There is progression in the teaching of the Word of God relative to resurrection. Prior to the resurrection of Christ there was mention only of the resurrection OF THE DEAD. Greek: “anastaseos te nekron”; translation: “and of resurrection of dead ones” (Heb. 6:2). This is the teaching of the kindergarten, primary but elementary.As the Lord was coming down from the Mount of Transfiguration He charged Peter, James and John not to mention the experience till Christ had risen out from among the dead. These disciples who had heard only of the resurrection OF THE DEAD could not understand what Christ meant by the expression THE RISING FROM AMONG THE DEAD. Greek: “ek nekron anaste”; translation: “out from among the dead ones should be raised” (Mark 9:9-10).
Paul in the letter to the Philippians describes his sole-ambition, the burning desire of his heart, his magnificent obsession, and calls it “the out-resurrection from among those who have been raised from among the dead ones” (Phil. 3:11). Greek: “ek-anastasin ten ek nekron”; translation: “the out-resurrection (further selection) from among those who have been raised from among the dead ones.” Paul was assured of rising from the dead in case he died; he was assured of being raised from AMONG the dead in similar circumstances; but he was not sure of a further rising or selection after being raised from among the dead, because further selection was DEPENDENT upon faithfulness, obedience, and had to be attained, earned, merited and won as a PRIZE. So Paul said, “THIS ONE THING I DO.” He would do all in his power to win the prize of the out-calling from among those raised from among the dead ones and thereby rule and reign with our Lord in His coming kingdom.
Note the progression: First, all the dead will be raised. Second, the dead in Christ will be raised from among the lost dead ones before the Tribulation begins, the Old Testament saints will be raised at the end of the Great Tribulation, and the rest a:f the dead will not be raised for a thousand years. See I Thess. 4:13-17; Dan. 12:1-2, and Rev. 20:4-6. Third, after the resurrection of the Christians and their elevation to the judgment seat of Christ in the heavens THERE IS A FURTHER RISING OR SELECTION on the basis of works, possession of the wedding garment which will constitute one a member of the Bride of Christ, the Church, and the privilege as well as responsibility of reigning with Christ.
All Christians will be raised from among the lost dead, but only those who are further selected will receive rewards and reign with Him.
Throughout the Old Testament there is the apparent teaching of a general resurrection. The truth of several resurrections did not come to light until the experience of our Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration. In Mark 9:9, the Lord speaks of the Son of man rising from among the dead. Verse 10 reveals that the disciples did not know what He meant when He spoke of rising from among the dead. In Heb. 6:2, the resurrection of the dead is spoken of as one of the principles of the doctrine of Christ from which they were to go on to perfection. And perfection, so far as the doctrine of the resurrection is concerned, is grasping the truth of several resurrections rather than believing in a general resurrection. Before enumerating the different resurrections, let us define the word resurrection. Webster says it is “a resumption of vigor; restoration; revival, which means to live again.” Man is body, soul and spirit. When a man dies only his body dies; therefore, all that can live again or be resurrected is the body of the one who dies. In Job 14:14, the question is asked, “If a man die, shall he live again ?” Technically speaking, this means if a man ceases to have a physical existence of flesh and bones, will he in the life to come, have a physical existence of flesh and bones? That question is answered in Job 19:25-27. Job, through the Spirit of God, says that though he dies and the worms eat his body, yet in his flesh shall he see God, and he will see Him with his own physical eyes. In order for Job to do this, his body must come back from the dust and exist again in flesh and bones. The present body of man is called a natural, or soulical, body because it is animated by the soul, that is, the blood. The resurrection body of man will be a spiritual body, that is, a body of flesh and bones animated by the Holy Spirit. See Luke 24:39 where we learn that Christ’s resurrection body consisted of flesh and bones animated by the Holy Spirit. He Himself was not a spirit, neither is God a spirit, though both are Spirit. I Cor. 15:50 tells us that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; but Scripture is at one in teaching that flesh and bones are to inherit the kingdom of God. Blood is corruptible and cannot enter into the kingdom of God, but the bodies of resurrected flesh and bones, given life through the Holy Spirit, will enter into the kingdom of God. The entire fifteenth chapter of I Corinthians sets forth the fundamental truth that the bodily resurrection of Christ is the foundation stone of Christianity. The truth is also given that because Christ’s body of flesh and bones arose from the dead, so too shall all mankind arise from the dead in their bodies of flesh and bones. (See I Cor. 15:20-23.) The desire to disbelieve in the physical resurrection of the dead is based upon the pagan philosophy that matter is evil. But such is not the truth, for God created matter and saw that it was good. It is the abuse of matter which produces evil.
I. The first resurrection is made up of three phases:
A. Christ, the firstfruits. I Cor. 15:23 tells us that each man is to be raised in his own company, and that Christ is the firstfruits. According to the laws of the harvest in the Old Testament, there are three aspects: firstfruits, harvest and the gleanings. The firstfruits is plural. In Matt. 27:51-53, the graves of many were opened at the time of the rending of the veil of the Temple, but the bodies of the saints stayed in the graves three days and three nights. They did not come out until after the resurrection of Christ. Since they were restrained until after His resurrection, we can only conclude that they came forth in their resurrection bodies, never to die again. Others in both the Old and the New Testaments were raised from the dead prior to this, but they had to die again. Eph. 4:8 says that when Christ ascended on high He led captivity captive. This could well be those saints who arose immediately after His resurrection and who ascended with Him, comprising the firstfruits. Manifestly, this is the firstfruits.
B. The main harvest has its counterpart in those who are Christ’s at His appearing (I Cor. 15:23). This group is divided into two sections as described in I Thess. 4:13-18. (1) The dead in Christ. (This is a new Testament experience and can therefore mean only the New Testament saints who have died in the Lord); (2) Those who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord. Both of these groups will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. This takes place at the time of the appearing of the Lord, and it precedes His return to the earth by about seven years. The expression in Christ is not an Old Testament expression at all; so this main harvest at the resurrection does not include the Old Testament saints.
C. The next in order of the resurrections is Old Testament and the great tribulation saints. Dan. 12:1 tells of the great tribulation and describes it as a time of trouble for his people Israel. (Do not try to get the church in the great tribulation because it is the time of Jacob’s trouble and not Christ’s bride.) In verse 2 we see that following the great tribulation there is a resurrection of Old Testament saints, or Daniel’s people. The tribulation, as such, lasts for a period of approximately seven years, and the main harvest resurrection takes place when the Old Testament saints plus the tribulation saints are resurrected at the end. (See Rev. 7:14; 20:4) This is the third phase of the first resurrection, and is the fulfillment of the type called “The gleanings.”
To recapitulate, the first resurrection is comprised of the firstfruits – Christ and some of the saints who arose just after He did; the harvest, which includes the dead in Christ and those who are alive at His return. This takes place about 2000 years after the firstfruits. About seven years later come the gleanings, or the resurrection of the Old Testament and the tribulation saints.
II. The second resurrection is described in Rev. 20:5, 6, 11-15. This is called the resurrection of the dead, for all who appear before the Great White Throne are dead physically, and they are dead also because of their separation from God. They are separated from God because they did not receive Christ as Saviour. This takes place at the end of the Millennial reign of Christ, and since they are already lost, the purpose of their appearing before the Great White Throne to be judged out of the record books is to determine the extent of their punishment and suffering in the lake of fire where they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (See Rev. 20:10, 14, 15; 21:8.)
“Blessed and holy is he who hath part in the first resurrection”-either among the firstfruits, the harvest or the gleanings!
In developing the doctrine of the resurrection there is a progression in the Word of God from a general teaching to specific doctrine. Of course, when I mention resurrection, I mean that which the Bible teaches-the resurrection of the physical body of one who was alive but died. Resurrection cannot apply to soul or spirit since neither dies.
The first teaching pertaining to the resurrection was what may be termed a general resurrection OF all of the dead. There seemed to be no discrimination between saved and lost. This is brought out in the conversation between Jesus and Martha in John 11:23, 24: “Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” When Jesus speaks of Lazarus’ resurrection, Martha expresses belief in the resurrection at the last day. Up until this time, Jesus had not introduced the teaching of selective resurrection – that is, some being raised and others left in the graves.
The teaching of a resurrection FROM AMONG the dead is introduced in the experiences on the Mount of Transfiguration. In Mark 9:9 Jesus speaks of the Son of man to be raised FROM AMONG the dead. This was so contrary to the thinking of the apostles that in verse 10 the disciples continued to discuss possible meanings of the Lord’s statement “rise FROM AMONG the dead.”
In Hebrews 6, as the Spirit of the Lord encourages believers to go on from drinking milk to eating of meat – to go on to full maturity in Christian growth-we read in verse 2 that they are to go on from the doctrine of the resurrection OF the dead. The only progression to be made from the doctrine of resurrection OF the dead is from the teaching of the general resurrection to selective resurrection. This selective resurrection is stated again in I Thess. 4:16, which states “the dead in Christ shall rise first.” Those not in Christ shall not rise for a thousand years. “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:5).
