When Jesus sees all that is accomplished by His anguish, He will be satisfied. And because of His experience, God’s righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous with God, for He will bear all their sins. Isaiah 53:11 (NLT, adapted)
Seeing is Believing
Amy B. Hunter had emergency surgery. Her sister (call her “Ann”) was a busy professor with final exams to grade and was getting married in a few days. Yet Ann drove from New York City to Massachusetts in a snowstorm to see Amy in the hospital. A phone call wouldn’t be enough to reassure Ann that Amy was alive and well. Ann had to see with her own eyes. That’s because sometimes demanding to see is not doubt. Sometimes it is love.
Ann reminded Amy of the Apostle Thomas who wanted proof of Christ’s resurrection. Thomas was not a “bad guy,” not a dumb, doubting follower of Jesus. Thomas was a practical, concrete man who wanted evidence that Christ is risen from the dead. Thomas said, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” Jesus offered Thomas proof and said, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Then Thomas was convinced and called Jesus “My Lord and my God!” Amy Hunter says that Thomas’ words are the high point of John’s Gospel. Few expressed such high devotion or named Jesus as God so promptly and sincerely. Then the Lord changed Thomas’ whole life. According to tradition, Thomas traveled to modern-day Kerala in South India to spread Christ’s good news. Thomas was killed with a spear in AD 72, while obeying Jesus’ command to go and make disciples of all nations.1
This post builds on Eyewitnesses of Christ’s Resurrection
What has God accomplished in raising Jesus from the dead? Here are a few biblical answers.
Because of Christ’s Resurrection, He Will Never Die Again
Scriptures: We know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again. Death no longer has mastery over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God….God raised Him from the dead, never to decay.2
Comments: Jesus died a physical death on the cross and was physically buried. But death did not have the final say. Christ was raised from the grave by the power of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). God defeated death when Christ left the tomb behind, and it can never drag Him back again. Likewise, death cannot destroy Jesus’ followers since we are united to Him by faith. Fulfilling Psalm 2, Christ is now enthroned as the ever-living King of the universe. Sin, Satan, and death are no longer in charge. Jesus’ life was dedicated to God and He is our model. So His followers should count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, never forgetting our spiritual connection with our living Lord and Savior. Believers still stumble into sin, but we are never obligated to it. Jesus changes His saved ones so that we don’t want to keep on sinning without repenting.3
If Christ is dead, I must do everything for Him. Because He is living, Christ does everything for me, in me, and through me. (Andrew Murray)
Because of Christ’s Resurrection, He Intercedes for Us in Heaven Before God
Scriptures: Jesus who died and was raised to life is at God’s right hand and is also interceding for us….He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. So let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so we may receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need….Because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.4
Comments: Warren Wiersbe calls John 17 the greatest prayer ever prayed on earth and the greatest prayer ever recorded in Scripture. It contains three parts which point to Christ as the Overcomer: 1. Jesus prays to be glorified; 2. He prays for His first century disciples; and 3. Jesus prays for all believers who will follow Him in succeeding centuries. That includes us! In that third section, Christ prays that His followers be unified to convince outsiders of Jesus’ saving mission. We are not to grumble and argue with each other, but to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Fighting comes naturally to fallen people. Being peacemakers takes the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in us.
Christ also prays that we be marked by humility and service, just as Jesus Himself was. We are to demonstrate God’s love for people in concrete ways. Since others cannot see the Lord physically yet, we need to show them Christ’s transforming presence and work spilling out from us to them. The Apostle Paul imitates his Lord and prays, “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.”5 Praise God, Jesus’ prayers for us always get answered!
Jesus’ Resurrection Was the Beginning and Guarantee of Believers’ Resurrection
Scripture: Christ has indeed been raised from the dead…For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive….We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us in His presence.6
Comments: Jesus was the first to rise from the dead, and He rose as the Elder Brother, Leader, and Head of God’s new family. His resurrection raises His followers spiritually in this life and guarantees that we will be raised bodily when He returns. Scripture says that Christians “fall asleep in Jesus” (what a gentle phrase!) because our physical death is not permanent. Every believer will experience a bodily resurrection when we go to live in the New Heaven and the New Earth with our Savior. Because our Lord Jesus is alive and He has a glorified body, we know that we will also be raised bodily from the dead. We pray: “Come, Lord!”7
We Will Meet Again
In his book, A Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken tells of his last meeting with his friend C. S. Lewis. They ate lunch together, and when they had finished, Lewis said, “We’ll certainly meet again, here—or there.” Then he added: “I shan’t say goodbye. We’ll meet again.” And with that, they shook hands and parted. From across the street, above the noise of traffic, Lewis shouted, “Besides, Christians never say goodbye!”8
The word “goodbye” is actually a contraction of “God be with you,” so it is fine to say. When we say goodbye, Christians remind each other that we are the Lord’s people, dependent on Him. We want God to bless us and keep us, and make His face shine on us and be gracious to us, and turn His face toward us and give us His peace. When we say goodbye, we are admitting that we need the Lord to watch over us right now all through this life, up until the day of our eventual reunion with Jesus and all His people.
To be continued
Notes (various Bible translations used): 1 Amy B. Hunter, “The Show-Me Disciple,” Christian Century (5-13-02). Christ’s appearance to Thomas and the others is recorded in John 20:24-29. 2 Rom 6:9-10; Acts 13:34. 3 1 John 1:8–10, 2:1-2; 1 Cor 10:13; Gal 5:13–26; 1 John 3:7-10. 4 Rom 8:34; Heb 4:15-16, 7:23-25. 5 1 Thess 5:23-24. 6 1 Cor 15:20-23; 2 Cor 4:14. 7 See 1 Cor 16:22. The Greek for “Come, Lord” reproduces an Aramaic expression (Marana-tha) used by early Christians. 8 Wesley Hill, “A Severe Separation,” CT Magazine (Oct 2014), p. 34.