Have you heard that old hymn Because He lives? Part of it is this: Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives all fear is gone...
Of course we know that it is speaking of Jesus, but what exactly does it mean? What difference does it make? What does the fact that Jesus is alive have to do with us facing tomorrow and having no fear?
First lets look at what it means that Jesus is alive. We know that He was and is God, and as such was always a spirit being. We also know that He came to earth born of a human mother. He became flesh and blood. John 1:14 (NIV) The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. We also know that Jesus physically died: John 19:33-34 (NIV) 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.
We know that Jesus' spirit did not cease to exist. In fact we know where He was when His body was in the tomb: Ephesians 4:7-10 (NIV) 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." 9 (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) The Jews believed Hades was divided into two compartments. This concept can be seen in the story Jesus told of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16 starting in verse 19. One compartment was called paradise and that was were the people in the Old Testament who believed God would send a Redeemer went when they died. It was also called Abraham's bosom.
This compartment would have been the holding place for the believers who were waiting for Christ to atone for their sins. I believe that is why it says that when Jesus ascended He led captives in His train. I believe that He took those Old Testament saints with Him to heaven. Jesus told the thief on the cross: Luke 23:43 (NIV) Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." This shows us that Jesus Himself went to paradise.
The second compartment in Hades was where the unbelievers went when they died. This can also be seen in the story Jesus told in Luke 16 about Lazarus and the rich man. Some scholars believe that Jesus preached the gospel to all those in Hades while He was there. Not to make converts, but to proclaim His victory over Satan and death.
So we see that Jesus' body was dead but His spirit was alive. Yet this is not what the Bible means when it says that Jesus is alive today. We know that on the third day after His death Jesus arose from the dead. But again what does that mean? Does it mean that He took on a physical form to appear to His disciples or does it mean more then that?
It means much more than that. We know that angels have taken on human form to speak to people in the Old Testament, but this is not what is being spoken of in reference to Jesus. The disciples at first did not believe that Jesus had risen physically from the dead. Luke 24:36-43 (NIV) 36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." 37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence. Notice that He ate food and He allowed them to touch His body. He had a physical body that they could touch, but not just any physical body. He told them to look at His hands and feet so they could see the nail prints. Later when He appeared to Thomas, He told him to feel the holes in this hands and feet and His side. Notice also above that Jesus makes the statement, "It is I myself!" This was the same Jesus that they had walked with for three years.
So what does any of this have to do with us? Since Jesus died for our sins and our sins are what caused us to be sentenced to death, who cares if He rose from the dead or not? That is the attitude of a lot of people. If Jesus opened the door to heaven who cares if we are spirits or have physical bodies. The reasons go much deeper then that. I will try to address them in order.
We know that we must have a new (resurrected) body to go to heaven: 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 (NIV) 50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed--52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." Why can't flesh and blood (our physical bodies that we now have) inherit the kingdom of God? I think the reason is because our flesh is corrupt.
When God created Adam and Eve and saw that His creation was good, but after they sinned God placed a curse on all of creation. We are not the beings God created us to be. He did not create us to suffer with disease, to have birth defects and all the other things which come with the curse on creation. As Paul says our flesh is perishable, we all know this, we see death all around us. God will change us in a moment to imperishable by giving us perfect bodies like the ones He created for Adam and Eve before the fall.
Secondly, when Adam and Eve sinned they brought death into creation. Death is called an enemy of God: 1 Corinthians 15:26-28 (NIV) 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. Death comes through our physical bodies, so to destroy death God will give us a body which will never feel death. He will give us eternal life.
Another reason that Jesus' resurrection is so critical to our faith is that our entire faith rests on whether is physically arose from the dead or not. 1 Corinthians 15:12-25 (NIV) 12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. If Jesus did not rise from the dead then death is still reigning and has not been defeated.
So we know our whole salvation rests on the fact that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead, but what about us. We know that our present bodies won't be able to go to heaven and we read where Paul said that not all of us would sleep (or die) but we would all be changed. What does that mean? It means that we will all get new resurrected bodies. Bodies which will by physical bodies just like Jesus' resurrected body. Bodies which will be able to enjoy the pleasures of God's creation. Or the torment of His wrath.
See all humans who have ever lived will receive a resurrected body. Jesus tells us what happens in this verse: Matthew 25:46 (NIV) "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." You must remember that none of us is righteous on our own, but we are credited the righteousness of Christ when we accept Him as our Savior. Speaking of Jesus, Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote: 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Those who do not have the righteousness of Christ as a covering will be sent to eternal punishment. Those who do have Christ's righteousness will go to live with Him eternally.
One of the best promises of a physical resurrection body found in the Bible is this one: Job 19:25-27 (NIV) I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! We know that Job was talking about a resurrected physical body, because he states his earthly flesh would be destroyed, yet he would see God in his own flesh with his own eyes. What a wonderful promise for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. My heart yearns within me for this day also.
This wonderful promise turns into a terrible omen for those who die without Christ. See, I believe the resurrected bodies of the Saints and those of the non-believers will be exactly alike. Both will have the capacity to enjoy the wonders of God's creation. This will make punishment that much worse for those who are sent to hell, because they will be capable of enjoying the good things, but will never have the opportunity to do so. On the other hand I believe that the resurrected bodies of the Saints will have the capacity to feel pain and sorrow, but all that will do is make eternal life that much sweeter because although they are capable of those feelings and emotions they won't ever experience them. Jesus will take care of that for us: Revelation 21:4 (NIV) He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
Another promise of resurrection is found in Jesus' words when the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection tried to test Him: Mark 12:24-27 (NIV) 24 Jesus replied, "Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25 When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 26 Now about the dead rising--have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!"Our God is not the God of the dead but of the living!!
If our God is the God of the living, if we will one day see our Savior with our own eyes even though this body has gone back to the dust from which it came, what have we to fear? Isn't the greatest fear of us all the fear of death? What can tomorrow hold that God cannot handle? Because Jesus lives we can face tomorrow, because Jesus lives we should not fear.
If you don't know the Jesus who is all powerful; who loves you enough to take your burden of sin and to die for you; the Jesus who holds tomorrow; who reigns now in heaven, then you owe it to yourself to search for Him. He gave you a promise too: Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV) You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.
|911 - God's Help Line||Articles||Apologetics||Book Reviews|
|Contemplating Suicide?||Discipleship||Eternal Security||How to know Jesus|
|Help for the Cutter||In Memory||Marine Bloodstripes||Police Humor|
|Police Memorial||SiteMap||Statement of Faith||Testimonies|
|Thoughts to Ponder||True Life Stories||Vet's Memorial||Why I Have a Page|