There is still a further step in the progression of the teaching pertaining to resurrection. In Phil. 3:11 Paul says, “If by any means I might attain unto the OUT-resurrection FROM AMONG the dead.” Here Paul uses a word for resurrection that is not used any other time in the entire Bible, just here in this one place. The immediate context of this particular resurrection truth is that Paul is saying that he knows he is going to be raised with all Christians at the time of the translation and rapture of the saints, but he is looking forward to a further separation FROM AMONG the risen saints, which he calls the OUT-resurrection. This OUT-resurrection is the prize which Paul mentions in verse 14-a prize for which he is working and toward which he hopes he is moving-a prize dependent upon and conditioned by his faithfulness as a Christian.
Whereas many types of the Bride of Christ reveal them being chosen FROM AMONG the families of the bridegrooms, the Bride of Christ, in the antitype, is chosen OUT FROM the family of God, the Body of Christ. The very word CHURCH (which means “called out from,” or “chosen out from”) emphasizes the fact that she is chosen OUT FROM the family of God. Just as there are numerous scholars who refuse to move on from the truth of the general resurrection OF the dead to that of resurrection FROM AMONG the dead, so are there very few, who appreciate the truth of the resurrection FROM AMONG the dead, who have any appreciation of the OUT-resurrection FROM AMONG those who have been raised FROM AMONG the dead.
Here is the summation of the Bible doctrine of resurrection: 1. There was revealed first to the people of God that there would be a resurrection OF the dead (John 11:24). 2. Christ revealed that there would be a resurrection FROM AMONG the dead (Mark 9:9, 10; I Thess. 4:16; Rev. 20:5). 3. The Holy Spirit revealed that there would be an OUT-resurrection FROM AMONG those who would be raised FROM AMONG the dead (Phil. 3:11).
There is for every Christian the privilege and opportunity to strive, as did the Apostle Paul, to attain to the OUT-resurrection. If you are interested, study carefully Phil. 3:7-14.
IMPORTANCE OF THE RESURRECTION
The Alpha and Omega of the gospel of the apostles was that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. When one must need be chosen to take the place of Judas they said, “One must be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection.” On the day of Pentecost Peter, preaching to the multitude, spoke of this resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh. Peter and John were taken before the council and tried because they taught the people and preached through Jesus Christ the resurrection from the dead. When they were set free it was with great power that they gave witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and great grace was upon them all.
At Athens Paul preached that Jesus Himself was raised from the dead and they mocked and laughed at this teaching and preaching of the resurrection of the dead, saying, “We will hear thee again of this matter.” Paul stood before the council of the Pharisees and Sadducees and said, “Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am called in question.” And in that great, incomparable chapter of I Cor. 15 Paul says, “If Christ be not risen from the dead, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is vain and ye are yet in your sins.” Concerning the importance of the resurrection of the dead, read I Cor. 15:12-19: “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
There were those at Corinth who believed in the resurrection of Jesus but denied the ascension of His body into heaven. They denied all future resurrection. I must call to your attention once again that here Paul and the apostles and others, treating of the resurrection, do not speak, do not think, do not talk of the immortality of the soul. The soul is not mortal; the spirit is not mortal, that is, subject to death; only the body is mortal and only the body can put on immortality. God’s witness is that the whole man-body, soul and spirit-shall yet be restored. You will remember that when God created Adam in the garden of Eden body, soul and spirit, Adam was to eat of the tree of life and be preserved eternally in that body, soul and spirit. That was God’s original plan and purpose and that has not been changed. The redemption of God includes the body, includes the soul, and includes the spirit; and for that Paul prayed in I Thess. 5:23. Look at our Lord Jesus Christ when He died. He yielded His Spirit to God the Father; His body went into the mausoleum and His soul went down into Hades. In the death of the Lord Jesus Christ the three component parts-body, soul, Spirit-were separated and went into three different places. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ involved the bringing back of the Spirit, the bringing back of the soul, and the putting of them in the body and the raising of the body once from the dead. And when we talk about the resurrection, that is what we mean: body, soul, and spirit.
Here Paul is contending that if we preach that Christ rose from the dead, how can anybody say then that there is no resurrection of the dead, because if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ did not rise from the dead; and if Christ did not rise from the dead, He is still in that tomb, and that tomb is not an empty tomb. The greatest testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the empty tomb. One day I asked a brother minister (who was denying the resurrection of the body of the Lord Jesus Christ), “Where is the body of the Lord Jesus Christ?” (And my beloved friends, you who deny the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, this same question is asked you which I asked this minister, “Where is the body of the Lord Jesus Christ? Where is that body that was born of the virgin Mary, that walked the shores of Galilee; where is that body that suffered and bled, hung on Calvary’s cross, died and was buried; WHERE IS THAT BODY?”) After a moment’s hesitation he said, “Well, I guess it went back to the dust.” Imagine, Beloved, someone preaching the so-called blessed hope and telling us that our Hope has dissolved and is in the dust and that our Hope is in the grave. No wonder so many people are buying burial lots, building fallout shelters, looking for a hole in the ground. The Hope of the Christian is in the heavens, from whence we look for Him and from whence we shall see Him.
Continuing in I Cor. 15:13: If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ did not rise; and if Christ be not risen, then we who preach the resurrection of Christ are preaching in vain, and you who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ have believed in vain; you have wasted your time, energy and efforts; because the Word of God is that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth that Jesus is the Lord and believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Weare told that unless you believe that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, and unless you believe that Jesus Christ is coming again in the flesh, you are of the spirit of anti-christ. Paul says, “If Christ did not rise from the dead, I am a false witness, I am preaching falsehoods, I am preaching lies, I am misrepresenting God’s truth to you because I have testified of God that He raised up Christ from the dead.”
You may wonder why the emphasis here is upon the name Christ rather than the name Jesus. It is significant that the name Christ is used here, lest someone should deny that Jesus and Christ are the same-God manifest in the flesh. It was Christ who took a body, it was Christ who died in that body, it was Christ who rose in that body, it was Christ who ascended in that body, it is Christ who is present at the right hand of God the Father interceding for us, it is Christ who is coming again-the Man Christ Jesus. Do not try to separate Jesus and Christ and make two persons because they are not two persons, they are one Person. And here in this fifteenth chapter we have the emphasis on Christ that you may know He who was God from eternity became flesh and dwelt among us . . . Christ.
If the dead do not rise from the graves, then Christ did not rise from the dead. We cannot imagine the results, the consequences, had not Christ risen from the dead! In the 17th verse Paul says that if Christ did not rise from the dead, your faith is nothing and you are still in your sins. That peace that you imagine you have because of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the result of self-hypnosis, your sins are not forgiven, you have no peace, you have no joy, you have no happiness, you have no hope, you have no prospects unless Christ rose from the dead. You are still in your sins, you are lost, doomed, damned, you are on your way out into oblivion-a land from whence there is no return, from whence there has come no word, an experience of which nobody knows anything-unless Christ be risen from the dead. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Jesus are perished, the dead in Christ shall not rise if the dead rise not, and all of your loved ones, all of my loved ones, all of the Old Testament saints, all of the New Testament saints who died in the faith are perished, gone forever, doomed, never again to be seen or known by anyone else-unless Christ rose from the dead. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, if Christ just means a little peace and a little joy, a little forgiveness and quiet of conscience in this life, if that is all there is to Christianity, then we are of all men most miserable. But the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is for eternity; and our hope, our prospect is in heaven, is in the future and is wrapped up and bound up in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” But Paul does not allow and I am not going to allow this message to come to a close on that note. Look at the first part of the next passage: “BUT NOW IS CHRIST RISEN FROM THE DEAD.” It is an established, historical, documented fact that Christ arose visibly, bodily, literally, tangibly from the dead and ascended into heaven in that same way; and from thence we look for Him in that visible, bodily, literal, tangible return when He comes to claim His own.
WORD BECAME FLESH
We are continuing the study of the resurrection of the body, of life beyond the grave in a physical nature. The proof of God Almighty that such is the case is in the physical, literal, visible, tangible resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. I want to write of the incarnation of the Lord, about our Lord taking unto Himself a body of flesh, blood and bones, of His presence on the earth in that body, of His ministry in that body; and then in days to come we will discuss the death of that body, the resurrection of that body, the ascension of that body, the presence of that body in heaven and the return of that body to the earth.
