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Hope and the Resurrection (Luke 24)

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Introduction

Providentially, our study of “Hope” in the Bible has converged with the observance of Resurrection Sunday this morning. And so it is that I chose the topic for this message: “Hope and the Resurrection.” My goal in this lesson is not to put forward all the arguments normally used to prove that the resurrection of our Lord is a historical fact. The Bible is very clear on this point, and we have all heard a number of sermons with this emphasis, and rightly so.

My goal in this lesson is to demonstrate the prominence of resurrection faith throughout the entire Bible and to draw attention to the way in which this hope impacted the attitudes and actions of people of faith. At the conclusion of this lesson, it is my intention to approach hope from a somewhat different perspective, and then to suggest how a resurrection hope should change our lives, as it did those in the Bible.

Resurrection Hope in the Bible

Resurrection Hope in the Historical Old Testament Books

There are many examples of resurrection hope in the historical books of the Old Testament, but allow me to call your attention to just a few. Abraham provides us with two wonderful examples of resurrection hope. The first example is found in relation to God’s promise that Abram and Sarai would have a child through whom God’s covenant promises would be fulfilled.

1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." 2 But Abram said, "O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" 3 And Abram said, "Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir." 4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: "This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir." 5 And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:1-6, ESV).

16 For this reason it is by faith so that it may be by grace, with the result that the promise may be certain to all the descendants – not only to those who are under the law, but also to those who have the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”). He is our father in the presence of God whom he believed – the God who makes the dead alive and summons the things that do not yet exist as though they already do. 18 Against hope Abraham believed in hope with the result that he became the father of many nations according to the pronouncement, “so will your descendants be.” 19 Without being weak in faith, he considered his own body as dead (because he was about one hundred years old) and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver in unbelief about the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that what God promised he was also able to do. 22 So indeed it was credited to Abraham as righteousness. 23 But the statement it was credited to him was not written only for Abraham’s sake, 24 but also for our sake, to whom it will be credited, those who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was given over because of our transgressions and was raised for the sake of our justification (Romans 4:16-25).2

There is much that could be said here, but suffice it to say that Paul speaks of Abraham’s faith as resurrection faith, and he sees it as the same substance as the Christian’s resurrection hope, based on the resurrection of our Lord Jesus.

The same can be said for Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac. The full account is found in Genesis 22, but I am most interested in the interpretation of that text by the author of the Book of Hebrews:

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. He had received the promises, yet he was ready to offer up his only son. 18 God had told him, “Through Isaac descendants will carry on your name,” 19 and he reasoned that God could even raise him from the dead, and in a sense he received him back from there (Hebrews 11:17-19).

Abraham reasoned by faith, which resulted in resurrection hope. He knew that God’s covenant promises were to be fulfilled through Isaac. Ishmael (the only other possible son) had already been sent away. I believe that Abraham had resurrection hope, based upon sound reasoning. God had promised to bless Abraham through Isaac. God had promised the birth of Isaac when Abram and Sarai were “as good as dead” so far as bearing children. If God could give life to the dead by giving them a son, then God could raise Isaac from the dead in order to fulfill His promises. It was his resurrection hope that caused Abraham to be willing to sacrifice his son.

Joseph likewise revealed his resurrection hope when he instructed his sons to carry his bones back to the Promised Land:

By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, mentioned the exodus of the sons of Israel and gave instructions about his burial (Hebrews 11:22).

Likewise, Moses exhibited resurrection hope when he chose to forego the temporary, earthly, privileges of being called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter in order to enjoy the eternal joys of being a son of God:

24 By faith, when he grew up, Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be ill-treated with the people of God than to enjoy sin’s fleeting pleasure. 26 He regarded abuse suffered for Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for his eyes were fixed on the reward (Hebrews 11:24-26).

David had resurrection hope, as we can see from his words in 2 Samuel 12:

19 When David saw that his servants were whispering to one another, he realized that the child was dead. So David asked his servants, “Is the child dead?” They replied, “Yes, he’s dead.” 20 So David got up from the ground, bathed, put on oil, and changed his clothes. He went to the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then, when he entered his palace, he requested that food be brought to him, and he ate. 21 His servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? While the child was still alive, you fasted and wept. Once the child was dead you got up and ate food!” 22 He replied, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept because I thought, ‘Perhaps the Lord will show pity and the child will live. 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Am I able to bring him back? I will go to him, but he cannot return to me!’” (2 Samuel 12:19-23, emphasis mine)

In the midst of a chapter that is filled with the obituaries of many of the descendants of Adam and Eve, we find this one exception regarding Enoch, which is clarified by the account of the miraculous entrance of Elijah into heaven:

Enoch walked with God, and then he disappeared because God took him away (Genesis 5:24).

