Today’s selected reading continues in the first epistle of the apostle Paul in the New Testament unto the saints which were at Corinth. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses twelve through twenty-two of the fifteenth chapter. When you come to the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle of the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian congregation you will find that the apostle Paul transitions within the epistle to now speaking of resurrection. Within the first eleven verses of the chapter the apostle Paul sets forth the gospel which he preached unto the Corinthians—ultimately a gospel he preached unto all the churches and the Gentiles—namely, that Jesus Christ was crucified upon the cross, that He was buried in the tomb for three days, that He was raised and resurrected from the grave, and was quickened to life by the Spirit of Almighty God. Immediately after setting forth the gospel he preached unto the churches and congregations the apostle Paul then recounts events which took place immediately following Christ’s resurrection from the dead—namely and specifically, His appearing unto a great many within Judaea. The apostle Paul sets forth how after Jesus Christ was raised from death to life he was seen of Cephas or Peter. The apostle Paul then sets forth how Jesus was seen by the other remaining disciples before being seen by upwards of five hundred. The apostle Paul also sets forth that upon His resurrection, Jesus was seen by James and the other disciples before finally being seen by one who was untimely born—that is, the apostle Paul himself.
RESURRECTION AND REVELATION! I have to admit that when I read this particular passage of scripture I am absolutely and totally gripped by the tremendous reality that not only was Jesus raised from death to life and resurrected from the grave, but He also appeared unto the eleven disciples, and upwards to an additional five hundred souls. This is absolutely and incredibly powerful and worth noting and paying attention to for it must be noted that Jesus didn’t immediately ascend to the right hand of His Father who was in heaven. I find great comfort and encouragement in the fact that immediately after Jesus was raised from the grave and brought forth to life He revealed Himself unto His disciples and a number of others. It’s one thing to be one of the eleven disciples who walked with Jesus to experience this revelation after resurrection, but it’s something else altogether to be one of the five hundred whom Jesus appeared to after and upon His resurrection. Imagine being one of those five hundred who witnessed and experienced the revelation and appearing of the resurrected Christ. I am completely and utterly convinced that there is a powerful prophetic and spiritual application that is found in this particular reality, and that is there cannot be resurrection without and apart from revelation. As surely Abe we certainly as there could not be resurrection without and apart from ascension, there would and could not be resurrection without and apart from revelation. In fact, I would dare say there is something about revelation after resurrection that carries with it tremendous weight and significance.
RESURRECTION DEMANDS REVELATION! Consider the fact that if Jesus was raised from death to life and brought forth from the tomb and ascended unto the right hand of His Father in heaven there would and could have been a lot of unanswered questions. It is true that when you read the gospel of John you discover that Jesus promised His disciples He would not leave them comfort less, but would send them the Comforter who would be with them for ever. When Jesus returned to the right hand of His Father in heaven He would send the promise of Father—namely, the Spirit of truth who would guide them in all truth. With that being said, Jesus could not merely be raised from death to life and emerge from the grave only to return to the right hand of His Father in heaven. Had Jesus been raised from death to life, and even brought forth from the tomb, and immediately ascended to His Father in heaven, there would have certainly been an empty tomb, but there wouldn’t have been any hope or consolation—either in His death, or not His resurrection. Sure there would have been an empty tomb and an empty grave with grave clothes within it, but there would have been no Jesus. This leads me to believe that the revelation after and upon the resurrection was just as important and just as powerful as the resurrection itself. I believe and am convinced that the revelation of Jesus Christ carried with it just as much weight and significance as the resurrection itself, for revelation was the transition between resurrection and ascension.
