Today’s selected reading continues in the first epistle of the apostle Paul in the New Testament which was written unto the saints which were at Corinth. More specifically, today’s reading begins in verses forty-eight of chapter fifteen and continues through the end of the chapter. With this last set of verses the apostle Paul concludes this discourse on the resurrection of the dead—a resurrection which began with the resurrection of Jesus who is both Christ and Lord. As you begin reading this passage of scripture you will discover that it begins—not with the resurrection of the saints of God, but rather with the resurrection of Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that this was not done without design and deliberate intent, for we cannot even have a discussion concerning the resurrection of the saints without first understanding the resurrection of Jesus who is the Christ. If we are to understand the resurrection that is available unto us as the saints of God we must understand that our resurrection is a byproduct of a resurrection which took place two thousand years ago. When you read all four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus you will find four distinct and four different accounts of the resurrection of Jesus who is the Christ. Each of the four gospels—though different in scope and focus—all point to the tremendous reality that Jesus the Christ was crucified and buried in a borrowed tomb, and His body did indeed remain in that tomb for three days, however, early on the third morning the Stone before the tomb was rolled away, the grave was opened, and death itself was turned back and defeated as Jesus emerged from the tomb victorious over death, hell and the grave.
When you read the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Corinth you will find the apostle Paul emphatically declaring unto these saints the tremendous power of the resurrection that awaits them at the last day. This resurrection was mentioned and alluded to by Martha when Jesus declared unto her that her brother would rise and would live again. There st the tomb completely overwhelmed by the absence of Jesus, completely overwhelmed at the loss of her brother, and completely overwhelmed by the grief and sorrow that filled her heart and weighed upon her soul, Martha could not even fathom—much less comprehend the thought that with Jesus present at the tomb her brother could rise again on that day. This is actually quite telling and quite revealing, for while it is true Martha believed her brother would rise again at the last day, she didn’t believe that he could rise on that particular day. In fact, I am convinced that up until that moment when Lazarus emerged from the tomb—grave clothes still on—Martha did not and could not believe that her brother would rise on that day. Imagine her complete and utter shock and dismay when her brother emerged from the tomb, was released from the grave clothes which bound him, and continued living as though death had never even taken place. IT’S ALMOST AS IF DEATH NEVER EVEN TOOK PLACE! IT’S ALMOST AS IF DEATH WASN’T EVEN PRESENT! What I absolutely love about the resurrection of the saints is how much of a tremendous blow it is to death itself, as death would seek to lay hold of men and women. How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is that even before Jesus’ own resurrection from the grave, He demonstrated the absolutely incredible reality that she had authority over death.
The more I read and consider the account of Lazarus’ resurrection the more I can’t help but consider how up until that moment Jesus had authority over death, yet He Himself had not yet triumphed over it Himself. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave Abe called Him Firth from death He AG that moment has not tasted death itself. What’s more, is that in that moment Jesus had neither confronted hell or the grave. This is actually quite astounding and remarkable when you think about and consider it, for we tend to forget that when Lazarus was raised from the tomb Jesus only demonstrated authority and power over death. Up until that moment Jesus had not yet demonstrated or manifested His own authority and power over death. With that being said, when the time did finally come for Jesus to be crucified and to die Himself, He did more than simply confront the reality and power of death. If you turn and direct your attention to the first chapter of the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ you will find His declaration that He did in fact have and hold the keys of death, hell and the grave. What’s more, is that at the end of this prophetic book we find death and even hell itself being cast into the lake of fire. Jesus’ resurrection from the grave and His victory over death, hell and the grave would be the beginning of all those who through association with His resurrection would also experience deliverance from the grip and power of death, hell and the grave. What’s more, is that Jesus’ resurrection would be a portent and a signpost that would powerfully point to and declare the ultimate defeat of death and hell itself. How absolutely incredible it is that the first to be cast unto the like of fire was the beast and the false prophet—both which would be followed by Satan and all his unholy angels. Within the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ we would also find death and hell being cast into the lake of fire where they joined the beast, the false prophet, Satan, and all his unholy angels. Jesus’ resurrection from the grave was one of the most devastating blows to he who previously had power over death, for when He emerged from the grave, He didn’t merely emerge victorious over death, but He also emerged having and holding the keys of death, hell and the grave.
