The Life and Resurrection of Christ

“Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore.” The Rotherham translation reads, “Do not fear, I am the first and last living one, I became dead, and, lo, living am I unto the Ages of the Ages.” —Revelation 1:17,18

IN THE previous verses, John is describing the one whom he saw in the vision, and was overwhelmed with the unexpected appearance of his visitor. It is not surprising that John should have been troubled and fearful at the sight of one whose head and hair were white as snow, whose eyes were as a flame of fire, his countenance as the sun shining in his strength, his feet like hot brass in a fire, and his voice as of many waters. Seeing this, he became completely overpowered.

It is probable that the vision was designed to impress upon the mind of John, and indeed of all the followers of Christ Jesus, a sense of the majesty and glory of such a visitor, and thus to appreciate the authoritative character and the importance of the message John was to receive, which was to be sent to the particular churches mentioned by the voice.

The effect upon John was the same as with Daniel when he saw a heavenly messenger. Daniel said, “I was left alone, … and there remained no strength in me: … I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel, … thy words were heard, and I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days.”—Dan. 10:8-14

We may not have received visions, but have we not in silent and quiet prayer and meditation upon the Word, before the Lord, experienced a very deep sense of his nearness? Have we not at times been overwhelmed, and found ourselves, at first, making endless confessions of our faults and unfaithfulness, perhaps for days impressed with the sacredness of the occasion, always counting it a joy, and sometimes a milestone in our spiritual progress, inspiring us with greater urge and deeper sincerity to reach out for greater heights and depths of God’s love?

In our aloneness with God, the burden of our prayer and meditation may have been for wisdom, grace, or revealed truth, and we have returned to our daily responsibility of service for the Lord, strengthened in faith with greater confidence and bolder approach to our Heavenly Father because of the comfort, peace, and rest of faith attained, being fully assured that we have a High Priest who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, one who waits to sympathize and mercifully assist us in our need.

Aloneness with God for awhile is so satisfying, so wonderful. Isaac enjoyed the same privilege and joy. (Gen. 24:63) It is noticeable that this is mentioned as being just a short while before meeting his prospective bride. To ourselves his comforting assurance has come, “Fear not; … I am he that liveth,” the “everliving” one.

The Means of Instruction

We who claim to be pupils in the school of Christ can be wonderfully instructed in two ways. First, by being shown, through the Word, God’s greatness, majesty, and perfection. Secondly, we are taught in being shown by the Holy Spirit through the perfect law of liberty, our own weakness and imperfections.—James 3:2

The longer and more intently we look into the Word, the more we can discern our own blemishes and the less of others, and this will enable us to think less favorably of our achievements. Penetrating is the Word of God, “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) It is so much so that we might become thoroughly discouraged were it not for the Lord’s assurance that while he knows of our imperfections better than we, he is not regarding these, but covering them by allowing the merit of our dear Redeemer, as a robe of righteousness, to make us acceptable to him.

Romans 8:2 reads, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death,” and II Corinthians 5:21 reads, “For he hath made him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Therefore, as to John and Daniel in their embarrassment at the presence of the heavenly messenger, the Lord stretches forth his right hand to us and says, “Fear not!”

This gracious and loving gesture is evidently designed to give assurance and comfort with confidence. It was so with Peter when walking on the sea toward Jesus. When Peter’s faith began to fail, Jesus immediately stretched forth his hand and caught him, and said, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matt. 14:31) To John the Revelator, Jesus’ right hand was held forth to assure him, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore.”