REVELATION TRANSITIONS FROM RESURRECTION TO ASCENSION! I would dare say that Jesus could not have been raised from death to life and resurrected from the tomb and immediately ascended to the right hand of His Father in heaven, for that wasn’t part of the divine plan of God at all. After reading this passage of scripture I am convinced that the revelation and appearing of Jesus unto the el Ben disciples, as well as to Howard or five hundred others carried with it tremendous weight and significance, for it was the revelation after resurrection that not only provided hope and encouragement, but it also answered a lot of the questions the disciples and many others had after Jesus’ death and burial in the tomb. There were a lot of questions, doubts and fears that emerged after Jesus was crucified and buried in the tomb, yet all those questions, all those doubts, all those fears were answered and addressed through the revelation and appearing of Jesus the Christ. It wasn’t enough for Jesus to be raised from death to life, but He needed to reveal Himself unto His disciples and many others after being raised from death to life to powerfully demonstrate that there was indeed and was in fact hope. In all reality, this is the crux of what the apostle Paul was writing unto the Corinthian congregation in verses twelve through twenty-two, for its with these words the apostle Paul demonstrates and reveals the powerful truth behind the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Within these eleven verses the apostle Paul clearly sets forth the tremendous importance and significance of the resurrection of Christ from the grave and from death to life, for it is His resurrection that is what stands as the ultimate source of hope—not only in this life, but also in the life which is to come. It’s actually quite amazing that Christ’s death on the cross is merely the entry way—the door and the gate way if you will—into a much greater reality that surrounds the power of the resurrection, for not only does Christ’s resurrection from the grave demonstrate the power of God, but it also provides us with a tremendous amount of hope for this life and the next.
I am convinced that it is absolutely necessary to read and consider these eleven verses, for these eleven verses have the ability to speak for themselves and are in need of no commentary. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian congregation beginning with the twelfth verse and continuing through to the twenty-second verse: “Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ: whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:12-22).
It is with these words the apostle Paul seeks to correct an erroneous and preposterous teaching that had begun swirling around within this congregation—namely, that there was no resurrection of the dead. The entire reason and the entire purpose for this particular chapter within the first epistle unto the Corinthian congregation is to present unto the congregation the tremendous power that surrounds the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the true source of our hope and encouragement. There were actually those within the Corinthian congregation who thought and believed within themselves that there was no resurrection, which couldn’t have been further from the truth which the apostle Paul preached—not only unto the Corinthian congregation, but also among all the churches within Asia, and among the Gentiles. It’s worth noting that if there was in fact no resurrection of the dead, then the apostle Paul powerfully demonstrates that Jesus be no raised from the dead. The entire reason and purpose for this particular passage within Scripture is to demonstrate unto the Corinthian congregation the tremendous hope that surrounds the resurrection from the dead—namely, a hope that is not merely rooted and grounded in this life, but also one that is rooted and ground in the life which is to come. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this particular passage concerning the hope which is in this life alone versus hope which exists in the life to come—“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). It is with these words the apostle Paul wonderfully demonstrates the tremendous reality that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead isn’t merely centered upon hope that surrounds this life, but which also surrounds the life to come. If Jesus had not been raised from death to life than the preaching of the apostle Paul was in vain, and so also is our faith and our trust and belief in the true and living God. The apostle Paul wrote the words which are found in this particular passage of Scripture in order to reveal unto the Corinthians the tremendous power that surrounds resurrection—namely, that it speaks of hope that exists beyond this life.