11 As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a fiery chariot pulled by fiery horses appeared. They went between Elijah and Elisha, and Elijah went up to heaven in a windstorm. 12 While Elisha was watching, he was crying out, “My father, my father! The chariot and horsemen of Israel!” Then he could no longer see him. He grabbed his clothes and tore them in two (2 Kings 2:11-12).

It is the writer to the Hebrews who sums up the hope of resurrection that characterized not just those whom I have mentioned, but every Old Testament saint:

13 These all died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them and acknowledged that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth. 14 For those who speak in such a way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 In fact, if they had been thinking of the land that they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they aspire to a better land, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them (Hebrews 11:13-16).

Resurrection Hope in the Wisdom Books of the Bible

In the midst of his earthly suffering, Job did not lose sight of his heavenly (resurrection) hope:

25 As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that [at] the last he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God, 27 whom I will see for myself, and whom my own eyes will behold, and not another. My heart grows faint within me (Job 19:23-27).

David’s hope of resurrection has already been pointed out in 2 Samuel 12, but it is also clearly stated in Psalm 16:

8 I constantly trust in the Lord;

because he is at my right hand, I will not be upended.

9 So my heart rejoices and I am happy;

My life is safe.

10 You will not abandon me to Sheol;

you will not allow your faithful follower to see the Pit.

11 You lead me in the path of life;

I experience absolute joy in your presence;

you always give me sheer delight (Psalm 16:7-11).

In his sermon at Pentecost,3 Peter declared that these words were prophetic, speaking of the resurrection of the true “Son of David,” the Lord Jesus Christ. It was because of David’s hope of the resurrection of his son – the Messiah – that he had hope for his own resurrection. In this sense, David’s words referred to his own hope of resurrection, based upon his hope that his offspring, the Messiah, would be raised from the dead.

Asaph, another psalmist, also had resurrection hope:

21 When my heart was embittered

And I was pierced within,

22 Then I was senseless and ignorant;

I was like a beast before You.

23 Nevertheless I am continually with You;

You have taken hold of my right hand.

24 With Your counsel You will guide me,

And afterward receive me to glory (Psalm 73:21-24, NASB).

Likewise, I believe that we find resurrection hope in the Book of Proverbs as well:

The wicked are thrown down by their own sin,

but the righteous have a refuge when they die (Proverbs 14:32, CSB).

When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down,

but even in death the righteous have a refuge (Proverbs 14:32, NIV).

The path of life is upward for the wise person,

to keep him from going downward to Sheol (Proverbs 15:24).4

Resurrection Hope in the Prophets

In Ezekiel 37, the prophet is given a vision of the dry bones of many who are dead being raised to life (37:1-10). Then God explains to Ezekiel just what this vision means:

11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are all the house of Israel. Look, they are saying, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope has perished; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and tell them, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: Look, I am about to open your graves and will raise you from your graves, my people. I will bring you to the land of Israel. 13 Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. 14 I will place my breath in you and you will live; I will give you rest in your own land. Then you will know that I am the Lord – I have spoken and I will act, declares the Lord’” (Ezekiel 37:11-14).

The prophet Daniel was given insider information about events which were to come after his death. Included in these events was the resurrection of the dead, both the righteous and the wicked. The righteous would be raised to their reward, while the wicked would be raised to face their punishment. Daniel was told to persevere till the end of his life, assured that he would be resurrected to enjoy his eternal reward:

1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who watches over your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress unlike any other from the nation’s beginning up to that time. But at that time your own people, all those whose names are found written in the book, will escape. 2 Many of those who sleep in the dusty ground will awake – some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting abhorrence. 3 But the wise will shine like the brightness of the heavenly expanse. And those bringing many to righteousness will be like the stars forever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, close up these words and seal the book until the time of the end. Many will dash about, and knowledge will increase” (Daniel 12:1-4).

13 But you should go your way until the end. You will rest and then at the end of the days you will arise to receive what you have been allotted” (Daniel 12:1-3, 13).

Jonah’s experience in the belly of the great fish likewise foreshadowed the resurrection of Jesus:

38 Then some of the experts in the law along with some Pharisees answered him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights (Matthew 12:38-40).

