There is much we can learn from little children. They are so eager to learn, and so straight-forward in their conversations with adults. Here is a case in point. It was Sunday morning and the church service was over. A little girl had been taught about the second coming of Christ and was quizzing her mother. “Mommy, do you believe Jesus will come back?” “Yes”. “Today?” “Yes.” “In a few minutes?” “Yes, dear.” “Mommy, would you comb my hair?”
That little girl thought her mother was paying close attention to what she was saying and was answering her clearly, so she wanted to look her best when she meets Jesus! How about you? Do you want to look your best when you meet Jesus? That topic of conversation is appropriate to the passage of Scripture we are now studying: John 5:26-29. Jesus mentions five resurrections in verses 24-29 and we examined the first two, which the Lord Jesus described in verses 24-25. The spiritual regeneration and resurrection of believers was described by Jesus in verse 24, and the physical resurrections from the dead by the words of Jesus are predicted in verse 25 and will be happening soon. There are three more resurrections described by the Lord Jesus in the order of their occurrence. Jesus is sharing that information as further proof to the Jews that He is the Son of God. Let’s take a look at those resurrections, one-at-a-time.
I. THE THIRD RESURRECTION: HIS OWN (verse 26)
In verse 26 we find these words spoken by Jesus: “For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself.” You may wonder, “What does that verse have to do with the resurrection of Christ?” “The word ‘resurrection’ isn’t even mentioned in that verse!” That’s a good question! Let’s see if we can find a satisfactory answer. The Lord Jesus uses a similar expression in John 10:17-18. “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I have received from My Father.”
Putting these two passages of Scripture together, Jesus is saying that He always existed with the Father. No one gave Him life because He has always had it, from all eternity. Only God could say that truthfully. Therefore only Jesus could lay down His life and take it back up again. Warren Wiersbe puts it this way: “Our life was derived, but His life is original.” As John 1:4 says, “In Him was life”. That’s why Jesus could say, in John 2:19, when the Jews asked for a sign after Jesus cleansed the temple, “Destroy this temple (His body), and in three day I will raise it up.”
We have looked at Scripture passages which seem to point to the fact that Jesus raised Himself from the dead by His own power. But the question, “Who raised Jesus Christ from the dead”, hasn’t been completely answered yet. There are other passages of Scripture which seem to disagree with that conclusion. Let’s take a look at some of those other Scriptures and see if we can resolve the issue once we take a good look at it.
Acts 10:40 says, “God raised Him on the third day”. In Romans 6:4, the apostle Paul says, “Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father”. In Romans 8:11, Paul says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dwells in you . . . “. So who raised Jesus from the dead? Was it God, the Father, the Holy Spirit, or Christ Himself?
You may disagree with the next statement, but keep reading. God is not a Person. God is a title that is given to the divine nature or essence. So when the term “God” is used, it represents all three Persons in the divine essence: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That helps us understand Acts 10:40, which says that “God raised Him”, but what about the Scriptures that speak specifically of the Father and the Spirit raising Jesus from the dead? I’m convinced that it was a cooperative effort, and the apostle John wanted to make that clear.
