Mar 31, 2009, 7:31 AM
"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever." 1 Peter 1:24-25 Article 302
Incidents recorded in the Bible where people were raised from the dead may not be numerous but they are not rare either. Our Lord Jesus Himself brought back to life three people; Jairus' daughter, (Luke 8:41) Son of the widow of Nain, (Luke 7:15) and Lazarus (John 11:44). Except in the case of Jairus' daughter when he went with three of His disciples - Peter, John and James, and the child's parents into her bedroom, away from dubious and faithless eyes, (Luke 8:51) these incidents all occurred in public for all to see. Nothing was hidden or secretive about them.
The last of the incidents occurred when our Lord and Saviour raised from the dead His friend Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary. He had been dead three days when the news reached Him, but He dismissed it by saying that Lazarus was asleep and that "He was going there (
By the time He returned to
Lazarus' passage from death to life could be summed up in three definite steps; first Jesus instructed; "Take away the stone." Secondly, He ordered; "Lazarus, come out!" and thirdly, He commanded; "Take off the grave clothes and let him go." The instructions to the dead man was for him to leave his present abode the grave, to separate himself from that obscure place and come into life and the light. That instruction was given to Lazarus. He had to make the move himself to come out and be released from the clutches of death that held him captive.
His authority over death he had declared openly to Martha's hearing and to the crowd; "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." (John 11:25-26)
To have made such a powerful statement and then die publicly on a cross for all to see must have left the disciples dumbfounded and completely lost. This was the reason why after his death each went his own way to begin a new life all over again. The kingdom Jesus preached had collapsed to the ground and there was no future for the disciples and their aspirations. At least that was what they thought to be the case.
In Psalm 16 verse 10 king David had prophesied; ".because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see corruption." God, the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit would raise Jesus from the dead, putting to shame those who mocked as Jesus hung on the cross. "Those who passed by hurled insults at Him, shaking their heads and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it up in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!" (Matthew 27:40) The teachers of the law and the elders mocked Him. "He saved others, but he can't save himself." (Matthew 27:42)
We have seen how death could not hold Jesus in the grave. He had predicted His death and resurrection several times to His disciples (Matthew 17:21; 20:18-19) but there is ample reason to believe it had not registered. "I lay down my life - only to take it back again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again." (John 10:17-18)
Things begin to fall in place only after Jesus' resurrection. He had to go chasing them one after the other, to bring them back to the fold. With the exception of Judas, He could not afford for any of them to have been lost. They were all going to be taken by surprise when Mary Magdalene broke the news to them of Jesus' resurrection. ".they did not believe." (Mark 16:11) Yes, "they did not believe the women because their words seem to them like nonsense." (Luke 24:12).
You probably have seen someone die under your very eyes. How would it seem if three days after you were told from trustworthy persons that he was alive and seen in the flesh? Your first reaction to such a story would have been that they must have been out of their mind. The disciples experienced the same problem. They had seen the Master die, they were eye witnesses to the fact.
Our Lord Jesus Himself had to appear to the two on the way to Emmaus, to Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel and the sons of Zebedee and afterwards to all of them for it to sink in. How easily would you have believed?
It would take another series of miracles and signs for the disciples to believe that indeed the Lord is risen from the dead.