TAKING THE KEYS OF YOUR TRIUMPH TO THE THRONE! TAKING THE KEYS OF YOUR TRIUMPH INTO GLORY! There is not a doubt in my mind that when Jesus returned unto the right hand of His Father which was in heaven, He did in fact bring the scars of His crucifixion with Him. I am fully and completely convinced that when Jesus returned to the right hand of His Father in heaven He bore the prints of the nails within His wrists, as well as the print from the nail within His feet. What’s more, is that when He returned to the right hand of His Father in heaven He bore with Him the print in His side where the spear had pierced. Thus, when Jesus returned to the right hand of His Father in glory, He did so bringing the scars of His suffering with Him. When Jesus returned to the right hand of His Father in heaven He bore and brought with Him the scars of His death and crucifixion with Him—scars which I am convinced He still has until this day and will have for all eternity. With that being said, I am convinced those scars are a powerful testament and testimony of His ultimate triumph and victoria over death, for the scars not only show the suffering and the struggle, but the scars also show and demonstrate the victory which was won over death itself. Those scars will for all eternity be a reminder of the suffering Jesus experienced and endured while on the cross of Calvary, and how Jesus did in fact die. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus still has the scars from His death and crucifixion upon the cross, for if you turn and direct your attention to the first chapter of the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ you will find the following words concerning Jesus who is the Christ and Lord—“Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindred of the earth shall wail because of Him” (Revelation 1:7). The words in this verse perfectly aligns with the words which John the apostle wrote in his gospel account concerning the death of Jesus the Christ. If you turn and direct your attention to the nineteenth chapter of the gospel written by John, you will find the following words—“But when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not his legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of Him shall not be broken. And again, another Scripture saith, They shall look on Him whom they pierced” (John 19:33-37).
These words—both those which are recorded in the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, as well as those which are written in the gospel of John—are both New Testament references to an Old Testament Messianic prophecy that is found in the prophetic book of Zechariah. If you journey back to the Old Testament prophetic book of Zechariah and read the tenth verse you will find the following words written as a precursor and prophetic reference to the coming Messiah—“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourners for His only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10). It is these words which perfectly point to the powerful reality that men and women from every kindred, every language, every nation, every tribe, every race shall in fact look upon Him who was pierced. The soldier who pierced the side of Jesus was the first to look upon Him who had been pierced, for after He pierced Jesus’ side with the spear, and after the blood and water flowed, the soldier examined the very place he had pierced the Messiah. There is further confirmation of those looking upon Him who had been pierced in both the New Testament gospel of Luke, as well as in the New Testament gospel of John. In the twenty-fourth and final chapter of the New Testament book of Luke you will find the following words written concerning Jesus after His resurrection—“And as they thus spake, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when He had thus spoken, He shewed them His hands and His feet” (Luke 24:36-40).
There is further confirmation concerning and regarding looking upon the One who had been pierced when you come to the twentieth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John—particularly and specifically as it pertains to Thomas who was also called Didymus. If you begin reading with and from the nineteenth verse of the twentieth chapter of John’s gospel you will find the following words written concerning certain events which took place after the resurrection of Jesus—“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when He had so said, He shewed unto them His hands and His side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto Him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them,Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe. And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believered” (John 20:19-29).
It is clear from each of these references that when Jesus emerged from the grave after having been raised from death to life—though He left the grave clothes still within the grave—He carried with Him the scars of His suffering. Both the reference within the gospel of Luke, as well as the reference within the gospel of John point to the undeniable reality that when Jesus emerged from the tomb and rose victorious over death, He did not rise absent the scars. RISING WITH SCARS STILL IN PLACE! I am convinced there are countless men and women who think and believe that just because they rise, they are supposed to rise absent the scars of their suffering, and absent the scars of their struggle. I am completely and utterly convinced that this simply isn’t the case, for when Jesus rose from the dead and emerged from the grave, He left the grave clothes behind, but carried the scars with Him. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that Jesus could have very easily chosen to emerge from the tomb and rise from death to life without the scars in His hands, without the scars in His feet, and without the scars in His side, yet He deliberately and intentionally chose to rise with those scars. RISING WITH SCARS! RISING WITH YOUR SCARS! When Jesus emerged from the grave He chose to retain the scars of His suffering, and what’s more than this, is that it would appear that on two separate occasions Jesus showed those scars unto His disciples. There was the occasion when Jesus showed the scars of His suffering unto His disciples without Thomas being present, and there was another instance when Jesus showed the scars of His suffering unto Thomas in order that he might not be doubtful and faithless. It is true that Jesus showed and revealed the scars of His suffering during and within those forty days after His resurrection, but I am convinced that when He ascended and returned to the right hand of His Father in heaven, He showed those scars to the Father who was seated upon the throne. Once returned and once ascended to the right hand of His Father in heaven Jesus carried with Him the scars of His suffering—the scars of His suffering upon the earth and not in heaven. What’s more, is that you might even get the sense that Jesus showed the scars unto the angels in heaven, along with the cherubim and seraphim, for the scars of His suffering were a powerful testament and testimony of the suffering He endured and experienced while upon the earth.
