pray that today, if you don’t understand all that God is doing in your life, that Christ might come and walk with you today.

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, found in the middle column near to the top. Click on study 65 at this link, Jesus on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:13-35). Keith Thomas.

They Will be Like the Angels in Heaven

We are continuing our meditation from yesterday on the topic of Jesus’ words in Luke, chapter 20, where Jesus was talking about the eternal state. To the Sadducees who had scoffed at the thought of a resurrection of the dead, He had four thoughts for them. We looked at the first one yesterday, we’ll look at the second and third today. Here’s what He said:

34Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” (Luke 20:34-38).

2) The Lord speaks of the resurrection as a fact (v. 35), and although the Sadducees only use the five books of Moses, Christ used those books to prove the patriarchs are very much alive at the time He spoke these words, they are at the present time with the Lord. Jesus stated to them, “Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive” (vv. 37-38). When God spoke those words to Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had been dead for more than 400 years. The Lord reminded the Sadducees that God didn’t say, “I was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but they were very much alive after they had passed from this world, and He used the present tense to speak of them.

The Sadducees could see no evidence of resurrection in the five books of Moses, but they had a moment of revelation at the insight of Jesus. After this debate, no one dared to ask Jesus any more questions. His arguments were causing the religious leaders to question their own beliefs and they were not successful in swaying the crowd away from Jesus.

3) There is no death in the eternal state, for those who are considered worthy will be like the angels (Verse 36). If we are to be like the angels, what does that mean? Angels are trusted with great power. When the Assyrians attacked Jerusalem, King Hezekiah of Israel cried out to the Lord to deliver Jerusalem. God sent one angel. The power of one angel was enough to defeat a whole army!

36Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! (Isaiah 37:36).

The word angel literally means messenger. They were described as having a brilliant appearance. Often, the reaction when people encountered them in Scripture was to be afraid and to fall to the ground (Daniel 10:5-9). Meeting an angel is overwhelming to our physical state. We could say much about the holiness, power, and character of the angels, but suffice it to say that the believer in Christ, if he is to be like the angels, will be an awesome personality that will radiate the likeness of the Lord. Paul the Apostle told the Corinthian Church that God’s people would be “sown in weakness” but “raised in power” (I Corinthians 15:43). We are told in the book of Daniel the prophet, that those who are counted worthy, or wise, will radiate light when the end shall come and the dead are raised:

2Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever (Daniel 12:2-3).

I don’t know about you, but I want that! Are you helping those around you to come to receive the righteousness of Christ? If you are, then you are wise!

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, found in the middle column near to the top. To view, click here. Click on study 54. Luke 20:20-47. Questions About Eternity. Keith Thomas

What is the Rapture of the Saints?

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[a] that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV).

There are some Christians who do not believe that there will be a rapture of the saints. I don’t know how they get around the plain understanding of these verses. Sure, I agree with them that the word rapture is not found in the Bible. The word Rapture is a word we use to describe the church, the people of God, being caught up to heaven. The English word comes from the Latin word rapere, meaning rapid. The Latin word rapere is from the original Greek word, harpazō, translated as “caught up” in theKing James Version and English Standard Version, as in the passage above. Harpazō means: “to strip, spoil, snatch. To seize upon with force; to rob. It is an open act of confiscatory violence…to snatch or tear away, yank away, pluck out of, remove by swiftly and aggressively grasping.”[1] There is coming a time when the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout (how those that have refused and scorned His grace and act of love will tremble), and at that instant we will be snatched from this earth and changed as we are gathered together to be forever with Christ. It goes along with what Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the change in our nature:

“in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality (1 Corinthians 15:52-53).

This word, changed, what does it mean? That which is on the inside, the real you, the character that God has been working on throughout your life, will someday be revealed. Our new bodies will not be the same as our old nature that we inherited from Adam; Paul says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50). It will no longer be perishable but imperishable (15:53). We won’t all sleep; there will be some who are transformed instantly without going through the death process. This is the rapture or being caught up, whichever word you wish to use. When Christ comes, in a flash, in the batting of an eye’s time, we will be changed from having a perishable body to being clothed with an imperishable body (Verses 51-52).

…the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body (Philippians 3:20-21 Emphasis mine).

Isn’t this your longing and desire, to be like Jesus?—I hope it is. What a wonderful thing. This word that is translated transform is the Greek word Metaschēmatizō. It is a construction of two Greek words. Meta means a change of place or condition, and schēma meaning shape, or outward form. To transform, change the outward form or appearance of something, refashion, reshape.[2] There is a rapture of the saints at the coming of Jesus, a transformation. That which is on the inside will be revealed—and it will be glorious:

2Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever (Daniel 12:2-3).

Taken from the series The Second Coming of Christ, found in the middle column. Click on the study, The Rapture and Day of the Lord. Keith Thomas

[1] Key Word Study Bible, AMG publishers. 773 Harpazō.

[2] Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers, Page 1651.