This language would immediately identify the visitor in John’s sight as the Lord Jesus Christ, for to no other personage could these words apply. John, of course, knew that Christ had been crucified, and died, and he with others of the disciples shared the privilege, sixty years before, of being led out of Bethany after the resurrection, and of seeing Jesus carried up out of their sight into the clouds, and they worshipped him and returned again to Jerusalem.—Luke 24:51

To John it would be as real as if he had seen the Savior whom he had known in person, whom he had tenderly loved and faithfully served through those long years since he beheld the ascension; the one whom he had seen crucified and laid in the tomb, the one he knew to be the world’s Redeemer and Savior. Jesus was made for a time “a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9), “that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil.” (Heb. 2:14) John knew that Jesus had been raised from the dead by the power of the Father. “Death hath no more dominion over him, for in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God” (Rom. 6:9,10), and possessing all power over death and the grave, he will presently deliver all entombed therein.—John 5:28

John’s Testimony

The testimony of John concerning Jesus, as recorded in the Gospel, was that Jesus “was made 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, … and of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.”—John 1:14-16

To consider the life of Jesus is always inspiring to one’s faith. His devotion to his Father’s will, his obedience to his Father’s words, his readiness to sacrifice for others, his love for those who sought to know him, his compassion for the poor in spirit, his outstretched hand to the oppressed, his delight in righteousness, his abhorrence of hypocrisy, sin, and self-exaltation, were ever manifest in him.

All these qualities and virtues his followers are exhorted to copy and attain. Indeed, these are the important qualities every follower of Jesus should seek to possess. “Put on,” says Paul, “as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, [a heart which is motivated by mercy], kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.”—Col. 3:12

Warning for the Last Days

In these last days, the closing days of the Gospel Age, and the time of its harvest, Jesus said the influences abroad would be such that if it were possible they would “deceive the very elect.” (Matt. 24:24) With the increasing voices around us today, we do well to adopt as a first principle in all our reading and meditation the decision of the Apostle Paul in his letter to Corinth: “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”—I Cor. 2:2

All other voices today fade into insignificance before the great truth that to know God and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent is eternal life. (John 17:3) Let us ever seek to know Jesus as our personal Savior and Redeemer, our Lord and our Master, continuing to have him as our constant companion, friend, adviser; and God himself, our Creator, as our Heavenly Father, with all reverence and confidence.

To be conscious of an inner conviction, an unction or anointing from the Holy One, and to know it, is of tremendous value to one’s faith. (I John 2:20) It seals our union, our relationship with Christ Jesus; it gives peace and rest of faith. It is the Spirit of God within, which he delights to give in response to wholeheartedness for him.—Luke 11:13

There is a way for man to rise
    To that sublime abode—
An offering and a sacrifice,
    A Holy Spirit’s energies,
An Advocate with God!

The Apostle Paul warned the church at Colosse, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (Col. 2:8) Let us also be aware of ensnarement’s to our faith, and allow nothing to rob us of our warmth in Christ—zeal, fervor, and love for the Lord and his proven Word. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me,” said Jesus.—John 10:27

“In him was life: and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4) During the life of Jesus on earth as a perfect man, he was ever seeking to impart the light and understanding of God his Father. His words, his touch, his look, made manifest sin and selfishness, and also gave life and health and peace to the suppliants. It is still true. The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not, or, as some translations suggest, refuse to admit its spiritual illuminations. How aptly this applied to the chief priests and Pharisees in their prejudices concerning Jesus. They would have stoned and killed him, but his hour had not then come.

To the widow of Nain, Zachaeus, Jairus’ little girl, Nicodemus, and to the blind and sick, even to those possessed by demons, he gave comfort, encouragement, health, joy, peace, and life, with understanding. This was only a foretaste of what he will yet do for the willing and obedient of humanity in God’s due time.

While Jesus continued his ministry, word was brought that his friend Lazarus was dead. Knowing the hearts of men, Jesus realized his resurrection would mean two things. First, greater and more pronounced acceptance of himself as a prophet in Israel by the people generally; and secondly, increased bitter and cruel hatred from his enemies. Having always the purpose to honor his Father completely, and to strengthen the faith of his disciples, Jesus remained two days at Bethabara before starting off to comfort Mary and Martha in their sorrow at Bethany.