With all of this being said concerning the scars which Jesus chose to retain and carry with Him unto the right hand of His Father in glory, there is also a second reality that must be considered. It is true that Jesus carried with Him the scars of His suffering unto the right hand of His Father in heaven, but it is also true that He carried with Him the keys of His triumph unto the right hand of His Father in heaven. If you consider and examine Jesus’ ascension and return unto the right hand of His Father in heaven you will not only recognize and understand that Jesus did in fact bring the scars and print of the nails of His suffering into glory, but He also brought with Him the keys of His triumph unto glory as well. It wasn’t enough for Jesus to bring the scars of His suffering unto the right hand of His Father who was in heaven, for Scripture records how Jesus also brought the keys of His triumph unto the right hand of His Father in heaven. Consider if you will the words which the apostle John records for us within the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ:
“I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto THyatria, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks on like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and His Harris were white like would, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that lieveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches” (Revelation 1:9-20).
When you read the first chapter of the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and you read of John’s encounter with Jesus, you will find that John witnessed and experienced the risen and ascended, the glorified Jesus who is the Christ and Lord. John’s encounter with Jesus on the isle of Patmos was an encounter with Jesus after He had ascended to the right hand of His Father who was in heaven. What I absolutely love about the first chapter of the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ is that when Jesus who is both Christ and Lord appeared unto John the apostle on the isle of Patmos, He revealed Himself from His place in glory at the right hand of His Father in heaven. What I find absolutely remarkable when reading the first chapter of the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ is Jesus’ declaration unto John concerning Himself, and specifically, how He was was He who liveth and was dead, and behold, He was alive for evermore. What’s more, is that Jesus didn’t merely declare that He was dead and is now alive for evermore, but Jesus also declared that He had and held the keys of hell and of death. Please don’t miss the significance and importance of these words, for they reveal something absolutely incredible—namely, that Jesus brought the keys of His triumph into heaven, into glory, and unto the right hand of His Father who was in heaven. As surely as Jesus brought the scars of His suffering unto the right hand of His Father in heaven, Jesus also brought the keys of His triumph unto that very same place. It is absolutely imperative that we recognize this, for there are many of us who get so caught up in and with the scars of our suffering that we fail to and even neglect to recognize and understand the keys of our triumph which come once suffering has been given its proper place within our lives. Moreover, I would dare say there are those among us who would seek to lay hold of the keys of their triumph without ever even experiencing the scars of their suffering. In other words, there can be no keys without and apart from scars, and there can be no triumph without and apart from suffering. It is true that Jesus promised unto Peter—“Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I saw also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”—however, we dare not expect to lay hold of keys without and apart from scars.
