For I know that my Redeemer lives,[Job 19:25-27]
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
26And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
27whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!
As I ponder the unsearchable depths of God’s mercy and love displayed on the cross of Christ this Good Friday, I also want to reflect on the immeasurable power of His resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian faith and the central event in history that validates the truth of the gospel and the divine nature of God’s Son.
Only Jesus has demonstrated power over the grave and declared victory once and for all over death. He stands alone and is without equal, and He alone is able to give eternal life to all who believe in Him [Romans 6:23, John 11:25-26].
No human in history has been able to beat death, and therefore Jesus in His resurrection power is the only hope for all mankind.
Volumes have been written on the ramifications of the resurrection, so I am not sure if I can add much to what has already been said. Having said that, here are a few thoughts on what the Bible says about the resurrection.
The Resurrection is an Expectation in the Old Testament
Many may be surprised to discover that before the New Testament witness about the incarnation of the Messiah — Jesus Christ — the resurrection was deeply established in the Hebrew Scriptures — or Old Testament. As in the opening passage above from Job, the expectation of a final resurrection of the body is not merely a New Testament idea. The patriarchs and the prophets understood that God’s grand plan of redemption would culminate at the end of this present age with the renewal of all things in the age to come.
Hebrews tells us that Abraham offered up Isaac in faith, believing that God would raise his beloved son from the dead [Hebrews 11:17-19]. Moses, David, Elijah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel all prophesied about the day of resurrection, and more importantly about the coming Redeemer who would raise and gather God’s people in the end.
Consider just a few of those prophetic passages that we discover in the Old Testament.
Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.[Isaiah 26:19]
You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light,
and the earth will give birth to the dead.
Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.14And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”[Ezekiel 37:12-14]
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.[Daniel 12:3-4]
As you can see, the resurrection is not a New Testament idea, but it did take the first advent of Christ to bring it into an entirely new perspective.
Jesus is the Firstfruits of Resurrection
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.[1 Corinthians 15:20]
The death of Jesus Christ on the cross can only be validated in light of His resurrection. Jesus was raised for our justification, proving that His sacrifice on the cross was acceptable to the Father and sufficient to save sinners. Without the resurrection of Jesus, our faith is futile and we are still in our sins [1 Cor. 15:17].
Beyond that, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s demonstration of power over death that provides the blessed assurance and eternal hope that we too will live in Christ. Jesus makes the most definitive declaration about Himself in John’s gospel.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?[John 11:25-26]
God has declared a Day when He has promised to redeem all of creation, including our physical bodies [see Romans 8:18-24]. Until that Day, all who believe in Christ receive the promised Holy Spirit as a deposit to guarantee our future resurrection. Jesus is the firstfruits, and all who believe in Him will be raised up on the last day as part of God’s great harvest!
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.[Romans 8:11]
The Resurrection of the Righteous will Occur on the Last Day
For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.[John 6:40]
From Job to Daniel to Jesus to Paul, the testimony of the Biblical prophets is in absolute agreement. The resurrection of God’s people takes place at the end of this age on the last day when Jesus returns in power and great glory. The 2nd Coming of Christ is the Day of resurrection [see 1 Cor. 15:21-26]. It is the Day of God’s final gathering of His people. It is the harvest of the righteous to inherit the Kingdom [see Matthew 13:36-43].
The resurrection is the most critical and distinguishable element and identifying marker in Scripture that determines the timing of the return of Christ to earth, the rapture of the church, the recompense for evil, and the restoration of all things. The Bible is clear. The resurrection of the righteous takes place on the last day of this present age.
But each will be resurrected in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.[1 Corinthians 15:23-24]
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the coming kingdom of God. In other words, it is impossible for anyone to enter God’s kingdom in mortal flesh. No one can dwell in God’s holy presence on earth without first receiving a glorified, immortal body, and no one will receive their resurrected body until Jesus Christ returns to earth as King of kings.
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.[1 Corinthians 15:50-52]
It will be at that moment — when we receive our immortal, glorified bodies — that we finally will be conformed to the image of Christ and His likeness forever! Until that Day, we rest in the finished work of Christ upon the cross for us, and we rejoice in the hope of the future glory that will be revealed in us when Jesus returns!
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God … And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.[Romans 8:19, 23]
Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus! Come!