This is not the first time that all three Persons in the Trinity are mentioned. I’ve found that each of the three members of the Trinity is mentioned in every “major event” in history (from God’s perspective). Creation was the first “major event”, and all three are mentioned as participating (Genesis 1:2; 1:26; John 1:3). The words spoken by God, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” tell us that God wants us to know, right from the beginning of the Scriptures, that He is a plurality. The Jews knew that; one of the Hebrew words for God in the Old Testament Scriptures is the word “Elohim” which is plural. The second “main event” was the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary. Luke 1:35 says, “The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and the power of the Most-High will overshadow you.” Jesus was the “Seed of the Woman” Who was implanted in Mary’s womb (Genesis 3:17). I think that God wanted those particular words to be spoken to Mary so that she would know that this was the true and living God who was going to accomplish this miracle in her. The third “main event” was the baptism of Jesus, which marked the beginning of His public ministry. It’s recorded in all four gospels. Together with Jesus was the “voice of the Father, and the Holy Spirit descending as a Dove and resting upon Him.” Can you imagine what that scene must have looked like. The heavens opening up, causing everyone to look up into the sky. What they see is a dove descending out of heaven and they hear a booming voice say, “Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased” (Luke 3:21-22). The fourth “main event” is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, as we have already seen. His resurrection was so irrefutably true that the elders and the chief priests of the Jews gave a large sum of money to the guards and said, “you are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep” (Matthew 28:11-15). In each of those major events in the Scriptures, God wanted it to be known that the God of heaven and earth is a Trinity composed of three distinct Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
II. THE FOURTH RESURRECTION: TO ETERNAL LIFE (verses 27-29a)
In verse 27, Jesus says of God the Father, “and He gave Him (Jesus) authority to exercise judgment, because He is the Son of Man.” He’s telling the Jews that He has been given the authority to judge all men, and it’s based on the claim that He is the “Son of Man”. Evangelist Billy Sunday said in one of his sermons, “There are two hundred and fifty-six names given in the Bible for the Lord Jesus Christ.” I’ll take his word for it! The Jews knew very well what Jesus was saying about Himself when He used the name “Son of Man”. The prophet Daniel used those words in Daniel 7:13-14 as he was describing visions He had.
“I kept looking at the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like the Son of Man was coming
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations, and men of every language
Might serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away;
And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.”
The Jews listening to Jesus’ words knew that He was again claiming to be the Messiah. If His claim was true, then He had the right and the authority to judge the world.
Having made that claim again, the Lord Jesus continues, in verses 28-29, to describe the events and judgments that are going to take place in the future by the voice of His mouth. In verse 28 He says, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice”. Notice that Jesus begins with a caution or a warning: “Do not marvel at this”, as if its too amazing and far-fetched to be true. Think of all the amazing things God has done in the past. Jesus is speaking in the third-person, using the words “He” and “Him” instead of “I” and “Me”. He wants their focus to be on the word “Messiah” and what the prophets have declared about Him and His reign as King and Judge of all the earth.
Then Jesus does say something amazing. “all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice.” The dead can’t hear! They can when Jesus calls them! He’s going to be proving that very soon, only on a much smaller scale: one-at-a-time. But right now He’s talking about millions at one time. There are many today, and there have been many throughout the ages, who have chosen to believe that death is the end of one’s existence. But the Lord Jesus tells us that death is not a dead-end street. Rather, it is a fork in the road. Jesus is going to tell us about the two roads that split-off and continue in opposite directions forever after the road of this mortal-life ends.
I’m going to call the first road “The Narrow Highway” because, sadly, there are so few who follow it. This Highway often has much more than a one-percent grade, but if you ask any hiker, it can be a joyful and exhilarating experience if you bring along the right equipment, wear the proper clothing, have some fellow-hikers with you, and follow the rules. You’ll even build up some “spiritual muscles” along the way! And don’t forget to enjoy the scenery along the way, and give praise and glory to the One who created it!
The first half of verse 29 gives us a brief description of where this trail leads for the devoted followers of Jesus Christ: “those who did the good deeds to the resurrection of life.” It is a resurrection to eternal life with no more death (Revelation 21:4). Other passages of Scripture give us a much further explanation of Jesus’ words.
(MORE TO FOLLOW SOON)
Welcome to this new construction site: John 5:26-29. Construction is moving right along. I hope you have your Bible-study tools in hand and are studying along with me. I guess you could say that we are building a “memorial” to three very significant events in human history. One has already happened and two are yet to come. Let’s make this site attractive for the tourists, with a good, solid foundation and a “futuristic look” to cause their imaginations to focus, not only on what has already happened, but also on what lies ahead. May the Lord be with you! (Not “the Force”)