WOULD YOU DARE LAY HOLD OF KEYS ABSENT SCARS? WOULD YOU DARE LAY HOLD OF TRIUMPH WITHOUT AND APART FROM SUFFERING? It is worth noting and making mention of that the only way Jesus could in fact lay hold of the keys of death and hell which He spoke of in the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ was to confront death and hell for Himself. It was absolutely impossible for Jesus to lay hold of the keys of death and hell without and apart from engaging death and hell during those three days after He was crucified at Calvary. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus would not and could not lay hold of those keys of death and hell until and unless He was willing to face death Himself, and even confront hell itself. It is true that while He walked upon the earth those three and a half years Jesus confronted death in the lives of others, as He powerfully demonstrated authority over death by raising certain individual to life once more. Of course the most noted and notable resurrection from death to life was Lazarus when Jesus showed up at and outside the tomb where Lazarus’ body had been laid for four days. There at the tomb with the stone rolled away Jesus confronted death itself as He called Lazarus forth—not only from the grave itself, but also from death as well. When Jesus called Lazarus forth from the grave and from the tomb, He did in fact demonstrate authority over death, however, at that moment He hadn’t yet laid hold of the keys of death and hell. It wasn’t until Jesus Himself tasted death and was buried in the tomb for three days that He confronted and engaged death and hell head on. What’s worth noting is that when Jesus emerged from the grave on the third day after the angel had rolled away the stone, where were the keys? When Jesus emerged from the tomb and was raised from death to life, He emerged with flesh and blood, yet when HE emerged, He did so having triumphed over death and hell, and having destroyed him who previously had the power of death. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote concerning Jesus that it was through His death He destroyed the power of him who previously had the power of death, that is, the devil. When Jesus emerged from the tomb and when He emerged from the grave, He emerged—not only having triumphed over death, hell and the grave, but He also emerged having laid hold of the keys of death and hell, which He confiscated from the one who previously had hold on those keys.
I can’t help but feel it necessary at this moment to include the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle which was written unto the Corinthian congregation, for it is those words that help wonderfully and powerfully demonstrate this reality all the more. “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, IN a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. Fore this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immorality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, moveable, always abounding in the world of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:50-58). What we read in this particular passage of Scripture is actually astounding, for the words contained within this passage of Scripture were seen before. This was not the first time such references and declarations were made, for if you journey back to the Old Testament you will find the first appearance of these words. In the eighth verse of the twenty-fifth chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah we find the following words—“He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 25:8). If you turn and direct your attention to the thirteenth chapter of the prophetic book of Hosea you will find the following words spoken by the prophet of the Lord—“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes” (Hosea 13:14).
What I absolutely love about each of these references is that even before the Messiah would come, it’s as if the Lord and heaven itself were taunting death and the grave. I cannot help but get the powerful sense when reading the words of Hosea and Isaiah that through His servants the prophets, the Lord was taunting and warning death of a time that would come when death would lose its sting and when death would be swallowed up in victory. I absolutely love that even before the Messiah would step foot upon the earth all of heaven was already preparing for the ultimate triumph over death, the ultimate triumph over hell, and the ultimate triumph over the grave. If you read the Old Testament you will find a specific reference concerning the Messiah and how the Lord would not allow His body to remain in the depths of the earth, or within the depths of hell. The Lord of hosts would not allow Jesus to remain in hell itself, but would bring Him forth from the midst of hell having completely and totally triumphed over it. We dare not miss the tremendous significance and power of this reality, for when Jesus ascended to the right hand of His Father in heaven, He ascended bearing the scars of His suffering and carrying the keys of His triumph. How absolutely wonderful it is that in the same hands which bore the scars of His suffering Jesus carried the keys of death and hell unto the right hand of His Father which was in heaven. When Jesus returned to His Father who was in heaven, He did so not only bearing and presenting the scars of His suffering, but He also did so carrying and presenting the keys of His triumph before and unto His Father. This is actually quite powerful when you consider it, for not only did Jesus strip the devil of the keys of death and hell, but Jesus also brought those keys to the right hand of the Father where they could never again be accessed by the devil. In the twelfth chapter of the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ we find the devil and all his angels being cast forth from heaven and down to the earth, thus signifying that they no longer had access to where they once wreaked havoc and made war. Building upon that same reality of the devil no longer having access I can’t help ;but find tremendous encouragement in Jesus’ statement to John on the isle of Patmos concerning His having the keys of death and hell, for there was absolutely no way for those keys to ever be touched—much less obtained and laid hold of by the devil. When Jesus destroyed him who had the power of death, he laid hold of the keys to death and hell which he once had possession of, and I would dare state that Jesus emphatically and boldly declared unto the devil that he would never again hold they keys of death and hell, nor would he ever have any authority over death and hell. The keys were now in the hands of He who was dead and is now alive, and those keys were found at the right hand of the Father who is in heaven. Hallelujah for the scars of His suffering, and for the keys of His triumph, for it is within the scars of His suffering and the keys of His triumph that we can not only experience a baptism with Him in death, but also a newness as we are quickened by the Spirit and ultimately resurrected from death to life by the Spirit of Almighty God.