When the Lord Jesus Christ came in the flesh, He had a body, He received a body, He took a body that is to be His forevermore. That body was seen in heaven by Stephen; that body was seen by Paul on the road to Damascus; that body was seen by John on the Isle of Patmos, and in that body Jesus reached out and touched John with His right hand. When the Lord returns to the earth, the nation of Israel shall see Him coming in that body; and the startling thing of that revelation shall be that as He approaches earth, they shall see that their Messiah has wounds in His hands and shall cry out, “Lord, whence receivest Thou Thy wounds?” And He will reply unto them (now mind you, this is still in the future), “These are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”
Notice now John 1:10-14: “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made (or better still, the Word became) flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. That was necessitated by virtue of the fact that He was in the world and the world knew Him not. All of the theophanies, all of the manifestations of the Godhead in the Old Testament were in the Person of Christ.
The first mention we have of that is that He appeared in the garden of Eden unto Adam and Eve and the serpent. It was He who covered their nakedness with the coats of skins. It was this Christ, the Jehovah, who later became Jesus. . . or let us say, was revealed as Jesus the Christ. He appeared unto Abraham, accompanied by two angels: He appeared again an- nouncing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It was this Christ, Jehovah, who appeared as the mysterious man to Jacob and wrestled with him at Peniel. It was as the Angel of the Lord that Christ appeared unto Moses in the burning bush. It was this same Christ who guided the children of Israel in a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day. It was this same One who appeared unto Joshua, captain of the Lord’s hosts. It was this same One who appeared unto Manoah and his wife and told them of the approaching birth of Samson. It was this same One who appeared unto Isaiah, who caused him to cry out, “Woe is me.” It was this same One who appeared unto Ezekiel; it was this same One who appeared unto Daniel. All of the manifestations in the Old Testament were the second Person of the Godhead. No man hath seen God the Father at any time. It is the Son who has revealed Himself. He was in the world and the world knew Him not; He came unto His own and His own received Him not, and because of that, we read that the Word became flesh. The Word became flesh.
We read in Hebrews 10:5, “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me.” This body was prepared for Him that He might atone for our sins. This body was prepared for Him that in the flesh He might sit on David’s throne. Acts 2:29-31: “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell (or ‘Sheol’ as the Old Testament expresses it; ‘Hades’ as the Greek in the New Testament expresses it; that is ‘His soul was not left in Hades’), neither his flesh did see corruption.;’ The Lord God Almighty promised David that He would raise Christ from the dead, that He in the flesh might sit on David’s throne; and for that reason (along with other reasons), the flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ did not see corruption.
Again, concerning the flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ, we read in Romans 9:4, 5, speaking of the brethren of Christ according to the flesh: “Who are Israelites, to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever.” This One born of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, of Judah, of the seed of David, of the children of Israel. . . mind you, this One born in the flesh of that lineage is Christ, God blessed forever.
In Luke 1:30, 31 we read, “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.” Now the name “Jesus” is all important and we are going to devote much time to this name “Jesus.” The name “Jesus” is the name of His body of flesh; the name “Jesus” is the name of His humanity. If this One called Jesus the Christ does not have His body of flesh in heaven today, then He is not Jesus Christ, the one Mediator between God and man. If this One called Jesus is not in heaven in His body of flesh and bones, you cannot call Him Jesus, there is no Jesus. Jesus is the name of His flesh, His humanity. Christ is the name of His deity. God manifest in the flesh is Jesus Christ, other times called Christ Jesus; and there is a reason why those names are alternated, one coming first and then the other, at various and sundry times.
“Thou shalt call His name Jesus.” He is never called “Jesus” as spirit or soul. The name “Jesus” belongs to and pertains only to His body of flesh. And if there is no one with this body of flesh, then there today is no Jesus. But praise God, Paul, in writing to Timothy, says there is now, today, this very moment, one Mediator between God and man, the MAN (that’s His humanity) CHRIST (that’s His deity) JESUS (that’s His humanity again) – the Man Christ Jesus. If Jesus is not present in His body of flesh in heaven today, we have no Mediator between God and man, we have no go-between, we have no one to bridge the gap, we have no one to intercede for us, we have no salvation, we have no hope and, as Paul said, “we are of all men most miserable.”
Back to Luke 1:31-33: “Thl;)u shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: And He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh. “And the Word became flesh.” There must be a voluntary, sacrificial offering; there must be the shedding of blood; and since the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin, since only the sinless, matchless, perfect, pure, holy, righteous blood of One could atone for sin, God Himself must come in the flesh. God Himself must take upon Himself a body of blood and flesh, that blood must be shed as an atonement for our sin, and the manifestation of God in the flesh is in the Person of the second individual of the Godhead – the Christ become Jesus Christ. See John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh (ASV), and dwelt among us.” The coming of Christ IN THE FLESH was for the purpose of atoning for our sins and of redeeming us.
We will show as we further study this particular truth that it was in the flesh that He appeared, that He was born, that He lived, that He served, that He ministered; it was in the flesh that He died; it was in the flesh that He was nailed to the cross; it was from His body of flesh that the blood flowed; it was that body of flesh that was placed in the tomb; it was that body of flesh that arose; it was that body of flesh that appeared unto the women, to the disciples and others; it was that body of flesh that the women handled; it was that body of fl~sh that ate fish and honey; it was that body of flesh which He challenged the disciples to come and handle and see that He was not a spirit; it was that body of flesh that arose, ascending on high; it was of that body of flesh of which the two men from heaven said, “This same Jesus, THIS SAME JESUS, shall come in like manner.” He is coming back just like He ascended. And it is in that body of flesh that He is interceding for us. The Word became flesh, the Word is flesh, and the Word shall return in flesh.
FROM THE CROSS TO THE TOMB
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the central doctrine of Christianity. In the early days of the church, one of the heresies that developed concerned the humanity of our Lord. The contention was that His body was just a phantom – not a real, literal, actual body of flesh, blood and bones; therefore, His death was not real.
There are few today who deny the humanity of Jesus, but many spiritualize the facts of His life. At the present time there are many who are treating the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ the same way in which the early heretics treated His death – as a figure of speech and not to be understood literally. You can imagine the astonishment with which I read in the publication of a great denomination that “Jesus is no longer in the flesh.” Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote against such heresies; and now the question arises, “Who is Christ, and what is Christ?”
How can you offer salvation to a lost world in, through and by a Saviour who is nonexistent? The Christ of the Scriptures was with God from the beginning; the Christ of the Scriptures BECAME FLESH and dwelt among us; the Christ of the Scriptures died for the sins of the world; the Christ of the Scriptures was raised from the dead; the Christ of the Scriptures ascended on high; the Christ of the Scriptures is at the right hand of God the Father; and only the Christ of the Scriptures could bring the salvation of the Scriptures. I want to show you that the Lord Jesus Christ arose from the dead in His body of flesh and bones, ascended on high in that same body, is present in heaven in that same body, and shall return to the earth in that same body.
Consider the body which Christ received from the virgin Mary. Luke 1:35: “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” That holy thing, the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ was not a created angel. Nor was He a created man; He was begotten of God from the seed of the woman, by and through the Holy Ghost. That which was begotten was not a person, but a nature…a human nature. That human nature was holy, that human nature is still holy. The Scripture calls it “that holy thing.” This holiness was produced by and out of the Holy Ghost; it was produced by and out of God. It is the quality of the holiness of God; and since this human nature is of the quality of the holiness of God, it could not sin. It was holy, sinless human nature, indissolubly joined to the eternal personality of the Son of God. His human nature could not have sinned because He was very God of very God.
Now, because He had a human nature that could not sin, His body was not subject to death. We read in John 10:18, speaking of His life that He would lay down: “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.” No man could take His life from Him. He was immune to death and only when He willed it could He experience death. In Romans 6:23 we read that “the wages of sin is death.” And because He had no sin, He had no wages, death was not His, death had no power over Him, death had no control over Him, and the ravages of sin and death did not manifest themselves on His holy body. Ofttimes during His lifetime they sought to take Him and to slay Him; but we read that they did not, they could not, because His hour had not yet come.
Now, let us go with Him to the cross. There we find the Lord Jesus Christ crucified, suffering beyond the comprehension of man. And as we contemplate that suffering, we remember that many volumes have been written, trying to account for His death. And that is not difficult at all. The Scriptures read simply that when His hour had come, and when that moment-decreed from before the foundation of the world in the eternal council chambers of God that He should die. . . when that moment came He turned His face toward heaven and said, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit,” and with that He yielded up His spirit. It was a voluntary death; and until He voluntarily chose to surrender His life, no one, nothing could take it from Him, because He was sinless.
He died sinlessly upon the cross; that is, there is no sin within Him, though all of the sin of the world was put upon Him. It was a sinless body that experienced death. Since that body was sinless, that body would not-yea, that body could not – undergo the processes of death. Had He not risen from the dead when He did but continued in the tomb until today, that body would be today as it was then, because it was a sinless body and the forces of death had no power over, in or about it. You should keep that in mind in order to understand and appreciate the fact that “a body Thou hast prepared for me.”