The Hope of Resurrection in the New Testament

From the outset of His public ministry to the very end Jesus spoke of His resurrection. This is not to say that the disciples grasped the meaning of what He spoke at the moment, for this understanding came later:5

18 So then the Jewish leaders responded, “What sign can you show us, since you are doing these things?” 19 Jesus replied, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.” 20 Then the Jewish leaders said to him, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and are you going to raise it up in three days?” 21 But Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 So after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the saying that Jesus had spoken (John 2:18-22).

From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised (Matthew 16:21).

22 When they gathered together in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. 23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they became greatly distressed (Matthew 17:22-23).

30 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “This night you will all fall away because of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised, I will go ahead of you into Galilee” (Matthew 26:30-32).

31 Then Jesus took the twelve aside and said to them, “Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; he will be mocked, mistreated, and spat on. 33 They will flog him severely and kill him. Yet on the third day he will rise again.” 34 But the twelve understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what Jesus meant (Luke 18:31-34).

4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood beside them in dazzling attire. 5 The women were terribly frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has been raised! Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8 Then the women remembered his words (Luke 24:4-8).

The dullness of the disciples regarding the necessity of our Lord’s death and resurrection is obvious, but let us take caution not to allow their blindness to the necessity of Messiah’s resurrection to diminish our appreciation for the prominence of the hope of resurrection in the Old Testament, and even in the Gospels. If the disciples had forgotten our Lord’s teaching about His resurrection in their moments of despair, the enemies of our Lord had not forgotten:

62 The next day (which is after the day of preparation) the chief priests and the Pharisees assembled before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember that while that deceiver was still alive he said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give orders to secure the tomb until the third day. Otherwise his disciples may come and steal his body and say to the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “Take a guard of soldiers. Go and make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went with the soldiers of the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone (Matthew 27:62-66).

After His resurrection, our Lord taught His disciples about the necessity of His death and resurrection as taught throughout the Scriptures:

21 But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. Not only this, but it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Furthermore, some women of our group amazed us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back and said they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see him.” 25 So he said to them, “You foolish people – how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things written about himself in all the scriptures (Luke 24:21-27).

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it stands written that the Christ would suffer and would rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things (Luke 24:45-48).

Who can overlook the prominence of the resurrection in the Book of Acts? The apostles agree that Judas’ replacement must be a witness of the resurrection.6 Beginning with Peter’s sermon at Pentecost,7 the resurrection was a central theme in the preaching of the gospel:

22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man clearly attested to you by God with powerful deeds, wonders, and miraculous signs that God performed among you through him, just as you yourselves know – 23 this man, who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed by nailing him to a cross at the hands of Gentiles. 24 But God raised him up, having released him from the pains of death, because it was not possible for him to be held in its power (Acts 2:22-24).

14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a man who was a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the Originator of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this fact we are witnesses! (Acts 3:14-15)

1 While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests and the commander of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them, 2 angry because they were teaching the people and announcing in Jesus the resurrection of the dead (Acts 4:1-2).

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, replied, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today for a good deed done to a sick man – by what means this man was healed – 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, this man stands before you healthy. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, that has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:8-12).

27 “For the people who live in Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize him, and they fulfilled the sayings of the prophets that are read every Sabbath by condemning him. 28 Though they found no basis for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had accomplished everything that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and placed him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had accompanied him from Galilee to Jerusalem. These are now his witnesses to the people. 32 And we proclaim to you the good news about the promise to our ancestors, 33 that this promise God has fulfilled to us, their children, by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second psalm, ‘You are my Son; today I have fathered you.’ 34 But regarding the fact that he has raised Jesus from the dead, never again to be in a state of decay, God has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and trustworthy promises made to David.’ 35 Therefore he also says in another psalm, ‘You will not permit your Holy One to experience decay.’ 36 For David, after he had served God’s purpose in his own generation, died, was buried with his ancestors, and experienced decay, 37 but the one whom God raised up did not experience decay. 38 Therefore let it be known to you, brothers, that through this one forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by this one everyone who believes is justified from everything from which the law of Moses could not justify you” (Acts 13:27-39).

30 “Therefore, although God has overlooked such times of ignorance, he now commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has set a day on which he is going to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom he designated, having provided proof to everyone by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

In the New Testament Epistles, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is a prominent part of the gospel which must be believed, and a central truth that cannot be denied.

