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 get 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 opened 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 claim 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. You’ve probably heard the saying, “ALL DRESSED UP AND NO PLACE TO GO”. That saying is sometimes found on tombstones. 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. So we do have “some place to go” – every one of us!
I’m going to call the first road “The Narrow Road” because, sadly, there are so few who follow it. This road or path 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.” . That phrase standing alone may seem to say that “good deeds” are what get us into heaven. From the context, Jesus is saying that genuine repentance and faith in Him is going to result in a changed life, and the “good deeds” are the observable evidence of that changed life. If a person is a genuine believer, it should be obvious to the world around him. This “resurrection of life” is the resurrection of Christians and saints of the Old Testament to eternal life with no more death (Revelation 21:4). I Thessalonians 4:16-17 describes the scene. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” That is a description of the next event on the prophetic calendar. It’s referred to as the Rapture and it could happen at any moment. All believers will stand before the Judgment seat of Christ, where each of our lives will be completely reviewed (II Corinthians 5:10), and rewards will be given for faithful service. My understanding of the “judgment seat of Christ” is that it is going to be “play-back time” for each of us believers. We are each going to be watching a re-run of our lives, and you know how you hate to watch re-runs on TV! Every thought, word, action, and attitude, whether good or bad, will pass before our eyes or in our minds before any rewards are given. We’ll consider that in more detail at the conclusion of this message.
III. THE FIFTH RESURRECTION: TO ETERNAL CONDEMNATION
The fifth and final resurrection will be the resurrection to condemnation. A father and his son were reading epitaphs on some of the gravestones in a cemetery. Every description seemed to indicate that the deceased person was in a state of bliss. After a while, the boy asked, “Daddy, where are all the wicked people buried?”
The child had a point. There are many who have lived their lives in a way that is evil in the sight of God, and have refused to acknowledge their sins, and commit their lives to Jesus Christ by faith. Many enjoy their immorality and even boast of it, defying God. They live as if they don’t realize that there is an occupation many perform here on earth that is also practiced in heaven – accounting! At the end of verse 29, the Lord Jesus tells His listeners, “those who committed the evil deeds to the resurrection of judgment.”
You may be wondering: “Where are all the unbelieving dead residing until the resurrection of judgment”? Their souls are not in hell. II Peter 2:4 says, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment”. The word “hell” is the Greek word tartarus, and this is the only place it is found in the New Testament. II Peter 2:9 says, “ The Lord knows how to . . . keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment.” In Luke 16:23, Jesus refers to this place as “hades”, and it is a place of torment. That’s where they are residing before the resurrection to judgment.
Billions of unrepentant, unregenerate sinners from all of mankind throughout human history will be standing before the Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be condemned to the lake of fire. You can find the description of the great white throne judgment in Revelation 20:11-15. Verse 15 says, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” You have never watched a horror movie that’s worse than the description given in those verses. Matthew 25:45 and II Thessalonians 1:8-9 tell us that it is an everlasting punishment. The prophet Amos gave the people of his day a warning when he said, “Prepare to meet your God” (Amos 4:12).
Are you prepared to meet God? Please don’t put aside or put off choosing to make the Lord Jesus Christ the Lord of your life. Consider the risks you are taking. You could die at any moment and the Lord could come at any moment. In either case, it will be too late to change your mind. There are no second-chances and no loopholes.
Warren Wiersbe tells about a frontier town where a horse bolted and ran away with a wagon carrying a little boy. Seeing the child in danger, a young man risked his life to catch the horse and stop the wagon. The child who was saved grew up to be a lawless man, and one day he stood before a judge to be sentenced for a serious crime. The prisoner recognized the judge as the man who had saved his life, so he pled for mercy on the basis of that experience. But the words from the bench silenced his plea: “Young man, then I was your savior; today I am your judge, and I must sentence you to be hanged.”
Today, Jesus Christ wants to be your Lord and Savior if you will repent of your sins and turn your life over to His control. He gave His life in order to make that possible. Don’t put it off until you stand before Him as Judge and hear the words, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire!”
If you would like to read a presentation of the Gospel message given in the Scriptures, please click the following link provided by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Assoc.: https://peacewithgod.net/steps-to-peace-with-god.
Fellow Christians, in view of the coming judgment seat of Christ that awaits us, and the great white throne judgment that’s ahead for unbelievers, what should be our attitude and our focus?
I personally believe that the judgment seat of Christ should be a source of rejoicing and encouragement among believers. The Syriac expression, “maranatha” (“our Lord comes”) was used as a greeting in the early church. When believers gathered or parted, they didn’t say “hello” or “goodbye”, but “maranatha”. It was the Christian “aloha”. If we Christians had that same upward look and perspective today, it would add to our joy and anticipation in the midst of the struggles we face each day. Let’s use the coming rapture as a means of encouraging one another. The “day is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25). The judgment seat of Christ is also a reminder that, as God’s children, we are stewards of our lives, and of all that God has entrusted to us. (I Thessalonians 4:1; I Peter 4:10-11; I John 2:28; 3:3).
Brethren in Christ, don’t forget to think about and reflect upon the great white throne judgment in Revelation 20. There is a sense in which it applies to us. God is a holy God. Therefore He hates sin and pours out His wrath on guilty sinners. Look through the Old Testament. You’ll see it everywhere because His people kept turning away from Him. God hasn’t changed. He is still a holy God. To satisfy His holiness, He poured out His wrath for sin on His Son. When we repented and turned to Christ as our Lord and Savior, the judgment of God was taken away and we were declared innocent. That “turning” on our part was probably in answer to the prayers and the witness of many people.
Do you have a clear, biblical understanding of the holiness of God, the wrath of God, the great white throne judgment, and eternal condemnation in the lake of fire? If you do, it should cause you to tremble and shutter when you think of those close to you and around you who are facing eternal condemnation. They need your sincere prayers and witness. In Romans 10:1 the apostle Paul said, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they might be saved.” In II Corinthians 5:20 he says, “We beg you (implore you, plead with you) on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God”. May God increase our burden to pray for the lost, and may He empower our witness as we plead with them to be reconciled to God and escape His wrath through the shed blood of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. May we be ready and eager to see the Lord Jesus when He comes, and our work on this earth is over. Until then, there is much work to be done for the Kingdom of God.
CONSTRUCTION SITE: COMPLETED
Welcome to this completed construction site: John 5:26-29. Thanks for visiting. It’s time to gather up my gear and equipment, and set up a new construction site next door: John 5:30-33. You’re welcome to grab your own tool belt and join the crew, or stop by and watch as the construction takes place. See you then! Maranatha!