They waited hopefully for his return. As soon as Martha heard Jesus was on his way toward Bethany, she went forth to meet him, with the remark, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died,” and, Martha continued, “I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.” Jesus replied, “Thy brother shall rise again.” (John 11:20-23) Jesus had assured them time and again in his ministry to the people that all who accepted his Word and teaching, he would raise up at the last day.—John 6:39,40,44,54

Can we not discern the inquiry in Martha’s mind—but Jesus, had you come sooner, you would have prevented this loss, and now he is gone and buried, our hopes are shattered, our hearts broken! How like ourselves, how ready we are to fret or complain when the circumstances and conditions of life do not fit in with our conceptions and desires. It is so easy for us to bend earthward.

The impossible to them was no obstacle to their illustrious Friend. Jesus replied, “I am the resurrection, and the life.” In other words, wherever I am, there is life, and the power to give life. Without me, life and resurrection cannot be. “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: … believest thou this?”—John 11:25,26

When Mary came from the house to Jesus, he was greatly moved by her distress. He was touched with a feeling of their sorrow, distraction, and bereavement, their torn hearts, their crushed spirits, and seeing Mary weeping, Jesus “groaned in spirit, and was troubled.” In the Greek, the word groaned conveys the thought not only of deep sympathetic emotion, but also of indignation and righteous anger. “Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!” (John 11:33-36) Jesus was so moved with their sorrow, his whole being seemed to be emotionally affected by their anguish of heart.

Perhaps at this moment Jesus realized, as never before, the anguish of soul, the sorrow of heart, the bitterness of death, that had come to the human family through the great adversary of God; and, for six thousand years, thousands of millions have similarly suffered the horror of death through sin, for which the great adversary was largely responsible, but which Jesus had come to cancel and redeem by giving his life as a ransom. May we not think, on reflection, that this experience helped to seal the great purpose to finish the work his Father gave him to do? As his followers, we also need experiences to cement and seal our vows of faithfulness to receive the glorious privilege of sonship with our Lord.

Maybe, too, the holy angels, by seeing death, perceive more definitely and clearly the acuteness of human sin and sorrow, and consequently are helped to maintain more zealously their loyalty to their Creator, Jehovah God. The apostle tells us, “We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” (I Cor. 4:9) View the matter how we will, death is a cruel enemy to the human heart. Salve the sore as best we can, we cannot become accustomed to these breakups of home, home ties and loves, companionships and friendships.

The world is old with centuries,
    But not for these she bows her head.
Close to her heart the sorrow lies:
    She holds so many dead!

Jesus requested the stone to be removed. Martha exclaimed, “Master, Lazarus has been dead four days,” thinking, no doubt, that decomposition had set in. Jesus replied, “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” Then he prayed, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me”—and called Lazarus from the tomb, and he came forth alive. O, how very reassuring this must have been for Martha and Mary and all who believed that Jesus was the “resurrection and the life.” Brethren, may the Lord increase our faith as we meditate on these inspiring assurances!

About a week later, Jesus was hailed by the people who would have made him king, and who strewed their garments and palm branches in his way, shouting, “Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord,” fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. (Matt. 21:9) The Pharisees, meanwhile, exclaimed in their council, “Behold, the world is gone after him.” If we let him alone the Romans will take away our place and nation. “Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing?”—John 12:19

Now prejudice, hatred, murder, had decided the fate of their victim. Jesus, knowing that his hour had come, was willing to submit to their cruelty for our sakes. The hours of his work were marked out by signs which he alone could read. Every hour had its work, and every work its hour. To the people Jesus said, “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you. … While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be children of light.” (John 12:35,36) These were some of the last words to the gathered crowds.