Now, when that body had yielded up the spirit according to the will of God Almighty, we find a number of things taking place. First, we find two men coming to claim that body. In John 19:38-42, notice the preparation by Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus of the body of the Lord Jesus Christ for its burial. Nicodemus came with a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes and he, along with Joseph of Arimathaea, had the linen cloth with which to wrap the body of Jesus. The best I can explain it: The application of the myrrh and aloes with the linen cloth is similar to the application of a plaster of Paris cast today. Myrrh is a kind of resinous gum and the aloes is a powdered wood; and the mixing of that gum and the powdered wood together made a sticky substance which was spread on the cloth as it was wound around the body of Jesus, similar to the plaster of Paris cast, starting at the toes and continuing up to the neck. Thus, the body of the Lord Jesus Christ was enclosed, was incased in that myrrh, aloes and linen cloth to the weight of one hundred pounds or more. This mixture of myrrh and aloes would harden and set, even as does plaster of Paris. Keep these facts in mind if you want to understand and appreciate the significance of the fact that Peter and John did not believe in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ until they saw those undisturbed graveclothes.
While Joseph and Nicodemus were preparing the body of our Lord for burial, the Lord’s enemies were seeking to eliminate any possible resurrection teaching. Matthew 27:62-64: “Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, 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.” Pilate then gave them a Roman watch, a minimum of sixty-six men, to stand guard over that tomb and see that they did not steal away the body of our Lord and claim that He had risen from the dead.
Keep these two major facts in mind as you meditate on the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. First, a body is incased in a cast of myrrh and aloes of about a hundred pounds’ weight which would become hard as a rock. Second, Pilate grants them a Roman watch with a minimum of sixty-six men to guard the tomb. Will they be able to keep Him in that tomb?
In our last meditation the Lord Jesus was in a tomb. His body, from whence He had voluntarily released His spirit Himself, was taken by Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus and wrapped in linen cloth with a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes spread in and through the cloth in which it was wrapped, making a cast about His body which would harden. Not only was His body incased in that cast and laid in the tomb, but the enemies of Jesus, who believed His statements far more readily than did His disciples, had obtained from Pilate a Roman watch, which was composed of not less than sixty-six men. This guard was to be set over the tomb to see that no one would steal away the body of the Lord and then claim that He had risen from the dead.
Not only was the body incased in this cast weighing a hundred pounds or more (according to the weight of the linen cloth), not only was there a Roman guard with not less than sixty-six men, but there was also a Roman seal on the door of the sepulchre. They imagined that the body of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was in the tomb to stay; and one marvels at the teachers of the Word of God today who have no concept whatsoever of the power of God as manifested in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In John 20:1-10 we read: “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and that other disciple (which was John) did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.”
When Mary Magdalene came to the sepulchre she found the stone had been rolled away. She then went and told the disciples, and Peter and John left the group and ran to the tomb. John, being the faster of the two, reached the door of the sepulchre first. He had not the bold, brash nature of Peter and he paused at the door. After a few moments Peter arrived and went right on into the sepulchre, and John soon followed. When they saw the graveclothes, they believed.
Here is what happened. In Luke 24:12 we read, “Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves. . .” But the literal translation is: “lying by themselves.” Then he “departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.” Now this expression “beheld the linen clothes lying by themselves” is a very singular expression. Oh, that man would give attention to the words which our Lord uses and study them and ascertain the meaning of them. Here the Word states that Peter saw the linen clothes lying by themselves. This does not mean over, apart and separate from something else, but he saw them lying of themselves; he saw them resting and maintaining the shape of the contour of the body of our Lord; he saw them being upheld of and by themselves.
As previously explained, the cast of myrrh, aloes and linen cloth, about a hundred pounds’ weight, would of necessity be several inches thick. And when Peter entered the tomb and saw the graveclothes hardened and maintaining the shape which they had when the body was in them-they had not collapsed, they had not been cut, they had not been broken, they had not been unwrapped-he belived.
In raising Lazarus from the dead, the Lord commanded some to roll away the stone from the sepulchre. God Almighty Himself rolled the stone away from the sepulchre of Jesus. Jesus had to call to Lazarus to come forth. When Lazarus came forth bound by the graveclothes, the Lord commanded those that stood by to unwrap the linen cloth from the body of Lazarus. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ it was not necessary to remove the stone from the door nor to remove the graveclothes. He passed through the cast which enclosed His body and out of the tomb without benefit of the door. His entrance into the locked room in which the disciples were waiting is conclusive evidence that in His resurrected body He could pass through walls of substance.
The linen clothes-this cast of myrrh and aloes-was lying there as it was when the body of Jesus was present. . . undisturbed, unbroken, uncut, unwrapped. . . but empty. Prior to His resurrection He was lying there incased in that cast of myrrh, aloes and linen cloth and this napkin, or cloth was placed over His face. Now, when the Lord arose and His body went out of that cast and out of that napkin, the napkin simply collapsed-it folded up in the place where it was. The Lord in His body of flesh and bones was gone. And when Peter saw the graveclothes undisturbed, when he saw the napkin had simply collapsed where it had been over the face of our Lord, he had to believe. John, seeing the boldness of Peter, entered into the tomb. As he and Peter stood there and considered the significance of the undisturbed graveclothes, of those clothes lying there-of themselves maintaining the shape of the body, and the covering of the face collapsed in folds where His head had lain-then they believed; that is, they believed that the Lord Jesus Christ had risen in His literal, physical, visible, tangible body of flesh and bones.
There is one eternal, God-blessed truth concerning that tomb on that morning-IT WAS EMPTY. The body of the Lord Jesus Christ was gone. The most startling question that can be asked any individual today concerning the Lord Jesus Christ is, “Where is His body?” Where is that body of flesh and bones of the Lord Jesus Christ? The empty tomb is God Almighty’s irrefutable evidence that Jesus Christ is God Almighty’s testimony to you and to me that we too one day shall live in our bodies of flesh and bones.
“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming” (I Cor. 15:21.23).
APPEARANCE UNTO MARY MAGDALENE
In our last study we considered the experiences of Peter and John at the sepulchre, from whence the stone had been rolled away and in which were the undisturbed graveclothes, from whence our Lord had taken His leave. These undisturbed graveclothes resulted in Peter’s and John’s accepting the truth of the literal, physical, visible, bodily, tangible resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Now I want to consider the appearances of our Lord to various and sundry individuals and we will continue to study these appearances until we have concluded. There seem to have been some eleven separate and distinct appearances of the Lord Jesus Christ in His body of flesh and bones before His ascension, and six appearances of the Lord Jesus in His body of flesh and bones after He entered into heaven.
In John 20:11-18 we read: “But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they had laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.”
This Mary is the one out of whom our Lord had cast seven demons; this is the one of whom He forgave so much and it seems, therefore, He loved so much. Standing at the tomb and looking in, she sees it empty; then she sees two angels in white sitting there in the sepulchre-one sitting at the place where His head had been, the other sitting at the place where His feet had been-and she is weeping. When they ask concerning that, she inquires concerning the disposition they have made of the body of our Lord. So she turns, goes away and she sees Jesus standing there, not knowing that it is Jesus.
This name Jesus. . . I am going to have occasion to refer to it again and again. You can have no concept of Christianity, of redemption, of salvation unless you understand the significance of the name Jesus. Jesus is the name of His humanity. Jesus corresponds to the name “Son of man.” Christ is the name of His deity and it corresponds to the name “Son of God.” Imagine anyone saying that Jesus is no longer in the flesh! If this person is not in the flesh, then He is no longer Jesus. Jesus is the name of His humanity; and if you talk about Jesus today you are talking about someone with a body of flesh and bones because that name Jesus applies only to that which was born of the virgin Mary, and that which was born of the virgin Mary was that holy thing, that sinless body, that sinless nature of the Lord Jesus Christ which is God manifest in the flesh. And today the only Mediator between God and man is the man Christ Jesus. And if Jesus is not at the right hand of God today in His body of flesh and bones, then neither you nor I nor anyone else has any mediator, we have no go-between, we have no one to stand between us and God. But, praise God, now IS Christ risen from the dead!
And when Mary turned and looked and saw this One, Jesus, she was looking upon a body of flesh and bones. And so this One, Jesus, so designated, says to her, “Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?” She-because of her tear-dimmed eyes, because of her unbelief in the physical, bodily, literal, tangible resurrection of the Lord -does not know that this is her Lord and Saviour but supposes it is the gardener. And so she says, “Tell me where thou hast laid Him (meaning Jesus) and I will take Him away.” And then Jesus calls out her name, “Mary.” The tone of the name! How oft had she heard that name before! She would never forget that tone of voice, the love, the mercy, the compassion that was in His voice as He spoke to her. And she turns and she says, “Rabboni,” which is to say, “Master.” And then she grabs Him by the feet, the lower limbs, and clings to Him. The King James translation says, “Touch me not.” But the literal translation is, “Stop clinging to me.” The Amplified New Testament brings that out very clearly: John 20:17: “Jesus said to her, do not cling to me, do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father, but go to my brethren and tell them I am ascending to my Father and to your Father and to my God and to your God.”
