A. As we study this most remarkable life, we have been focusing on His works of great power: miracles, healings, delivering those possessed by demons.
B. Today: the times when Jesus raised up a person from death
C. Resuscitations? We do need to keep these distinct in our minds from the resurrection of Jesus.
II. Several scenes I want to take you to
A. The son the widow of Nain (only in Luke 7:11ff.) – Jesus went with His disciples to a city near Nazareth called Nain, accompanied by a large crowd. As He approached the gate of the city, there was a sizeable funeral procession carrying a dead man out to be buried. When Jesus saw the dead man’s mother, He felt compassion for her, for she was a widow and this was her only son. (She was left all alone.) And so He said to her, “Do not weep.” And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” Suddenly the dead man sat up and began to speak. Fear gripped all the people (Remember the story of the man – I think in England – in the morgue who woke up and the worker who saw him died?), and they began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!”
B. Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:22ff., also in Matthew 9 and Luke 8) – A little while later, when Jesus had crossed over the Sea of Galilee, a large crowd was gathered around Him. A synagogue official named Jairus came up and fell at His feet, imploring Him earnestly, “My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.” And so Jesus went off with him. (On His way He healed the woman with the hemorrhage.) While He was still finishing up speaking with the woman with the hemorrhage, some folks came from Jairus’ house, saying, “Your daughter has died; don’t trouble the Teacher anymore.” But Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid, only believe.” And when they came to the house Jesus took Peter and James and John inside with Him and went into the girl’s room with her parents. He took the girl by the hand, and said, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” Immediately the twelve year old girl got up and began to walk. And of course everyone was completely astounded.
C. Lazarus (only in John 11) – Lazarus was sick, the brother of Mary and Martha. So the sisters sent word to Jesus on the other side of the Jordan, saying, “Lord, the one You love is sick.” But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” Now Jesus had a special love for Mary and Martha and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. And then finally He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea. Our friend Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe.” When Jesus and the disciples arrived, Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. When Martha heard Jesus was coming, she went out to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” When Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, also saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” And He wept. And those who saw Him weep were saying, “See how He loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?”So Jesus, again being deeply moved, came to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone lying against it. Jesus ordered the stone removed. Martha said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” but Jesus said, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they removed the stone. Then Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” And Lazarus came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
D. Matt.27:51-54 (and only there) “And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.”
A. There were other raisings
1. In the OT:
a. Elijah: the widow’s son at Zarephath (1Kings 17:17ff.)
b. Elisha: the Shunammite’s son (2Kings 4:32ff.)
c. The dead body thrown into Elisha’s grave (2Kings 13:21)
2. In Acts:
a. Peter: Dorcas
b. Paul: Eutychus
c. God seems to have raised Paul after he was stoned
B. There are only 3-4 stories we have of Jesus doing this.
1. Jesus raised no one else but these three people.
a. A widow’s son
b. A synagogue ruler’s daughter
c. A friend
2. Three insignificant people. Think of all the people He could have raised and the good they could have done.
A. I used to think these pointed to Jesus’ own resurrection, but now I believe that these point more to THE great resurrection of all believers on the last day, which began with the resurrection of Christ.
1. Christ was the first-fruits of a great harvest
a. 1Cor.15:20-23 “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming.”
b. Col.1:18 “He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead.” (also Rev.1:5)
2. Phil.3:20-21 "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself."
3. John 5:25-29 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live... an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”
4. 1Cor.6:14 "Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power."
5. When Jesus raised these people from the dead, He was giving a little demonstration of what He is going to do on the last day, when He returns in power.
6. He wanted not only to tell us what He was going to do, He wanted to show us what He was going to do.
7. Especially Matt.27:51-54 (the dead who were raised after His death) is a prophetic sign. Those who came to life at His death show the life-giving power of His death.
a. Even the earthquake was a sign pointing to the day when the dead shall rise from under the earth.
b. Jesus came to unlock the prison of hell and death and set free those who would believe in Him. He did this by going to the cross. The cross was like a giant key that unlocked the earth, which is where the dead are imprisoned (literally, in the body, and figuratively, in spirit) - in bondage under the wrath of God. In Rev. 1:18 Jesus said, "I have the keys of death and of Hades." The door was flung open and a way of escape provided.
c. The earthquake was the sound of the door opening.
B. The first part of our resurrection
1. He also did it to the body to show what He came to do to the soul – which work was invisible.
2. When Christ became real to you, when His life flooded into you and called you out of death.
3. Believers in Christ have already begun to experience this great resurrection – in their souls.
4. Col.2:13 “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.”
5. Eph.2:1-7 “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
6. Our resurrection has already begun! Not in our bodies but in our spirits. (We are two parts-physical and spiritual, body and soul or body and spirit.)
7. Ezekiel and the dry bones – Ezek.37:12-13 “‘Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life...’ ”
V. Scenes from the future
A. Let me take you to:
1. A nursing home – we see photos of what we once looked like. I want to show you pictures of what you will look like.
2. A death bed
3. A cemetery
B. The longer we spend here on this earth, the more disenchanted we become with it. This place just isn't all that a home should be. Like the flowers of the field, our bodies grow in health and strength and beauty, but then so quickly they fade and pass away. (WJ reunion- "They're too old.")
C. He keeps sending us signals to get our attention. Sometimes the signals are wonderful, pleasant things. Sometimes they are hard, painful things. He wants you to long for a better place.
D. Rom.8:23 "And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body."
E. Col.3:1-3 “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
F. Billions and billions have died. As far as we know only ten lives raised from the dead.
1. Billions of loved ones have felt like a part of themselves was dying as their loved ones departed, probably billions of prayers have gone up, but only ten have been raised.
2. God has the power to raise them all. "It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal." (Deut.32:39)
3. Why doesn’t He? Because He doesn’t care? You can see His care in these stories. He wept!
a. Every case was one of Jesus showing compassion toward those who had lost loved ones.
4. Because it is not His purpose in this age. In this age we are supposed to grow old and die. We are supposed to experience the loss of our loved ones – to fulfill a greater purpose.
G. Wasn’t Lazarus better off having died? Weren’t the others better off having lost their loved ones and had them revived than to never have lost them in the first place?
1. Do you think the widow of Nain appreciated her son more after he was raised or before he died?
2. Do you think Jairus and his wife were more pleased to have their daughter alive after she had died and been raised by Jesus or before she had died?
3. God allows deaths, God allows hard things because He wants to do even greater things in our lives. He loves us so much that sometimes He doesn’t answer our prayers or our wishes.
4. In the end, all those who trust in Him will see why He did what He did. And just like these folks, they will be happy it happened just the way it did.
5. The griefs and hardships of this life just enhance the glory of the last day.
H. John 11:25-26 “Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”