1 From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. 2 This gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3 concerning his Son who was a descendant of David with reference to the flesh, 4 who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 1:1-4).

9 because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation (Romans 10:9-10).

3 For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received – that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as though to one born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

12 Now if Christ is being preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty. 15 Also, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified against God that he raised Christ from the dead, when in reality he did not raise him, if indeed the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins. 18 Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. 19 For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

18 – since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened – so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength. 20 This power he exercised in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms 21 far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And God put all things under Christ’s feet, and he gave him to the church as head over all things. 23 Now the church is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:18-23).

The resurrection of our Lord is not only an essential part of our Lord’s saving work, it is also crucial to the process of sanctification.

1 What shall we say then? Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection. 6 We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 (For someone who has died has been freed from sin.) 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, he is never going to die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires, 13 and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness (Romans 6:1-13).

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin (Romans 7:24-25).

Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you (Romans 8:11).

It is safe to say that from the first book of the Bible (Genesis) to the last (Revelation), the resurrection of Christ (and thus of all men) is a central theme. The consequence of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit was death.8 Their only hope was through a Savior who would come through the seed of the woman.9 As we have seen, the hope of resurrection characterized every Old Testament saint.10 The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the self-imposed test of authenticity of our Lord and of His message.11 It became a central part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we come to the Book of Revelation, the Lord Jesus is portrayed as the risen Lord, and heaven is a return to a garden (of sorts), where we once again find the “tree of life:”

12 I turned to see whose voice was speaking to me, and when I did so, I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands was one like a son of man. He was dressed in a robe extending down to his feet and he wore a wide golden belt around his chest. 14 His head and hair were as white as wool, even as white as snow, and his eyes were like a fiery flame. 15 His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp double-edged sword extended out of his mouth. His face shone like the sun shining at full strength. 17 When I saw him I fell down at his feet as though I were dead, but he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid! I am the first and the last, 18 and the one who lives! I was dead, but look, now I am alive – forever and ever – and I hold the keys of death and of Hades! (Revelation 1:12-18)

“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write the following: “This is the solemn pronouncement of the one who is the first and the last, the one who was dead, but came to life (Revelation 2:8).

9 They were singing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were killed, and at the cost of your own blood you have purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation. 10 You have appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” 11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels in a circle around the throne, as well as the living creatures and the elders. Their number was ten thousand times ten thousand – thousands times thousands – 12 all of whom were singing in a loud voice: “Worthy is the lamb who was killed to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and praise!” 13 Then I heard every creature – in heaven, on earth, under the earth, in the sea, and all that is in them – singing: “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be praise, honor, glory, and ruling power forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures were saying “Amen,” and the elders threw themselves to the ground and worshiped (Revelation 5:9-14).

1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life – water as clear as crystal – pouring out from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 flowing down the middle of the city’s main street. On each side of the river is the tree of life producing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month of the year. Its leaves are for the healing of the nations. 3 And there will no longer be any curse, and the throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city. His servants will worship him, 4 and they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads (Revelation 22:1-4).

I am convinced that it is safe to say that the hope of resurrection is found from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible is filled with examples of resurrection hope.

How the Hope of the Resurrection Changed the Disciples

As I indicated in the introduction to this message, my goal is not to seek to prove the fact of the resurrection (though I believe that is very clear in the Scriptures), but rather to show how the hope of resurrection changed men and women. Those painful hours between our Lord’s arrest and His resurrection were the lowest moments the disciples had ever experienced. Nearly everyone present at our Lord’s crucifixion insisted that He come down from His cross and break the shackles of Roman rule before they would regard Him as the true Messiah of Israel:

35 The people also stood there watching, but the rulers12 ridiculed him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, his chosen one!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the king of the Jews.” 39 One of the criminals who was hanging there railed at him, saying, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:35-39, emphasis mine)

I believe that during those very dark days before our Lord’s resurrection the disciples concluded that they had chosen to follow the wrong Messiah. They must have felt as though they had wasted three years of their lives. They certainly had no hope; instead, they were in the very depths of despair. Their future seemed to be that of those who have appeared on “America’s Most Wanted” television program, because they had been our Lord’s closest followers. No wonder they locked themselves in a room and stayed in hiding until they were convinced that Jesus really was alive.13

In this state of mind, the disciples forgot that Jesus had told them beforehand about His rejection, death, burial, and resurrection in Jerusalem. Their despair was so great that they even refused to believe the report of the women regarding the Lord’s resurrection:

1 Now on the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women went to the tomb, taking the aromatic spices they had prepared. 2 They found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood beside them in dazzling attire. 5 The women were terribly frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has been raised! Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8 Then the women remembered his words, 9 and when they returned from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. 11 But these words seemed like pure nonsense to them, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb. He bent down and saw only the strips of linen cloth; then he went home, wondering what had happened (Luke 24:1-12, emphasis mine).