The more I consider that which is found within this passage of Scripture the more I can’t help but think about and consider the various resurrections which are found within the New Testament. If you read the New Testament you will find that there were essentially two major resurrections which took place within the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. In the eleventh chapter of John’s gospel we find the account of the resurrection of Lazarus from the grace, while in each of the four gospels we find the account of the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. There are other instances when you read of how Jesus raised certain individuals from death to life which included a young child whom He raised from death to life and presented unto her parents. It was this young child whom Jesus found Himself alone with His three disciples and the parents of the child. What’s more is that when you read of the death of Jesus and the great earthquake that ensued after He declared “It is finished,” you will find that the graves of countless were opened, and those who were once dead would once more walk among the living. Pause for a moment and consider that reality—the reality that Jesus’ death would lead to the graves of a number of men and women being opened, and such individuals once more walking among the living. Imagine being a friend or family member of one of those whose grave had been opened, and that individual who you thought was dead walked in the front door of your home. ENTERTAINING THOSE WHO WERE ONCE DEAD! This concept of entertaining the resurrected ones is quite astounding and remarkable—especially when you consider it in light of the life of Lazarus and his death and burial within the tomb. If you turn and direct your attention to the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the gospel according to John you will find the account of Lazarus, and not only that he died, but also that he was raised from death to life and brought forth from the tomb in which he had been laid. I am wonderfully convinced that it is absolutely necessary that we read and examine the account of Lazarus’ death and resurrection in direct light of Jesus’ own resurrection from the grave. Consider if you will the account of Lazarus’ death and resurrection as the apostle John records and recounts it:
“Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Marth. (It is was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto hi, saying, Lord, behold, He whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, He said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus, When He had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where He was. Then after that saith He to His disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. His disciples say unto Him, Mastesr, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. These things said He: and after that He saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, He shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of His death: but they thought that He had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; Nevertheless let us go unto him. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. Then when Jesus came, He found that He had lain in the grave four days already. Now Bethany was night unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: and many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believe in m me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had so said, she went her way and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto Him. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore say her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in Himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for He hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that you hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was found about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:1-44).
IT’s worth noting concerning the account of Lazarus that his story doesn’t end in or with the eleventh chapter of John’s gospel. In fact, if you read the first eight verses of the eighth chapter of the twelfth chapter of John’s gospel you will find additional commentary concerning Lazarus—not surrounding and regarding Lazarus prior to his death and resurrection, but upon and after his death and resurrection. Consider if you will the account of Lazarus after Jesus had called him forth from the grave, called for his grave clothes to be loosed, and called for him to be set free and let go. Beginning with the first verse of the twelfth chapter we read and find the following words concerning Lazarus after he had been raised from death to life—“Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which would betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor: but because he was. Thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus” (John 12:1-11).
WHERE LAZARUS WAS WHICH HAD BEEN DEAD! WHOM HE RAISED FROM THE DEAD! BUT LAZARUS WAS ONE OF THEM THAT SAT AT THE TABLE WITH HIM! WHOM HE HAD RAISED FROM THE DEAD! THAT BY REASON OF HIM MANY OF THE JEWS WENT AWAY, AND BELIEVED ON JESUS! I find it absolutely incredible and amazing that the story and account of Lazarus didn’t end with his death, but rather continued with his being raised from death to life as Jesus not only called him forth out of the grave, but also called for his grave clothes to be removed. What’s more, is that the story of Lazarus doesn’t end with his resurrection from the dead and his grave clothes being loosed, but with him sitting at the table with Jesus in the house of Mary and Martha after they had prepared for Jesus a supper. What a powerful picture it is for Lazarus to be sitting at the table with the very One who had called for the stone before his tomb to be rolled away and removed, not only the One who had called Lazarus to come forth from the tomb, but also the One who had called for Lazarus’ grave clothes to be loosed from upon his physical body, and his release and being let go. What an absolutely incredible picture it is to consider Lazarus not only being raised from death to life, but also walking among the living once more, and essentially having his own revelation and manifestation after that resurrection. What an absolutely incredible picture it is to not only consider Lazarus emerging from the grave bound in grave clothes and those grave clothes being removed, but also Lazarus sitting at the same table with Jesus who had raised him from death to life. Lazarus’ story didn’t end with his being raised from death to life, but it continued after his resurrection, for we find him sitting at the table in the house of his two sisters eating supper with the One who had raised Him froth death to life.
With the account Lazarus’ resurrection in view it is now necessary to turn and direct our attention to the various accounts of the resurrection of Jesus. Within the four gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry we find each gospel author providing their own account and telling of the resurrection of Jesus. In the twenty-eighth chapter of the gospel of Matthew, beginning with the first verse of the chapter we find the following account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ: “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, cane Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his reinvent white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold. Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Hom. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me” (Matthew 28:1-10).
