The Risen Lord

“Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.” —I Corinthians 15:20

THAT Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of his Heavenly Father is one of the essential fundamentals of true Christianity. On this fact depends the hope of life beyond the grave for all mankind. The Apostle Paul argues that if Christ be not risen our faith and preaching are vain and we are yet in our sins. But Christ is risen, the apostle declares, and is “become the firstfruits of them that slept.” His church will be raised and joined with him in the “first resurrection,” and later all mankind will hear his voice and thus be awakened from the sleep of death. If this is not so, Paul writes, “then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.”—I Cor. 15:18

The modernistic trend of thought in many church circles today is away from belief in the literal resurrection of Jesus. Attempts are made to explain this miracle away, yet those who do this still call themselves Christians. But to those who have faith in the Scriptures, Christ’s resurrection is the wellspring of their hope. Peter writes that God hath “begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (I Pet. 1:3) Because he died and lives again, all will have the opportunity of living. Concerning this Jesus himself said, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore … and have the keys of hell and of death.”—Rev. 1:18

Jesus was put to death in the flesh, the Scriptures declare, and made alive in the Spirit. (I Pet. 3:18) Previous to his death he explained to his disciples that he would give his flesh, his humanity, for the life of the world. (John 6:51) He was not, therefore, raised from the dead as a human being, but as a divine, immortal being. Paul explains that he was “raised … far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named.” (Eph. 1:20,21) When, as the Logos, he was “made flesh,” he became a “little lower than the angels” (Heb. 2:9); but, as we have seen, in his resurrection he was exalted high above them.

The fact that Jesus appeared in the upper room and showed nail prints in his hands and a wound in his side does not mean that this was his resurrection body. The explanation of what occurred in that room, where he appeared when the doors were closed, is found in the 30th verse of the 20th chapter of John, where we read, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples.” Here John, referring to the miraculous appearance of Jesus recorded in the previous verses, speaks of it as a “sign.”

This harmonizes perfectly with the full account. Jesus had appeared to the disciples when Thomas was absent. When Thomas was told later about this appearance, he declared that he would not believe unless he could see the nail prints in Jesus’ hands and the wound in his side. Jesus, invisibly present with them, heard this, and he appeared again eight days later in similar form to that which he had when he was crucified, in order that Thomas might be convinced. If this had been Jesus’ actual resurrection body, John would not have referred to it as “a sign.” Jesus had appeared to his disciples a number of other times, but only on these two occasions did his body resemble the one that had been crucified. The Apostle Paul, years later, caught a glimpse of Jesus as he actually is since his resurrection, and the brightness was so dazzling that Paul was blinded by it.—Acts 9:3-9; 26:13-16

The conversation with Peter, when Jesus appeared on the shore of the lake as a fisherman, is both touching and instructive. Peter had denied the Lord and was quite willing, when asked, to affirm his love for the Master; and Jesus was willing to forgive Peter and to commission him to serve him. But when Jesus asked essentially the same question the third time, Peter was grieved. He wondered and said to his Lord, “Thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.”—John 21:15-18

In the upper room, just before Jesus was crucified, Peter had affirmed his loyalty to his Master, but Jesus had told him of the coming denial. From this Peter had learned that Jesus could read his heart, hence the expression now, “Thou knowest all things.” Peter knew that his heart was loyal to Jesus and, realizing that Jesus could read his heart, wondered why the question should be asked so many times. Jesus knew, however, that Peter would be strengthened by repeating his declaration of love and loyalty and that the other disciples would thereby learn that Peter was now in full fellowship with his Master. And what a wonderful commission was given to Peter!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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