The disciples’ response was in contrast to the unbelieving Jewish leaders who remember well the words of Jesus:

62 The next day (which is after the day of preparation) the chief priests and the Pharisees assembled before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember that while that deceiver was still alive he said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give orders to secure the tomb until the third day. Otherwise his disciples may come and steal his body and say to the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “Take a guard of soldiers. Go and make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went with the soldiers of the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone (Matthew 27:62-66).

Nothing short of our Lord’s resurrection and the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the church can explain the radical transformation of the disciples. The Peter who a few weeks earlier had said, “I do not know the man” (Matthew 74) can now stand before a Jewish crowd in Jerusalem and speak these words to them:

22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man clearly attested to you by God with powerful deeds, wonders, and miraculous signs that God performed among you through him, just as you yourselves know – 23 this man, who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed by nailing him to a cross at the hands of Gentiles. 24 But God raised him up, having released him from the pains of death, because it was not possible for him to be held in its power” (Acts 2:22-24).

12 When Peter saw this, he declared to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this? Why do you stare at us as if we had made this man walk by our own power or piety? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our forefathers, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate after he had decided to release him. 14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a man who was a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the Originator of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this fact we are witnesses! 16 And on the basis of faith in Jesus’ name, his very name has made this man – whom you see and know – strong. The faith that is through Jesus has given him this complete health in the presence of you all (Acts 3:12-16).

The disciples were now absolutely convinced that Jesus was the promised Messiah, and that according to God’s predetermined plan, He had been rejected, crucified, buried, raised again from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of God the Father. All of the events which had formerly caused them to conclude that they had mistakenly embraced Jesus as the Messiah were now understood to be prophecies God had fulfilled through these events. Their sorrow was swallowed up in joy; their fear was replaced by boldness. Their despair was replaced by hope in God’s promises.

The Resurrection, Hope, and People Today

The Resurrection and the Christian

For the Christian who has trusted in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for their salvation, Easter is a time to celebrate the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We should celebrate His resurrection for many good reasons. Let me mention a few.

First of all, the resurrection is a validation of the person, work, and teaching of Jesus Christ.

1 From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. 2 This gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3 concerning his Son who was a descendant of David with reference to the flesh, 4 who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 1:1-4).

Second, the resurrection of our Lord is proof that the Father was satisfied with the work of the Son at Calvary, and it is our assurance that God will sanctify us through the same Spirit who raised the dead body of Jesus to everlasting life.

4 Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life (Romans 6:4).

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin (Romans 7:24-25).

11 Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you (Romans 8:11).

Thus, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus assures believers regarding the certainty of their salvation and their sanctification.

Third, the resurrection of our Lord is instrumental in giving the Christian the assurance of sins forgiven by cleansing their conscience:

21 And this prefigured baptism, which now saves you – not the washing off of physical dirt but the pledge of a good conscience to God – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who went into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels and authorities and powers subject to him (1 Peter 3:21-22).

Fourth, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus frees us forever from the fear of death, and thus its dominion over us:

14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, he likewise shared in their humanity, so that through death he could destroy the one who holds the power of death (that is, the devil), 15 and set free those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

51 Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – 52 in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! 58 So then, dear brothers and sisters, be firm. Do not be moved! Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:51-58).

20 My confident hope is that I will in no way be ashamed but that with complete boldness, even now as always, Christ will be exalted in my body, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain (Philippians 1:20-21).

10 My aim is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:10-11).

Fifth, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus assures us that we have a living hope, a hope that is securely kept for us in heaven:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).

The Resurrection and the Unbeliever14

If the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is one of the greatest blessings of all time for the Christian, it is just the opposite for the unbeliever. The resurrection of Jesus Christ should be a terrifying truth for every unbeliever. Let me give you some reasons why.