She actually reached out, grabbed hold of Him and held Him. He was physical, He was corporal, He was visible, He was tangible. And she had hold of His resurrected body-a body that could be seen, a body that could be handled, a body that could be felt, a body that could be held-and He says, “Stop clinging to me.” He still has a mission to accomplish: He must go to heaven, He must take His blood, He must put that on the mercy seat-according to the typical teaching of the high priest who, having offered the sacrifices, must go in and put the blood on the mercy seat in the holy of holies before coming out and appearing unto the multitudes. And our Lord Jesus Christ must do that; and that He did, as evidenced by the expression in the Epistle to the Hebrews in which we are told that it was by His own blood, it was through His own blood, it was with His own blood that He entered into the holy of holies. And He tells Mary that He must do that. But she in the meantime is to go and tell all of the brethren that He has risen from the dead and that He is ascending to His Father and to their Father and to His God and their God and that He will meet them a little later at the sea of Galilee.
Here is the first appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ after His resurrection from the dead. It is unto Mary, the one who loved Him as few others have. Oh, my beloved friends, when you get to know Him and His love for you, and experience the forgiveness and the grace, the mercy and compassion and the love that He has for you, you too will love Him as did Mary; you too will want to grasp Him and hold Him and keep Him with you. And I praise God that when you have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, when you have received the Lord Jesus Christ, He comes in the Person of His Holy Spirit to indwell you, never again to be separated from you, but to indwell you henceforth.
In summarizing, please note that the Lord Jesus Christ, having risen from the dead, Peter and John having been convinced of His resurrection simply by the undisturbed graveclothes, now appears personally and visibly and bodily and tangibly unto Mary Magdalene. And as He speaks her name and as she recognizes His voice and knows of a certainty that this is Jesus, the same One who forgave her of her sins and who died for her, she grabs Him by the feet; but He says, “Stop clinging to me.” Mary Magdalene testifies that Jesus Christ arose from the dead in His body of flesh and bones by grabbing it, clasping it, holding it, and clinging unto it until He bids her desist and to go and tell His brethren that He will meet them in Galilee.
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept” (I Cor. 15:20).
APPEARANCE UNTO THE WOMEN
“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now IS Christ risen from the dead” (l Cor. 15:17-20).
And with the triumphant message of Christ risen from the dead, we continue our studies and meditation in the resurrection, seeking to show, the Lord helping us, from the Word of God that Jesus the Christ rose from the dead in His body of flesh and bones-a literal, visible, tangible body-and in that body ascended into heaven and in that body is present in heaven and in that body is returning again and in that body He shall continue to live throughout eternity.
Our last study told of His appearance unto Mary Magdalene, of her grabbing hold of Him and of His saying unto her, “Stop clinging to Me.” Turning to Luke 23:50-53, we read that Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus took the body of our Lord and laid it to rest in that incasement of linen, myrrh and aloes.
Beginning with Luke 23:55 and reading through 24:11, we read: “And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: 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. And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.”
This expression “these words seemed unto them as idle tales” is a medical term and means that these words seemed to them as the ravings of ones who were beside themselves, who were in a delirium, screaming and crying, knowing not what they said.
In connection with this, as Peter and John go running to the tomb, these women evidently follow them back to the tomb. And we read in Matthew 28:6-10 the following: “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: 10, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring pis disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid; go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.”
The interesting thing in this particular instance is that after the Lord had appeared unto Mary in the garden a little while before, He now appears unto all of the other women who had been at the tomb and they recognize Him. Running to Him, they grab hold of His feet and hold Him. Now from Him there is no remonstrance about holding Him as there had been unto Mary. When He rebuked Mary, saying, “Stop clinging to Me,” He gave as the reason for that the fact that He had not yet ascended unto His Father and their Father, unto His God and their God. The reason for this is manifest. When the high priest went in annually to offer sacrifices, making atonement for the sins of the children of Israel, it was not sufficient that the animal be slain. It was not enough that the blood should be caught, but the blood had to be taken and sprinkled on the mercy seat. Our Lord Jesus Christ had yielded up His spirit on the cross, having cried, “It is finished,” and then turning His face toward the Father, He said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” and with that He yielded up His spirit. That moment, His spirit took its flight into the heavens into the presence of God, His soul went down into Sheol, as the Old Testament expresses it, which was the place of the dead, that place being separated by a gulf from that of the unredeemed-a gulf which could not be crossed. See Luke 16:19-31. His body was taken by Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus and placed in the tomb.
Now, the spirit of our Lord returning to heaven was not the Lord as High Priest entering into the Holy of Holies. Our Lord could not do that until body, soul and spirit were reunited and the whole Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, entered in. The apostle Paul, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God, in writing to the Thessalonians in his first epistle, chapter 5 and verse 23, says, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Some commentators contend that the minute Jesus commended His spirit into the hands of His Father, He then and there took His blood and sprinkled it on the mercy seat. Others contend that when He ascended some forty days after His death, burial and resurrection, then it was that He sprinkled His blood on the mercy seat. But there is something between these two experiences-of His meeting with Mary and then with the women-that leads me to believe that this is the time in which that was done. Because His sacrifice was not completed, the atonement was not completed until He placed His blood on the mercy seat. To delay the placing of His blood on that mercy seat until the time of His ascension is to delay the completion of His atonement until that moment.
Consider carefully. As Mary comes unto Him, she grabs Him and Jesus says unto her, “Stop clinging to me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father, but go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father and to my God and to your God.” When Jesus says, “I have not yet ascended,” He means that “I-spirit, soul and body, the complete Jesus Christ-have not yet ascended to my Father,” which reveals unto us that He did not go as a complete being to put His blood on the altar at the moment of His death.
Now, when He appears unto the women and they grab Him by the feet and hold Him, there is no rebuke. He is now willing and ready for any and all who want to handle Him, to feel Him, to see that He is flesh and bones and not a ghost, not a spirit. He permits that to be done. I think we are driven to but one conclusion, and that is that between the time of His appearance to Mary when He forbade her to cling to Him, and the time when He appeared unto the women when He permitted it, that is the time that He ascended into the heavens and put His blood on the mercy seat.
Here in these two experiences we have His first two personal appearances. First, He appeared to Mary-she saw, touched, felt, handled His actual, literal, physical, visible body of flesh and bones. Second, a little later that same day He appeared unto a number of women, likewise permitting them to handle, to feel, to touch His body of flesh and bones. We will encounter that same experience on several occasions of our Lord’s appearances unto other of His disciples when He tells them, “Handle Me, feel Me and touch Me and see that it is I, and know that I, the Lord Jesus Christ, have risen from the dead in My body of flesh and bones.”
APPEARANCE UNTO PETER
After the women had appeared at the tomb, the angel spoke unto them as recorded in Mark 16:6, 7, “”. . . Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.” You will notice the admonition or glad tidings that the angel is sending through the women to Peter-a special word from the Lord to Peter that He will see him there by the sea of Galilee. We read in I Cor. 15:3-5 the apostle Paul’s description, explanation of the gospel of Christ, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen of Cephas. Here in this 15th chapter Paul gives evidence of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ by naming the ones to whom He appeared. Peter is the first. one that is here named.
In Mark 16:7 the Lord had sent a special word to Peter that He would meet him. Here in I Cor. 15 Paul says that He appeared unto Cephas, which is the other name of Peter. Then in Luke 24:33, 34, speaking of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus after the Lord had appeared unto them, “They rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.” These references make plain beyond any doubt that the Lord Himself appeared unto the apostle Peter, an individual appearance, and nothing more is recorded of that appearance than we have here. This appearance manifestly is a very private appearance and meeting between the Lord and Peter. It was of Peter that our Lord had said in John 1:42, “And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.” At the first meeting of our Lord with Peter He tells him that his name is Simon, which means vacillating, unstable and shifting. He says, “I am going to change your name to Cephas,” which is a rock, a solid foundation.
And our Lord changed him from Simon to Cephas, and all of these experiences were a part of the development and growth of this individual from the vacillating Simon to the solid-rock individual Cephas. He was headstrong and egotistical; and when our Lord had called attention to the fact that all of them would flee and forsake Him, Peter, with an air of braggadocio said, “No, Lord, not I; though all of them forsake Thee, yet not will I.” Then it was that the Lord reminded him that before the cock would crow he would deny Him thrice. Peter sinned grievously in bragging and boasting of what he would do, in the face of what our Lord had said that he would do. Having boasted of what he would do, Peter was forced to resort to human strength to carry out that boast that he would stand with the Lord, though all others forsook Him. And when that mad rabble came to seize the Lord Jesus Christ, Peter, to carry out his boast, took his sword and tried to slay the first one that he came to; but missing the head of the individual, the sword glances off the side and cut off the ear.
