CHAPTER XXXI

THE RESURRECTION

ACCORDING TO THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW
(Matthew 28:1-15)


28 Late on the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the grave. 2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended out of heaven, and came, and rolled away the stone, and sat upon it. 3 His appearance was as lightning; and his clothing, white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became as dead men. 5 The angel replied and said to the women, Stop fearing, for I know that you are seeking Jesus, who has been crucified. 6 He is not here, for He has been raised, just as He said. Come; see the place where He was lying; 7 and go quickly; and tell His disciples that He has been raised from the dead and, behold, He goes before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Lo, I have told you. 8 Then, going quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, they ran to announce the news to His disciples. 9 And, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail! Then they came and took hold of His feet and worshipped Him. 10 At that time Jesus said to them, Stop fearing. Go tell My brethren that they go away into Galilee, and there they will see Me.

11 Now while they were going, behold, certain of the guard went into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had occurred. 12 And while they were gathered together with the elders, they held a conference and gave large sums of money to the soldiers, 13 saying, Say that His disciples during the night came and stole Him while we were sleeping. 14 And if this matter is reported to the governor, we shall persuade him and shall relieve you of the responsibility. 15. Then they took the silver and did as they were instructed, and this story has been circulated among the Jews until the present day.

I. RESURRECTION FORETOLD IN OLD TESTAMENT

BURIED deep in the human heart is the dominating hope of a life beyond this one. This anticipation is found among all peoples, regardless of their state and condition. If there is no existence beyond this life, man's sojourn here is a dismal failure. But, praise God, there is a hope set forth in the Scriptures of truth.

In Psalm 16:8-11, King David foresaw the Resurrection of the Messiah:

  1. I have set Jehovah always before me:
    Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

  2. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth:
    My flesh also shall dwell in safety.

  3. For thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol;
    Neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption.

  4. Thou wilt show me the path of life:
    In thy presence is fulness of joy;
    In thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 22:1-21 foreshadows the suffering Redeemer of humanity pouring out His life for the salvation of mankind. With His expiring breath He prays, "Save me from the lion's mouth"; then His faith rises to sublime heights, and He exclaims, "Yea, from the horns of the wild-oxen thou hast answered me." With these words, He expires. They sound a note of triumph and of victory. He sees that He will come forth from the grave and will be triumphant over death.

In the second part of this great drama, verses 22-31, the sufferer, who in the first part passes out of this life, comes back in full vigor and power, becoming master of the world situation. In this Psalm is a prediction that the Messiah will triumph over death and will come forth, bringing life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Isaiah likewise foresaw the Resurrection of the executed Messiah:

10 Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see
his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by the knowledge of himself shall my righteous servant justify many; and he shall bear their iniquities (Isa. 53:10,11).

After death He rises and prolongs His days, forever and ever. Thus is expressed the hope of eternal existence of the Messiah after death.

II. PARALLEL ACCOUNTS OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE CRUCIFIED MESSIAH

In the text quoted above, Matthew 28:1-15, is a straightforward statement—simple, yet sublime—of the Resurrection of the Messiah on the first day of the week. Parallel accounts are found in Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12, and in John 20:1-10.

In I Corinthians 15:1-8 the Apostle Paul gives an account of a number of appearances of the risen Christ to competent, faithful, loyal witnesses who have passed on their testimony regarding the Resurrection of the Messiah. This chapter is a classic on the theme of life after death and immortal glory. It is a most cogent discussion of the various aspects of the Resurrection and of the Lord's return for His saints, when they will be raptured out of the world and taken instantly into glory with Himself.

III. THE TESTIMONY OF EYEWITNESSES

1 That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we beheld, and our hands handled, concerning the Word of life 2 (and the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare unto you the life, the eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us); 3 that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also, that ye also may have fellowship with us: yea, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ: 4 and these things we write, that our joy may be made full (I John 1:1-4).

This statement of the Apostle John is a scientific one. Speaking not only for himself, but also for all the apostolic company who had experiences like his own, he states that the apostles who saw Jesus after His Resurrection had the testimony of three of their physical senses: namely, the testimony of their ears, their hearing; the testimony of their eyes, their seeing; and the testimony of their sense of touch, their handling the Word of life, the risen Messiah. During the earthly personal life of the Lord Jesus, the apostles who were associated with Him heard Him in private conversation and in public discourse. Hence they were familiar with His voice and style of speech and delivery. They saw Him under all circumstances with their own eyes; and, being associated with Him so very closely, they at various times touched His body. After His Resurrection they heard with their own ears His familiar voice. They could not be deceived in this way. They likewise saw with their own eyes and recognized that the one who appeared unto them was the very one with whom they had been intimately associated for three and a fraction years. To prove that He was not a phantom, or that what they were experiencing was not something subjective, they handled His body and thus knew that He was not a phantom, but that He himself, who had gone down into death, had come back to life, bringing life and immortality to light through the gospel.

The apostles, therefore, with absolute and unshakable confidence gave forth their testimony concerning the Resurrection of Jesus.

IV. LIFE AND IMMORTALITY NOW DEMONSTRATED

Since the prophets had foretold the Resurrection of the Messiah, and since He had come and had fulfilled the ministry as preannounced by the prophets—had been slain, buried, and raised from the dead—the Apostle Paul in triumph wrote to the church at Rome:

1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, 2 which he promised afore through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead; even Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 1:1-4).

According to Paul's testimony, Jesus was demonstrated to be the Son of God with power according to the Holy Spirit by the Resurrection from the Dead. Many prophets had performed miracles in various realms. Some had even raised people from the dead; they, however, had died and those whom they had raised had died again. But Jesus of Nazareth was once put to death in the flesh; was made alive in the spirit; triumphed over the powers of evil; came forth from the dead a victor over death, Sheol, and the grave; and was declared by His Resurrection to be the Son of God.

In perfect alignment with this Scripture is Paul's statement in II Timothy 1:8-11:

Be not ashamed therefore of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but suffer hardship with the gospel according to the power of God; 9 who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal, 10 but hath now been manifested by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 whereunto I was appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher.

Since the Messiah has not yet triumphed over the powers of the evil one in the full sense of the various prophecies, the promise that the Psalmist held out will yet be realized fully for those who believe.

For Jehovah is righteous; he loveth righteousness:
The upright shall behold his face (Ps. 11:7).

As for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with
beholding thy form (Ps. 17:15).

Those who believe in Jesus as the Son of God and Saviour of the world can look forward with absolute confidence and perfect assurance to the life of bliss and happiness forever and ever in association with God and with their loved ones who have died in Christ. They will see Him in His partial glory in His Millennial Kingdom; then in the eternal order, they will behold Him in His full glory (Revelation, chapters 21 and 22).