First, it proves that Jesus was God’s promised Messiah, and that everything He said about Himself, salvation, and eternal judgment is true. When pressed by unbelievers to prove He had authority to do and to teach as He did, Jesus made His ability to rise from the dead the final test of His ministry:

18 So then the Jewish leaders responded, “What sign can you show us, since you are doing these things?” 19 Jesus replied, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.” 20 Then the Jewish leaders said to him, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and are you going to raise it up in three days?” 21 But Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 So after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the saying that Jesus had spoken (John 2:18-22).

38 Then some of the experts in the law along with some Pharisees answered him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:38-40).15

Second, the resurrection of Jesus as proven in part by the empty tomb is a truth to which the Holy Spirit bears witness in the heart of the unbeliever. The unbeliever has the daunting task of silencing the witness of the Holy Spirit to the resurrection of Jesus and its implications.

7 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I am going away. For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment – 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned (John 16:7-11, emphasis mine).

Third, some of Jesus’ most zealous opponents were taken aback by the possibility that Jesus may have been raised from the dead. I am speaking in particular of the Pharisees, who (as opposed to the Sadducees) believed in the resurrection of the dead.16 After the resurrection of Jesus, a number of the Pharisees began to back off in their opposition to the preaching of the apostles, while the Sadducees took up the fight:

33 Now when they heard this, they became furious and wanted to execute them. 34 But a Pharisee whose name was Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the council and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time. 35 Then he said to the council, “Men of Israel, pay close attention to what you are about to do to these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and nothing came of it. 37 After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census, and incited people to follow him in revolt. He too was killed, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in this case I say to you, stay away from these men and leave them alone, because if this plan or this undertaking originates with people, it will come to nothing, 39 but if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them, or you may even be found fighting against God.” He convinced them, 40 and they summoned the apostles and had them beaten. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them (Acts 5:33-40, emphasis mine).

6 Then when Paul noticed that part of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, he shouted out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead!” 7 When he said this, an argument began between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 (For the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.) 9 There was a great commotion, and some experts in the law from the party of the Pharisees stood up and protested strongly, “We find nothing wrong with this man. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 10 When the argument became so great the commanding officer feared that they would tear Paul to pieces, he ordered the detachment to go down, take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks (Acts 23:6-10, emphasis mine).

Gamaliel believed (at least hypothetically) in the resurrection of the dead. His argument was a simple one. In the past, movements died along with the death of their leaders. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then His movement would die with Him. If, however, Jesus did rise from the dead as His followers claimed (and as the miracles performed by them indicated), then to oppose the apostles and their preaching was to oppose God Himself. Gamaliel and other Pharisees were at least willing to grant that the Bible taught that the dead would rise. They were also willing to at least consider the possibility that Jesus rose from the dead. If they had to re-think their opposition to Jesus and His followers, surely men today should not set aside the claims of our Lord too quickly, without even considering them.

Fourth, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead means not only that the righteous dead will be raised to inherit their rewards, it also means that the wicked will be raised to suffer eternal punishment. This is the consistent teaching of the entire Bible:

1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who watches over your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress unlike any other from the nation’s beginning up to that time. But at that time your own people, all those whose names are found written in the book, will escape. 2 Many of those who sleep in the dusty ground will awake – some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting abhorrence” (Daniel 12:1-2).

28 “Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and will come out – the ones who have done what is good to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil to the resurrection resulting in condemnation” (John 5:28-29).

30 “Therefore, although God has overlooked such times of ignorance, he now commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has set a day on which he is going to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom he designated, having provided proof to everyone by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

6 For it is right for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to you who are being afflicted to give rest together with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels. 8 With flaming fire he will mete out punishment on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will undergo the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his strength, 10 when he comes to be glorified among his saints and admired on that day among all who have believed – and you did in fact believe our testimony (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10).

27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him (Hebrews 9:27-28). 17

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead means that everyone who dies will be raised from the dead; the believers in Jesus to their eternal rest, and unbelievers to their eternal torment. Those who believe that they cease to exist when they die have believed Satan’s lie. There is no more terrifying thought for the unbeliever than the teaching of the Bible that just as Jesus rose from the dead, they will be raised as well to endure His eternal wrath.

If you are uncertain about your relationship to Jesus Christ and your eternal destiny, my friend, I urge you to study God’s Word, and to consider the resurrection of Jesus, and its implications for you. It is either a blessed hope or a dreaded reality, depending on your relationship to the One who died and rose again. Here is the good news:

6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 or “Who will descend into the abyss?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we preach), 9 because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation. 11 For the scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame” (Romans 10:6-11).