Here was given to Peter a lesson that you and I need to learn. When we begin to boast and to brag about what we are going to do for the Lord, we find ourselves ultimately forced to resort to human means, plans and methods to accomplish that of which we have been boasting. And that is what Peter did. But the Lord would not accept the service of Peter which was rendered in the energy of the flesh and neither will He receive any such service from you or me. Because the Lord would not accept it, Peter was miffed and began to pout and sulk, drawing back and following the Lord from afar. It was as if he were saying, “Since you will not receive my service, nor acknowledge it, and since you do not appreciate it, I will withdraw.” And he did so. He was not with the group that followed Jesus into the court and into the meeting of the Sanhedrin. He came on later and soon found himself with the enemy and warming himself by the enemy’s fire. Soon he was denying with an oath that he even knew the man (Jesus). He did not call Him by His Name, but simply said, “the man.” He did that which the Lord had said, he denied the Lord three times while in the presence of the Lord’s enemies. The pain that came to his heart and his whole being when the Lord, passing from one court to another, looked upon him! The piercing eye of our Lord searched his innermost being and revealed his deepest thoughts. Peter now saw his deep sin and had knowledge of the fact that Jesus knew of his sin. Then the cock crowed and Peter went out and wept bitterly.
Only the Lord knows the things that went through the heart of Peter in those days from the time that he denied our Lord until he ran to the tomb that morning and saw the undisturbed graveclothes and was convinced of the resurrection of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Peter knew not where the body was or what had become of it. The love, tenderness and compassion of the Lord is manifested in the special message to Peter, “You tell Peter.” I can well imagine Peter turning to the women again and saying, “Now, what was that you said? Did the angel actually callout my name alone? Did the Lord send word by the angels and you that He would see me there?” What joy and happiness came to the heart of Peter! Our Lord would restore him to previous fellowship.
The Lord had much work for him to do. Peter was the one who made that great confession when Jesus asked him, “Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?” Peter said, “Some say that Thou art John the Baptist, some say Thou art Elijah, others say that Thou art that prophet, some say that You are Jeremiah.” Then did Jesus pinpoint the question and make it very personal, saying, “Whom do ye say that I am?” Peter replied, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Then said Jesus, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona. Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto you but My Father which is in heaven, and I say 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.” Then it was that the Lord announced to Peter that He would deliver unto him the keys of the kingdom of the heavens.
You will note that He did not say He would deliver unto him the keys of heaven. And all jokes and stories pertaining to St. Peter’s being at the door of heaven and having the keys of heaven are not according to Scripture at all. It was the keys of the kingdom of the heavens that were delivered unto Peter; and he opened the kingdom of the heavens to the Jews on the day of Pentecost, to the Samaritans when he came down to Samaria where Philip had been preaching, and to the Gentiles when he went into the household of Cornelius with the glorious gospel of the grace of God.
Peter was the one who was going to do the great and mighty preaching on the day of Pentecost. Peter was the one through whom the Spirit of the Lord was going to write those remarkable epistles, I Peter and II Peter. Peter was the one who was going to be used of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to carry the gospel to the Gentiles. Because our Lord had a special and particular ministry for the apostle Peter, He gave this special revelation unto him. Somewhere between the time that the women made this announcement and before our Lord appeared unto the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, He had appeared unto Peter. I doubt not, and I am sure that neither do you doubt but that there was that broken-hearted confession from the mouth of Peter unto the Lord Jesus Christ when they met. And what a blessed experience it is when we can claim the precious promise that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
THE ASCENSION Please read Luke 24:45-53 and Acts 1:1.11.
Thus read the two accounts by Luke of the ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ up into heaven in His body of flesh and bones. The value and significance of the physical, bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is to be found in the fact that in order to be saved one must believe that God raised Him from the dead and that He ascended into heaven, He is present in heaven and is coming again from heaven in His body of flesh and bones. See Rom. 10:9; I John 4:1-3; 5:1. These articles on the resurrection appearances are for the specific purpose of giving out the glorious news of salvation by grace; and a belief in the coming and the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ in that body of flesh and bones is an essential, an integral part of the good news which, having been accepted, is life eternal to the one who receives it.
In these accounts the Lord takes the eleven disciples out to Bethany and on over to the mount and there He is speaking to them. He has appeared to them off and on during the course of the forty days between the resurrection and this moment and now He stretches out His hands over them to bless them-hands which still bear the marks of the nail wounds-and as He with outstretched arms and hands blesses them, He begins to ascend. That body of flesh and bones; that body which had walked the shores of Galilee; that body which had appeared unto them there at the sea when He greeted them early in the morning, having prepared breakfast for them; that body which came to the upper room where the ten were present, Thomas being absent; that same body which He challenged them to come and handle and feel and see that a ghost or a spirit did not have flesh and bones such as He had; that same body with which He ate fish and honey; that same body with which He appeared eight days later unto the eleven, Thomas being present; that same body which He asked, yea, commanded Thomas to come, handle, thrust his finger into the nail wound, and thrust his hand into the spear wound.
As He with outstretched hands in that body over them, around them, above them, begins to ascend, the disciples stand transfixed. They are witnessing with their own eyes a literal, physical, visible, tangible body ascending into the heavens. They watch. That body continues to ascend, going higher and higher and higher, and after awhile the Shekinah glory of the Lord God Almighty in a cloud envelopes that body. That body disappears from sight but the disciples stand, as it were, transfixed, continuing to gaze up into heaven. They had read of Enoch walking with God and disappearing into the heavens with God and his body never being found, though it was sought diligently. They had heard and read of Elijah being caught up into heaven in a whirlwind, attended by the horsemen and chariots of God, and how that Elisha had seen that body going up into heaven and of the ridicule that was heaped upon Elisha because he spoke of the actual, literal, physical ascension of Elijah into heaven. But here before their own eyes, they themselves had witnessed the ascension of a real, literal, physical body into the heavens. And they stand transfixed, gazing up into heaven.
God Almighty, looking upon them in tenderness and mercy, condescends to send from heaven two men dressed in white, and they come and stand by the disciples; and these two messengers from heaven say unto them, ‘Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus. . .” Note the name Jesus. Not Christ, not Christ Jesus, not Jesus Christ, but Jesus, the name that belongs to His body of flesh and bones, the name that has no significance or relationship to any other name such as Christ or Lord or God unless that body of flesh and bones is considered in relationship to that other name. This same Jesus-the One who was born of the virgin Mary; the One who grew in favor with God and man; the One who appeared in the temple at the age of twelve and confounded the doctors with His questions and answers; the One who went in and out among them, ministering unto them, teaching them, associating with them; the One whom they knew, the One whom they had seen and, as John testifies later on, the One whom they had handled themselves.
This same Jesus-the One who was so brutally beaten, bruised; the One who was nailed to the cross; the One who hung on that cross, suffering the excruciating pain and humiliation; this same Jesus, whose body was taken down from that cross, wrapped in myrrh and aloes and linen, a hundred pounds of it, by Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus; this same Jesus that was placed in that tomb, sealed and guarded according to Pilate’s instruction; this same Jesus which arose physically, literally, visibly; this same Jesus which had appeared some forty days with infallible proofs to His disciples that He had risen from the dead in that body of flesh and bones ‘I. . . this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner.” He is coming back just exactly as He went away. He went away in a body of flesh and bones, He is present in heaven today in that body of flesh and bones, and He is coming back in that same body just exactly like He went away into heaven in that body of flesh and bones. “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Consider the paradoxical state of so many today who deny that God Almighty in the Person of Jesus could ascend to heaven in His body of flesh and bones, and yet acclaim the feats of a Godless, Christless Russia who contends, along with our own scientists, that we shall take a man in his body of flesh and bones, put him in space, put him on the moon, put him out yonder in the stars-man claiming to be able to do that which they deny unto God Almighty. But praise God, we have the testimony of our Lord and our God that this same Jesus in His body of flesh and bones has been taken into and is present in heaven today and from those same heavens “this same Jesus shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” I want to shout with the apostle Paul, “But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first- fruits of them that slept.”
He that believeth that Jesus is the Christ and that God raised Him from the dead shall be saved.
APPEARANCE TO STEPHEN
A most pertinent question in regard to the resurrection of our Lord is this: Where is the body of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? . . . that body of flesh and bones, that body which He received from the virgin Mary, the body which has the name of Jesus, that body which is designated as the Son of Man. . . where is that body? Your answer to that question reveals whether or not you are a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ or whether you belong to those who deny that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. In I John 4:1-3 the importance of that question is seen in the fact that whosoever denies that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of the spirit of Antichrist. Whosoever confesses that Jesus is come in the flesh is of God.
