Last month, we saw that the Old Testament indicates the Lord Jesus Christ would rise from the dead. There is also ample testimony from His own lips for the resurrection before the event took place. This will be our consideration for this month. There are several areas under which we can look at His words regarding His resurrection.
Preparation of His disciples for it
The Lord Jesus gave very specific statements to His followers regarding not only His death, but also His resurrection: “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matt 16:21, KJV). What He “began,” He continued: “Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill Him, and the third day He shall be raised again” (Matt 17:22-23, KJV). This preparation of the disciples for the event continued as they went up to Jerusalem: “The Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, And shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him: and the third day He shall rise again” (Matt 20:18-19, KJV).
So, after He had risen, the women at the tomb were told by the angels to “remember how He spake 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 rise again.” This reminder was sufficient: “And they remembered His words” (Luke 24:6-8, KJV).
Pictures that illustrate it
The Lord gave two striking pictures that illustrate His resurrection; both of them to unbelieving Jews, who demanded a “sign” from Him.
First, in John 2, we read that, in the temple, they “said unto Him, What sign shewest Thou unto us, seeing that Thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The listeners misunderstood, thinking He was speaking of the Jerusalem temple, but John states that “He spake of the temple of His body. When therefore He was risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said” (John 2:18-22, KJV).
Later in His ministry, “certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from Thee. But He answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12:38-40, KJV).
By the signs He gave to those who opposed Him, The Lord showed that He would die, but that He would be dead for three days only, and then would rise again, and that He would be active in His own resurrection.
Power that would accomplish it
As well as indicating, both to His own and to His opponents, the fact of His resurrection, the Lord Jesus stated in no uncertain terms His ability to perform it: “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father” (John 10:17-18, KJV).
The Precautions taken to oppose it
Even the words and actions of His bitterest enemies testify to the fact that He foretold His resurrection. After His death, “the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while He was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night, and steal Him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first” (Matt 27:62-64, KJV). Clearly these wicked people were very much aware of His claim that He would rise again on the third day, and were anxious to do all they could to prevent any claim that it had taken place.
Program that would follow it
The Lord not only spoke of His resurrection, but of what would happen after it. For example, mere hours before He died, He said to His disciples, “All ye shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee” (Matt 26:31-32, KJV). Indeed, before He died, He spoke of many events, including His ascension (John 14:12), His coming again for His own (John 14:3), His return to earth in power and glory (Matt 24:30), and His judgment of people at His return (Matt 25:31-32). All of these could only take place if He had risen again from the dead; thus His resurrection is implied in all that He stated regarding what He would do in the future.
We can see the folly of any who would try to suggest that the story of the resurrection was a fabrication of the disciples, thought up by them after the Lord’s death. On the contrary, Christ foretold His resurrection, and it was an integral and essential part of what He had come to do.