Another Way of Looking at the Hope of the Resurrection

Let me tell you how my thinking this way came about. I was pondering the Christian’s resurrection hope and its effects on the Christian, and that brought me to this text in 1 Peter 3:

4 But in fact, if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. But do not be terrified of them or be shaken. 15 But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess (1 Peter 3:14-15, emphasis mine).

The Christian whose life is characterized by the hope of the gospel – resurrection hope – is the one who will stand out in those dark days when others have no hope. This will prompt some to ask the Christian how they can be so hopeful. This opens the door for us to share our faith with those who lack hope, and to point them to the true hope of the gospel.

Sadly, however, many Christians today don’t seem very hopeful. Political and economic conditions in the world and in our nation are far from encouraging. Christian faith now seems to be in the crosshairs of those in authority, so that prayer, Bible reading, and witnessing are discouraged, if not prohibited in public. Christians who were so hopeful when conservative politicians were elected not so long ago (some of whom professed to be born again) are now gloomy, or just plain mad. Too few are hopeful and optimistic, assured that God is still in control, and that He is bringing about His plans and purposes. Christians today need a very large dose of resurrection hope, and I suspect that setting aside but one day a year to ponder the resurrection is not enough. That is why we observe the Lord’s Table every week.

Thinking of the gloom that characterizes some saints caused me to reflect on Psalm 73, a psalm penned by Asaph. In the first half of the psalm, Asaph is confessing his sinful attitudes toward himself (self righteous), toward the wicked, toward the people of God, and even (especially?) toward God. Asaph wrongly assumed that the promises of God’s blessings were to be fulfilled in this life. (Obviously, he was not thinking like an Old Testament saint, as we see described in Hebrews 11:13-16.) He was distressed because he concluded that the wicked were seemingly experiencing a trouble-free life of prosperity and ease, while he (righteous as he considered himself to be) was suffering for being such a saint. He was so distressed that he considered throwing in the towel (giving up the pursuit of holiness) and joining in with the wicked and their pursuit of pleasure:

10 Therefore they have more than enough food to eat,

and even suck up the water of the sea [And waters of abundance are drunk by them, NASB95).

11 They say, “How does God know what we do?

Is the sovereign one aware of what goes on?”

12 Take a good look! This is what the wicked are like,

those who always have it so easy and get richer and richer.

13 I concluded, “Surely in vain I have kept my motives pure

and maintained a pure lifestyle.

14 I suffer all day long,

and am punished every morning” (Psalm 73:10-14).

Then the author experiences a sudden change in his thinking and attitude:

When I pondered to understand this,

It was troublesome in my sight

17 Until I came into the sanctuary of God;

Then I perceived their end.

18 Surely You set them in slippery places;

You cast them down to destruction.

19 How they are destroyed in a moment!

They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!

20 Like a dream when one awakes,

O Lord, when aroused, You will despise their form.

21 When my heart was embittered

And I was pierced within,

22 Then I was senseless and ignorant;

I was like a beast before You.

23 Nevertheless I am continually with You;

You have taken hold of my right hand.

24 With Your counsel You will guide me,

And afterward receive me to glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but You?

And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

27 For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;

You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.

28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;

I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,

That I may tell of all Your works (Psalm 73:16-28, NASB95; emphasis mine).

I have taught this text several times before, and my basic understanding of this psalm has not changed. But this time, I am approaching the psalm from the perspective of depression and resurrection hope. I believe that Asaph was depressed. His depression caused him to blame God, to envy the wicked, and to contemplate committing sin. He did not need a dose of some wonder drug; what he needed was a different perspective. The perspective he lacked was that of the hope of resurrection.

Asaph was looking at life only from the perspective of this life and its pleasures, and not from the perspective of heaven and its eternal blessings. In this life, the wicked often prosper, perhaps even shaking their fists at God as they do. In this life, the righteous often suffer. But what enables us to persevere (and to do so while praising God) is our resurrection hope. It is the hope of Hebrews 11:13-16 – the hope that the believers’ rewards come not in this life but in the next – that Asaph had lost, but now has regained. It is this resurrection hope that assures Christians of their resurrection and eternal blessings in God’s presence.

Looking at this life from the perspective of his resurrection hope, Asaph now sees life in an entirely different way. The wicked still prosper, but now their prosperity is seen as short-lived. They may enjoy earthly blessings for a while, but they will suffer God’s wrath for all eternity. Their arrogant rebellion against God will not be overlooked.