In II John 7 we read, “For many deceivers are entered in the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” That is not a correct translation of that verse. You can check many of your modern translations; if you have access to the Greek or if you are acquainted with a Greek professor or a minister who has studied Greek, you will find that the literal translation is that “Whosoever confesses not that Jesus Christ is coming in the flesh. . .” This was written some sixty years more or less after His resurrection and ascension into heaven. Whoever denies that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh and is coming (again) in the flesh is a devil and an antichrist.
Unto three different individuals our Lord and Saviour revealed Himself in His body of flesh and bones after He ascended into heaven. Many think, in connection with I Cor. 15:50, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption,” that bodies of flesh and bones cannot enter into heaven; but the Spirit of the Lord specified “flesh and blood,” and not “flesh and bones.” Our Lord’s body was not corruptible; it was not subject to the processes of death and decay. This is true because His body was sinless. Though all our sins were put upon Him, He had no sin in Him.
In Acts 6, beginning with vs. 8 we read, “Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.” Vs. 10: “They were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, And set up false witnesses which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.”
As they brought Stephen before the council the high priest asked him to reply to those charges. Stephen’s reply in chapter 7 constitutes one of the great apologies of Scripture. And when I say “apologies,” I do not mean in the sense in which we use the word apology today; but the apology as delivered by Stephen then was a defense of the position which he held and of the truths which he spoke. You will study that at your leisure and God will bless you.
Now I want to bring you in the 7th chapter to the 55th verse: “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
That is the climax of the indictment, the charge and the defense of one of the first deacons of the church, Stephen. Standing before that Sanhedrin, that august and solemn body, he cried out with these words as he was looking steadfastly up into heaven. Being filled with the Spirit of God, seeing Jesus standing on the right hand of God, he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” He saw Jesus. The name Jesus means specifically Jehovah our Saviour. He was not called Jesus until He received His body of flesh, blood and bones from Mary; so that we know His name Jesus applies to His earthly body and is the name of His humiliation, His suffering and His sorrow. This is the name by which He was crucified. They set over His head the accusation written, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” The body which He received from Mary is to be His body throughout eternity; likewise the name Jesus will be applicable to Him, whether alone or in association with some of His other names throughout eternity. The name of Jesus is never used with adjectives. It is His name of humiliation and suffering, and adjectives are entirely out of place.
In Acts 2:36 we learn that God hath made this Jesus both Lord and Christ. And in Phil. 2:10, 11 we are told that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Christ and Lord. Stephen, looking up into heaven, saw Jesus. He saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. He saw that body of flesh and bones and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”
“Son of man” is the other name of His humiliation. And standing at the right hand of God, visible to Stephen through the opened heavens, was Jesus, the Son of man. He who arose from the dead in that body of flesh and bones now is in heaven in that body of flesh and bones at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for us; and in that same body He will return one day to call us to meet Him in the air.
Jesus in His body of flesh and bones is risen from the dead and has been seen in heaven by Stephen, our first of three witnesses who have seen Him since He ascended into heaven.
APPEARANCES TO PAUL
In our last article, discussing the physical appearances of our Lord after his resurrection, we called attention to His appearance unto Stephen, who saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God and cried out to the synagogue before whom he had given his defense, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”
In the 9th chapter of Acts we have the first appearance of our Lord to Saul of Tarsus. Acts 9:1-6: “And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest; it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
Here was the one at whose feet was laid the clothing of the ones who stoned Stephen. Here was one-this proud, young Pharisee-who, observing Stephen being stoned, heard Stephen say, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” I doubt if Saul of Tarsus ever forgot that moment or the angelic face of Stephen and the prayer which he prayed for him and for those who were guilty of stoning him to death. But Saul so hated this movement called “the way,” this movement we call Christianity, that he had thrown into prison all the Christians he could find in Jerusalem. Then knowing of the colony of Christians over at Damascus, he obtained authority from the high priest to go to Damascus into the synagogues, where he could look around. All he could find there who were walking in “this way,” who were believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, he could take, have them bound and brought back to Jerusalem to be thrown into prison and later executed.
As he was journeying along the way, drawing nigh unto Damascus, suddenly there shined round about him a light brighter than the dazzling sun reflected upon the sands at high noon. He fell to the earth, blinded by the brightness and glory of the One who was standing in front of him. This One standing in front of him spoke and said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” What a startling question! Saul knew this was some manifestation of deity, some theophany, some revelation of the Godhead. But what did this One mean by saying that Saul was persecuting Him? Saul was persecuting no one except those followers of the lowly Nazarene. And Saul replied, “Who art Thou, Lord? He knew this was One from heaven but not exactly who. And he said, “Lord, who art Thou?” And the Lord replied, “I am Jesus.”
Again I call your attention to the fact that He did not say, “I am Jesus Christ.” He did not say, “I am Christ Jesus.” He did not say, “I am the Lord.” He did not say, “I am the Prince of the house of David.” He simply said, “I am Jesus.” That name, the name Jesus, is the name of His physical, human body. He was standing there on the sand on the highway, in front of Saul of Tarsus. “I am Jesus.” Saul of Tarsus would not have been surprised if He had said, “I am the Lord.” He would not have been surprised if He had said, “I am from heaven.” Saul knew that; Saul believed in God; Saul believed in the resurrection; Saul believed in angels. But when this One said, “I am Jesus,” he who went out to slay remained to pray; he who went out cursing remained to be cursed; he who went out hating, casting into prison and executing, remained to be hated, thrown into prison and later on, executed.
Why the physical, the visible, the bodily revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ to Saul of Tarsus? At the meeting in the upper room the disciples, attempting to elect an apostle to take Judas’ place, called attention to one of the qualifications of an apostle: “One must be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection.” For one to be an apostle he must have seen the Lord Jesus Christ in His body of flesh and bones after He rose from the dead. And the Lord Jesus Christ was choosing, I think, His own apostle to take the place of Judas. In Gal. 1:1 the apostle Paul says, “Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man.” He was not chosen by men; he was not chosen by any man. A group of men did not get together and elect him to succeed Judas. He was chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead.
In my personal work among the lost, I have encountered more than one who told me that they had not accepted the Lord as Saviour because they were’ ‘waiting for the light.” When I inquired as to what light, they said it was the light comparable to that which was shown to Saul of Tarsus. I thank God I could tell them to cease to wait. Because no such light is coming. That revelation, that appearance, that light was vouchsafed to Saul of Tarsus because Jesus was choosing him to be an apostle, the Lord Jesus Christ had to appear unto him in His body of flesh and bones that Saul of Tarsus himself might see that body, thus fulfilling a prerequisite to apostleship.
In Gal. 1:11 we read concerning Saul of Tarsus, “I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached to me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it (by man), but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Jesus appeared unto Saul of Tarsus and taught him by word of mouth the gospel that he preached. That is the meaning and significance of the statements of Paul the apostle when he says, for instance, “This we say unto you by the word of the Lord. . .” Jesus came, no doubt, there in the Arabian desert-as Paul says in Gal. 1:17 when he speaks of his conversion: “Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia. . .” There are some two and a half years of Paul’s life unaccounted for. Many are the scholars who believe those two and a half years were spent out there in the Arabian desert with the Lord Jesus Christ. And one thing we do know-that the gospel which he preached was given to him by word of mouth as Jesus taught him, an apostle, even as He had taught the other apostles.
In the third place, in Acts 22:17, 18 we read, “It came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; And saw Him. . .” (saw Jesus in His body of flesh and bones) “. . . saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.” Paul did just that. Later on, he was arrested and thrown into prison and in Acts 23: 11 we read, “And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”
Four times the Lord appeared unto Saul of Tarsus, later known as Paul the apostle. On the road to Damascus the Lord came and stood in front of him, spoke unto him and gave him his orders, which at that time were to go into the city and wait until he would be told later on what to do. Then in the Arabian desert the Lord appeared unto Saul and taught him by word of mouth the gospel that he preached, even as He taught the other apostles. Then in the temple as Paul prayed, the Lord appeared unto him and told him to get out of there because they would not receive his testimony. And fourth, in prison in the middle of the night the Lord appeared unto him and told him, “Be of good cheer. Just as you have witnessed of Me in Jerusalem, so shall you yet bear a testimony to Me in Rome.”
Saul of Tarsus-Paul the beloved apostle-saw Jesus Christ in His body of flesh and bones on at least four different occasions. No wonder he could preach as he preached! Because he believed; and he believed because he had seen. I feel sure that the success of the ministry of the apostle Paul was due in a great deal to the personal, physical, visible appearances of our Lord unto him. Also the catching up into heaven of the apostle Paul, his seeing and hearing things of which he did not speak, ministered greatly to his faithfulness.
In John 20:29 Jesus saith unto Thomas, “Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Though we have not seen our Lord in His body of flesh and bones, yet believing in the resurrection when we were saved, according to Rom. 10:9, we know as certainly as did Paul that Christ did rise physically, and that ere long He shall return in the same manner. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
APPEARANCE TO JOHN ON THE ISLE OF PATMOS
In our past two studies we presented the manifestation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in His body of flesh and bones to Stephen, also to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, to Paul in the Arabian desert, again in the temple and then in the prison. We now want to consider the revelation of the Lord unto John the revelator on the island of Patmos.