When you come to the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel according to Mark you will find the following account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead—“And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought Sawyer spices, that they might come and anoint Him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came into sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves. Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothes in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them. Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He birth before you unto Galilee: there shall ye see Him, as He said unto you. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said there any thing to any man; for they were afraid” (Mark 16:1-8).
When you come to the twenty-fourth chapter of Luke’s gospel you will find the beloved physician also providing an account of the resurrection of Jesus. Beginning with the first verse of the twenty-fourth chapter we find the following words regarding Jesus’ resurrection: “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them shining in garments: and as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but He is risen: remember how He Diane unto you when He was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day ride again. And they remembered His words, and returned from the sepulchre and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle takes, and they believed them not. Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stopping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass” (Luke 24:1-12).
It was necessary to include both the accounts of Lazarus’ resurrection, as well as that of Jesus’ resurrection, for contained within the revelation of both is a powerful truth that can be gleaned and learned from them. When considering the resurrection of both Lazarus and Jesus who is the Christ, one would expect Jesus to have been resurrected from the grave first, and then Lazarus’ resurrection to have followed. It’s actually quite interesting to consider the similarities between both Lazarus’ resurrection as well as Jesus’ resurrection, for both men were placed within a tomb with a stone rolled before the entrance of the tomb. If you consider both men and their resurrection you will find that they were both buried in grave clothes which covered their entire bodies. When considering both resurrections you will find that in the case of the resurrection of both men—not only was the stone before the entrance of the tomb rolled away, but the grave clothes of both men were removed. As it comes to Jesus’ grave clothes they remained in the tomb after His resurrection, while concerning Lazarus’ resurrection we find him emerging from the tomb with his grave clothes still on. I have to admit that I absolutely love that Lazarus’ resurrection took place before that of Jesus’ for it was the stone in front of Lazarus’ tomb that was removed and rolled away before the stone which was before the tomb of Jesus. I love how Lazarus’ resurrection took place before Jesus’ resurrection for it was Lazarus’ grave clothes which would be removed before Jesus’ grave clothes would be left and would remain within the tomb. Before Jesus would emerge from the tomb in which He had been laid, Lazarus would emerge from the tomb in which he was laid. How absolutely incredible it is to consider this reality, for it emphasizes the importance of our resurrection from the dead—both physical death itself, as well as spiritual death. When Jesus was raised from death to life He didn’t rise in order that He might be the only one to experience resurrection. When Jesus was raised from death to life He was raised to life to help demonstrate the tremendous power that surrounds our own resurrection which we have been called to experience. Lazarus’ resurrection from the grave allows us to encounter the absolutely wonderful reality that the stone that lies before the tomb in which we have been placed can in fact be rolled away and remove. Lazarus’ resurrection from the grave allows us to encounter the reality that we can in fact emerge from the tombs in which we have been placed, and that Jesus who is Christ holds absolutely authority over death itself. Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead reveals and demonstrates the tremendous reality that our grave clothes can and must be removed and that grave clothes cannot and should not be worn in the realm of the living. The fact that Lazarus’ resurrection occurred prior to Jesus’ resurrection does in no way diminish or take away from Jesus’ resurrection but rather prove the tremendous importance in the stone which is in front of our tomb being rolled away, the grave clothes in which we were placed be removed, and our own emergence from the tomb in which we are placed. There is hope—not only in this life, but also in the next—and the account of Lazarus’ resurrection demonstrates how absolutely critical and crucial our resurrection is. Oh that we would embrace the absolutely wonderful truth regarding our resurrection—not only the spiritual resurrection that is manifested while we are still in the land of the living, but also our physical resurrection from the dead on that day when the trumpet shall sound and Jesus who is Christ descends from heaven with a shout.