Asaph also views his life differently in the light of his resurrection hope. In his darkest days, God is near to him. God has not forsaken him at all, and His presence is better than all the material benefits the wicked may enjoy for a moment. But beyond death lies resurrection and an eternity to spend in fellowship with God. Asaph now sees his bitterness and envy as beastly. He praises God for his blessings, well aware of what awaits the wicked.

It is the last words of Psalm 73 that came to mind in the light of 1 Peter 3:15:

28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;

I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,

That I may tell of all Your works (Psalm 73:16-28, emphasis mine)

In the midst of Asaph’s tears of envy and bitterness, his thoughts and actions would have led others astray (73:15). But now he is filled with gratitude, joy, and worship. Now Asaph is filled with hope – resurrection hope. And filled with this hope, he is eager to share it with others, telling them of all God’s works. Now he is able to do as Peter instructs Christians who live in difficult times. He is filled with hope and is eager to share that hope with others.

My friends, I believe that many Christians today are depressed because they are focused upon the prosperity and success of the wicked, and because they have forgotten the hope which they have in Jesus – resurrection hope. We need not be depressed. This world is in rebellion against God, as it has always been. And yet God is sovereign, and He is bringing this world to His preordained plan for it. Let us look at life through the lens of resurrection hope, and thus be like Asaph at the end of his psalm. Let us realize that while the wicked may prosper for a time, we have God’s Spirit dwelling in us, and we will enjoy God’s promised blessings for all eternity as we dwell in His presence. Let that reality, that hope, transform our depression into delight. And let us proclaim our hope to a hopeless world, to the glory of our matchless God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

And as a result, we have resurrection hope!


1 Copyright © 2010 by Robert L. Deffinbaugh. This is the edited manuscript of Lesson 3 in the series Hope and Change God’s Way, prepared by Robert L. Deffinbaugh on April 4, 2010. Anyone is at liberty to use this lesson for educational purposes only, with or without credit.

2 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the NET Bible. The NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION, also known as THE NET BIBLE, is a completely new translation of the Bible, not a revision or an update of a previous English version. It was completed by more than twenty biblical scholars who worked directly from the best currently available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. The translation project originally started as an attempt to provide an electronic version of a modern translation for electronic distribution over the Internet and on CD (compact disk). Anyone anywhere in the world with an Internet connection will be able to use and print out the NET Bible without cost for personal study. In addition, anyone who wants to share the Bible with others can print unlimited copies and give them away free to others. It is available on the Internet at: www.netbible.org.

3 Acts 2:25-36.

4 The more I’ve thought about this, the more texts in Psalms and Proverbs appear to be speaking of eternal life (or eternal judgment) after death. Consider these texts, for example: Psalm 1, 91; Proverbs 3:18, 22; 4:18-19; 5:22-23; 8:35-36; 9:10-18; 11:19, 30; 12:28; 13:12, 14; 14:27, 32; 15:24; 19:23.

5 See John 14:25-26; 16:12-15.

6 Acts 1:22.

7 Acts 2:14ff.

8 Genesis 2:16-17; 3:19, 22-24; 4:8; 5:1ff.

9 Genesis 3:15.

10 Hebrews 11:13-16.

11 See John 2:18-22; Matthew 12:38-40.

12 This translation (like most) leaves the reader with the impression that the crowds are standing by, looking on, but with no expressed opinion. In contrast (thus the “but”), the rulers are challenging Jesus to prove He is the Messiah by coming down from His cross. The Holman Christian Standard Bible (CSB) renders it the way I am inclined to read it: “The people stood watching, and even the leaders kept scoffing: ‘He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is God's Messiah, the Chosen One!’” In other words, almost everyone dared Jesus to come down from His cross to prove that He was the Messiah.

13 See John 20:19, 26; see also Acts 12:12-16.

14 By the term “unbeliever,” I am referring to those who have never abandoned all hope of attaining salvation by their own good works, and who have never placed their trust completely in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus on their behalf, thus eternally securing their salvation by His work in their place.

15 I cite John 2:18-22 first because Jesus made this claim at the outset of His earthly ministry. The statement of Matthew 12:38-40 comes later in His ministry.

16 See Acts 23:8.

17 See also Luke 16:19-31; Romans 2:9-11; 2 Peter 2:4-9; Revelation 20:1-15; 22:12-15.

Related Topics: Spiritual Life, Resurrection