In Rev. 1:9-20 we have the account of the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ unto John as Jesus came to the island of Patmos on which John was located. John tells us that he was in the island of Patmos for the specific purpose of obtaining, that is, getting the Word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ which is recorded in the book of Revelation. I differ with those who imagine John to have been exiled to the Isle of Patmos. The 9th verse seems to call attention to the fact that he went out there for the specific purpose of receiving the Revelation. In vs. 10 he says (translating literally), “I became in the spirit and was projected into the Lord’s day” (or, into the day of the Lord). That is the secret of the book of the Revelation. John had gone to the island of Patmos to receive this Revelation.
When the time came for him to receive the Revelation, in the Spirit he was projected into the day of the Lord. He heard a mighty voice behind him, a voice as of the sound of many waters; and this voice commanded him to write in a book the things which he would see and send the revelation to the seven churches designated. Then John turned to see who it was that was speaking to him. This One who was speaking to him was behind him. When this One appeared to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus He appeared in front of him; but here He appeared to the rear of John and when John turned and looked he saw first of all seven golden candlesticks, and in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks One like unto the Son of Man.
Here again we have the name of our Lord’s humanity. He is the Son of Man now on the earth with John; He is yonder in heaven the Son of Man with God the Father; He is coming back one day as the Son of Man to establish His kingdom. John saw Him like unto the Son of Man. He had on the priestly robes which reached to His feet but the girdle was around the breast rather than the waist, the difference being that the priest wore the girdle around his waist but the judge wore the girdle around his breast. So the Son of Man appears here as the Judge, His office as High Priest finished.
John continued to describe Him as he saw Him: head and hair white like wool, as white as snow; His eyes as a flame of fire; His feet like fine brass; His voice as the sound of many waters; in His right hand seven stars and out of His mouth a sharp two-edged sword. You will notice as Jesus was standing John saw the girdle about His breast; he saw His head, the hairs on His head; he saw His eyes and His feet, he heard the sound of His voice; he saw seven stars in His right hand and the sharp two-edged sword going out of His mouth. Those physical attributes could be only of One who was visible to John in His body of flesh and bones, for a spirit has not flesh and bones, a spirit would not have the head, the hair, the eyes, the mouth, feet and hands, such as this One had.
He was shining in His countenance as the sun, even as Saul of Tarsus saw on the road to Damascus. When Saul saw Him he fell prostrate in the dust, blinded. When John saw Him on the island of Patmos, he “fell at His feet as dead” and the Lord standing in front of John, laid His right hand upon him. One says, “Well, this is just a figure of speech. This body of His, His head and hair, His eyes like a flame of fire and His feet like fine brass, His voice and right hand, as well as the sword coming out of His mouth, are just figures of speech and not to be taken literally.” If that were the case, then the island of Patmos is figurative, John is figurative, the whole vision is figurative and the book itself is figurative and the result would be that we would end up with nothing. Do not join those who would phantomize God Almighty, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. There is one blessed and supreme fact concerning the Revelation of God as recorded in the Bible. This is a historical and documented account given by God to man. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are real.
Here we have the historical, literal account of the Son of God as the Son of Man on the island of Patmos with John, the beloved apostle, and His right hand resting upon John. And John felt His right hand, knew that it was His right hand and described it as His right hand. And He said to John, “Fear not. I am the first and the last. I am He that liveth. I became dead. . .” (rather than was dead). “I voluntarily offered up My life; no man could take it from Me. I became dead. Now I am alive forevermore.” The One who became dead is alive forevermore. That is the Lord Jesus Christ. The body of flesh and bones became dead, but that body of flesh and bones became alive forevermore. He is alive today. How we need to pray to God for childlike faith to believe the Word of God and accept it for what it is, the Word of God.
On the island of Patmos John saw Jesus; John saw the Son of Man. Jesus is the name of His humanity; Son of Man is the name of His humanity. Christ is the name of His deity. Today He is Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, the Son of God. Today He is the one Mediator between God and man, The Man Christ Jesus. After Jesus ascended into heaven in His body of flesh and bones, He revealed Himself in that body unto Stephen; four different times He revealed Himself unto Paul. Now we read of the revelation of Jesus in His body of flesh and bones to John on the island of Patmos.
The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh, dying for the sin of the world, rising again and ascending on high, from whence we look for Him.
“Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, 0 my people: and I will bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am Jehovah, when I have opened your graves, and caused you to come out of your graves. 0 my people! And I will put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I will place you in your own land: and ye shall know that I, Jehovah, have spoken it and performed it, said the Lord” (Ezek. 37:12-14).
Note here-the whole house of Israel-not the church, not Christians, not the New Testament saints-but the whole house of Israel-those Jews who died in the faith, those Jews who had not been cut off from among the people of Israel, will come out of their graves. Israel thinks of her departed loved ones as “dried up,” “hope lost,” “clean cut off.” They think that the promises to Abraham have failed, that neither he nor Isaac, nor Jacob, nor his descendants will possess the land promised to them.
But look! Their graves are to be opened. Allover the world this will be done. God will open every grave of every Old Testament saint who died in the faith and raise that Jew up from the dead. Do not phantomize this Scripture-do not try to explain it away, but read it and believe it. Look at God’s promise: “open your graves; cause you to come up out of your graves; when I have opened your graves, and caused you to come up out of your graves.” Here we have GRAVES in the plural four times, and it means resurrection from earthly graves, just as it says. The innumerable literal graves of deceased Jews or Israelites who died in the faith will be opened, for only they are reckoned to be Israel. Some expositors say that GRAVES mean the nations of the world whither the Jews have been scattered. If that is true then Matt. 27:52, 53 would have to mean, “The nations where many of the saints were living opened their doors and let the saints who lived there leave and return to Jerusalem from the nations where they lived after Christ arose from the dead and were seen by many who lived in Jerusalem.” But that is not what it says. It says, “And the GRAVES were opened and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the GRAVES after His resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared unto many.”
What God has promised to Israel is the RESURRECTION of all true Israelites, and He emphasizes it four times. Remember: GRAVES, GRAVES, GRAVES, GRAVES. That means individuals, the bodies of these Jews raised-earthly bodies going back to an earthly land, even Palestine, to be fed as an earthly people and to live as an earthly people. THE JEWS ARE GOD’S EARTHLY PEOPLE, even as the New Testa- ment saints are His heavenly people.
The New Testament saints will rise from their graves and the living will be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air. They will appear with Him in varying capacities, ruling or ruled, as the judgment seat of Christ will reveal, according to their works, (Luke 19:11-27). But the New Testament saints do not appear in the prophecies which concern the resurrection, regeneration and restoration of the nation of Israel, God’s chosen EARTHLY NATION.
God has promised resurrected and restored Israel many things:
1. To have them dwell securely in their own land (Ezek. 11:17-19; 28:25, 26; 34:25-28).
2. To cleanse them (Ezek. 37:23; 36:24-26).
3. To give them a new heart (Ezek. 36:26).
4. To give them a new spirit (Ezek. 36:26).
5. Cause them to walk in His statutes (Ezek. 36:27; 37:24b).
The land from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates was given to Abraham and HIS SEED for an everlasting possession (Gen. 15:18). God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham and HIS SEED that the land from the Nile River (the River of Egypt) was to be an everlasting possession (Gen. 17:7-8). For these promises to be fulfilled, Israel must be resurrected as an EARTHLY PEOPLE and be RESTORED TO AN EARTHLY LAND for an eternal possession. God confirmed this covenant with Isaac: “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee: for unto thee and unto they seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; and I will make they seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 26:3, 4). God confirmed this covenant with Jacob: “And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac; the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 28:13, 14). Note especially Gen. 35:9-12: “And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came from Padanaram, and blessed him. And God said unto him: thy name shall not be called anymore Jacob, but Israel shall be they name: and He called his name Israel. And God said unto him, I am God Almighty, be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; and the land which I gave unto Abraham and Isaac, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.”
Joseph had his brethren promise him that they would carry his bones with them when they left Egypt and returned to the land, saying, “God will surely visit you and bring you up out of this land unto the land which He sware to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.” The land was made for Israel and Israel was made for the land, and God will raise them up to possess that land as an earthly people in an earthly land. The Talmud of the Jews teaches that if a Jew dies in the Land of Israel he will be saved. If he dies out of the land he is to be buried with a wooden fork so that he may dig his way from the place of burial to the Land of Israel. If they but believed the Word of the Lord, they would know that salvation to them before Christ was by believing God (Rom. 4:1-3), and that no matter where they died and were buried, God will raise their bodies up and restore them to their land for an everlasting possession along with those who will be gathered out of the nations when Jesus returns.