The Resurrection Part Of The Gospel Message!
If the Gospel of John were an ordinary biography, there would be no chapter 20. I am an incurable reader of biographies, and I notice that almost all of them conclude with the death and burial of the subject. I have yet to read one that describes the subject’s resurrection from the dead! The fact that John continued his account and shared the excitement of the Resurrection miracle is proof that Jesus Christ is not like any other man. He is, indeed, the Son of God.
The Resurrection is an essential part of the Gospel message (1 Cor. 15:1-8) and a key doctrine in the Christian faith. It proves that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Acts 2:32-36; Rom. 1:4) and that His atoning work on the cross has been completed and is effective (Rom. 4:24-25). The empty cross and the empty tomb are God’s “receipts” telling us that the debt has been paid. Jesus Christ is not only the Saviour, but He is also the Sanctifier (Rom. 6:4-10) and the Intercessor (Rom. 8:34). One day He shall return as Judge (Acts 17:30-31).
From the very beginning, the enemies of the Lord tried to deny the historic fact of the Resurrection. The Jewish leaders claimed that the Lord’s body had been stolen from the tomb.
This statement is absurd, for if His followers stole the body, how did they do it?
Roman soldiers guarded the tomb and the stone sealed by an official Roman seal. Furthermore, His disciples did not believe that He was to be raised from the dead; it was His enemies who remembered His words (Matt. 27:62-66). They certainly would not have taken the body! The last thing they wanted was anyone believing that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead.
If His friends could not steal the body, and His enemies would not, then who took it?
Perhaps the disciples had “visions” of the risen Lord and interpreted them as evidences for the Resurrection. But they did not expect to see Him, and that is not the kind of psychological preparation from which hallucinations are made.
And how could more than 500 people have the same hallucination at the same time? (1 Cor. 15:6)
Did the followers of our Lord perhaps go to the wrong tomb?
Not likely. They carefully watched where He was buried (Matt. 27:61; Mark 15:47; Luke 23:55). They loved the Master and were not likely to get confused about His resting place. In fact, as the women approached the tomb, they were worried about who would roll back the heavy stone (Mark 16:1-3); so they were acquainted with the situation.
As to the foolish argument that Jesus did not die, but only swooned and was later revived, little need be said. It was proved by many witnesses that Jesus was dead when His body was taken from the cross. Later, dependable witnesses saw Him alive. The only logical conclusion is that He kept His promise and arose from the dead.
But even His closest followers did not understand the glorious truth of the Resurrection immediately. It gradually dawned on these grieving people that their Master was not dead, but alive! And what a difference it made when the full realization of His resurrection took hold of them!
- For Mary Magdalene it meant moving from tears to joy (John 20:1-18);
- For the ten disciples it meant going from fear to courage (John 20:19-23); and
- For Thomas it meant moving from doubt to assurance (John 20:24-31).
With Mary, the emphasis is on love; with the ten, the emphasis is on hope; and with Thomas, the emphasis is on faith.
In my next blog we will go through the Gospel of John 20 in more detail. I am looking forward to studying the resurrection of Jesus with you.
Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Transformed