By Gregg Bing
When Jesus entered the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matt. 16:13) When you look at Jesus’ life the answer is quite plain; it is just as Peter declared, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” (Matt. 16:16). Hundreds of Old Testament prophecies concerning Israel’s promised Messiah were fulfilled in the Lord Jesus. The people were astonished at Jesus’ teaching, “for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matt. 7:29). It was unlike anything they had ever heard (John 7:46). The people were also amazed at the miraculous things that He did: healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, casting out demons, even raising the dead. “But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him” (John 12:37).
In fact, the Jewish leaders, particularly some of the scribes and Pharisees, responded to Jesus saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” Jesus answered them with:
“An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt. 12:39-40)
Here was to be the most striking proof concerning the Christ—His resurrection from the dead! The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Romans, said that Jesus Christ was
“Declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Rom. 1:4)
What was so special about Jesus’ resurrection? After all, He wasn’t the first person to be raised from the dead. Both Elijah and Elisha raised people from the dead in the Old Testament, and Jesus Himself raised others from the dead, including Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus.
While Jesus was not the first to be raised from the dead, His own resurrection went far beyond these others. To begin with, Jesus’ resurrection was prophesied in the Old Testament.
“I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:8-11)
Jesus foretold His own resurrection, even specifying on which day He would be raised (Matt. 16:21).
Jesus had the power to raise Himself from the dead, something the others clearly did not have. He declared in John 10:
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes 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 command I have received from My Father.” (John 10:17-18)
The others who were raised from the dead all died again, physically, while Jesus was raised unto eternal life.
“Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” (Rom. 6:9-10)
Finally, Jesus was the only sinless person to die and rise again, thus He alone could die for the sins of the world. The resurrection of Jesus Christ provided great victory for man; victory over sin’s penalty, bringing justification (Rom. 4:22-25); victory over sin’s power, bringing sanctification (Rom. 6:5-10); victory over Satan, resulting in redemption (Heb. 2:14-15); and finally, victory over death itself, resulting in eternal life with Him (1 Cor. 15:20-23, 51-58).
What tremendous power, this power of Christ’s resurrection, toward us who believe!
“And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.” (Eph. 1:19-21)
Yet, even this—the resurrection of Christ—was not enough for most people to believe in Him. We read in Acts 1:3 that the Lord Jesus “presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs:” the empty tomb, the numerous eyewitnesses (1 Cor. 15:5-8), and the extraordinary transformations of people’s lives, including the twelve apostles, the family of Jesus, and the apostle Paul.
But, just as Abraham told the rich man,
“If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)
The Jews of Jesus’ day had heard His teaching, they saw the signs that He performed, they heard the clear testimony of those who were eyewitnesses to His resurrection, but they persisted in their unbelief. The majority of the people in the world today, both Jew and Gentile, also reject the testimony of the Scriptures concerning the truth of Christ’s resurrection.
How will you respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ? We read in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 that:
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
This glorious gospel, this good news of Jesus Christ, has two important aspects. First, we have a loving Savior who loved us so much He was willing to give Himself on the cross of Calvary as an offering for our sins (Eph. 5:2). Second, we have a living Savior who, after three days, rose from the dead in victory and triumph over sin and death.
This wonderful Savior, based on His finished work of redemption, offers the gift of eternal life to all who will believe in Him (Rom. 6:23). The proof of the Christ and His powerful resurrection is evident in the Scriptures. Don’t follow the world in their persistent unbelief. Hear the Word of God (Rom. 10:17), put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-9), and be saved from the your sins (Acts 16:31). Will you trust Him as your Savior? To do so is to have life and joy and peace and hope.