Following this great event of popularity with the people, and while thousands from all parts were making their way to Jerusalem for the Passover feast, some Greek worshipers approaching Philip said, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” Again, Jesus, knowing of his crucifixion so close upon him, appears not to have received their introduction, but accepted it as a sign that his hour had come, that he, the Son of God, should be glorified, and therefore he said, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone [remains what it was, a corn of wheat undeveloped]: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be.”—John 12:21-26

This was evidently the farewell message of Jesus to his many followers and believers—apart from his disciples—his loving benediction for all accepting his final exhortation. “Now,” said Jesus, “is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name.” (John 12:27,28) His decision was made. “Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified, and will glorify again.” (John 12:28) Jesus then declared to those around him, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”—John 12:31,32

For the few remaining days left to Jesus, his particular thoughts and attention were sacred to his disciples. His sympathy for them, his counsel and comforting assurances must have drawn them together in love and understanding. “Having loved his own, … he loved them unto the end.”—John 13:1

There was the lesson in humility, both for his disciples and for himself. Jesus took a towel, girded himself, and rendered to his disciples the lowest form of service of that time. He was so conscious of greatness and dignity that he dared to be humble. And we, who are privileged to share the honor and dignity of sonship with him, have need to learn well that kingliness really is the power to bend and serve: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”—James 4:10

There was also the lesson of the vine and the branches, that vital lesson of dependence upon and unity with Christ, and of love for one another. And think of the comforting, transcending promise which has been an inspiration to every sincere disciple of the Master all down through the Gospel Age: “I go to prepare a place for you. … I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, ye may be also.”—John 14:2,3

Then came Jesus’ compassionate prayer for his disciples, for peace, unity, love, and enduring faith for them and for us: I pray “for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” (John 17:20) And then the final test: “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”—Matt. 26:39

The beautiful act of healing an enemy who had come to share in putting him to death, has been an astounding thought for all since who “consider Him.” When we are tempted to be resentful, to spite and to hate, let us recall our covenant annually resealed by partaking of his cup, and share his triumph, the triumph of persisting love that will not allow anything or anyone to turn it aside or quench it.

Then hate and prejudice triumphed, cruelty prevailed. His good name was taken away. He was considered a malefactor. His disciples fled. He was left alone until it seemed God had forsaken him, and from his lips came the cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Forsaken by God and man! When we have these moments of being forsaken, let us think of Jesus.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
    Look straight in his wonderful face.
The things of earth grow strangely dim
    In the light of his glory and grace.

Then in quiet confidence he prayed, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) “It is finished.” (John 19:30) He who lived was dead. The temple curtains were torn in two. The whole course of nature shuddered at the shock.

Now Jesus, having tasted death for every man, a tomb held him, but not for long, because as prophesied, and spoken by Peter, “It was not possible that he should be holden of it.” (Acts 2:24) God “hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (II Cor. 5:21) Jesus “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (I Tim. 2:6), and by this great sacrifice will yet release all mankind from sin and from death. The most glorious fact of human history was yet to be known and revealed.

Up from the grave he arose,
    With a mighty triumph o’er his foes,
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
    And he lives forever, with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

God by his mighty power raised Jesus from the dead (Eph. 1:19,20), “wherefore,” says the apostle, “he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”—Heb. 7:25

“Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (I Cor. 15:20) The past two thousand years have had as their purpose the calling out of a people for his name, resurrecting them from sin and unrighteousness to holiness and heavenly citizenship by his Holy Spirit and divine grace. For this purpose, the Gospel of the kingdom has been preached “in all the world for a witness.” (Matt. 24:14) The seed has been sown, the wheat developed, and now the harvest has come. (Rev. 14:15) The church, the bride of Christ, will soon have made herself ready to reign with Christ. (Rev. 20:4) Then the age-abiding prayer of every Christian, “Thy kingdom come,” will have been answered. “Behold, I am alive for evermore, … and have the keys of hell and of death,” said Jesus. (Rev. 1:18) Therefore he has the authority to unlock and release the millions of prisoners of hope who are waiting for “the manifestation of the sons of God.”—Rom. 8:19-21

John saw in his vision of the Lamb slain, all the angelic hosts ascribing to him, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and glory, and blessing … forever and ever.” (Rev. 5:12,13) This glorious time of blessing is approaching, when “the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”—John 5:25

“Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: … thy children shall come again [from the land of the enemy] to their own border.” (Jer. 31:16,17) “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” (Rev. 21:4) This is because of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus our Redeemer. He that liveth, and was dead, is alive forevermore.

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |