Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Miracles of Calvary: The Revivals to Life

Matthew 27:52-53 – “The tombs also were opened and many bodies of the saints who had gone to their rest were raised. And they came out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.”

There are two kinds of resurrections that take place in Scripture: revivals to life of the same body that died and resurrections of glorified bodies. Jesus is the only person who has had a resurrection of a glorified body.

Everyone else who has been raised from the dead has only been restored to a state of mortality. This includes:

  • The son of the widow of Zarephath (1 Kin. 17)
  • The Shunammite’s son (2 Kin. 4)
  • The resurrection caused by the bones of Elisha (2 Kin. 13)
  • The daughter of Jairus (Matt. 9)
  • The son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7)
  • Lazarus (John 11)
  • Tabitha (Acts 9)
  • Eutychus (Acts 20)

All of these people experienced a revival to life of their same natural body. And all of them died again.

But the resurrection of Jesus is different. He was given a glorified body--a body that could pass through matter or disappear in an instant.

The natural body of Jesus was the foundation to His glorified body. His glorified body is a body that supersedes physical restrictions. It is incorruptible, healthy, and perfect.

One day we, as believers in Christ, will receive the same kind of body Jesus has.

The revivals to life in the passage above were a sign of the certainty of our resurrection. They foretold a greater experiential reality. The revivals to life were not the resurrection from the dead, but a resurrection from the dead. They were just a shadow of things to come.

Phil. 3:21“He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body.”

1 Cor. 15:42-44 - “Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption; sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power; sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body.”

At every funeral, I read these words from 1 Cor. 15 at the cemetery: “We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. Because this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality. Now when this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Miracles of Calvary: The Undisturbed Grave Clothes

John 20:3-8 – Peter and the other disciple went out, heading for the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and got to the tomb first. Stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying there, yet he did not go in. Then, following him, Simon Peter came also. He entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. The wrapping that had been on His head was not lying with the linen cloths but was folded up in a separate place by itself. The other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, then entered the tomb, saw, and believed.

The pace of a story in the Bible is important. When a story slows down to point out details, it should cause you and I (the readers) to slow down and pay extra attention. As you read John’s account, it seems that almost that the entire story is built around the undisturbed grave clothes. Why are these clothes so important?

We get a clue when we see the reaction of John—the other disciple—in v. 8: “The other disciple…entered the tomb, saw, and believed.”

What was it that John believed, and what caused him to believe it? We must remember that the reason he and Peter went to the tomb was because Mary Magdalene told them that someone took the body of Jesus out of the tomb. But when John looked in, he didn't see evidence of a theft. Think about what he saw.

Luke’s Gospel says it this way: “When Peter stooped to look in, he saw only the linen cloths” (Luke 24:12; HCSB). What else should have been there? The body! But there was no body; only the cloths remained. And they remained in such a way as to suggest a body used to be in them. The inference here is that if the grave clothes still contained the body of Christ, they would be lying in precisely the position they were presently in.

So when John looked at the clothes and the Bible says he “saw and believed,” he knew that no one took the body of Jesus away. If an enemy of Jesus took His body, they wouldn’t have removed it from the clothes and then neatly arranged the clothes to make it look like He had risen. And if the friends of Jesus had taken His body, they would have kept His clothes on Him.

No one took the body of Jesus away. When John saw the arrangement of the grave clothes, he instantly believed that Jesus had risen from the dead. God had intervened! God had performed the greatest miracle of all time!

Furthermore, v. 7 tells us that the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head was “by itself.” It was not with the body clothes, but on the very spot where His head had rested.

His head cloth was “folded up.” In other words, it had not been manually unfolded, and none of the fastenings were undone. This means that the head cloth was not removed from the head; rather, the head had been removed from the cloth.

The linen clothes were there. The head cloth was there. Nothing had been undone. None of the folds had been disturbed. There was no change in their position. Everything was there...except the body.

When John saw the grave clothes, he knew that there was only one Person who could have got in that tomb. Not the Jews, not the Romans, not the disciples, but only God. Every other piece of evidence for the resurrection of Christ was outside the tomb, but the grave clothes were inside.

God Himself provided evidence for the resurrection of Christ. There should be no doubt in our hearts: Jesus is alive!

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Miracles of Calvary: The Stone Rolled Away

Matthew 28:1-6 says, “After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his robe was as white as snow. The guards were so shaken from fear of him that they became like dead men. But the angel told the women, ‘Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here! For He has been resurrected, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.”

Why was the stone rolled away? Was it so Jesus could get out of the tomb? No! Jesus was already out of the tomb!

Matthew tells us that the women who went to the tomb, along with the Roman soldiers, witnessed the angel rolling back the stone and sitting on it. The guards fainted, but the angel comforted the women by telling them, “He has been resurrected, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.” In other words, the angel was saying, “You won’t find Jesus in this grave. He was already gone when I got here.”

So why did the angel roll the stone away? It wasn’t for Jesus. It was for the disciples. The women weren’t going to be able to roll the 2-ton stone away. They needed help if they were going to witness the empty tomb.

What the stone rolled away means for you and me is that we can have a new life.

Just as God raised Jesus from the dead, God raises our spirits from the dead.

Jesus said, “Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me…has passed from death to life” (John 5:24; HCSB).

Colossians 2:13 (HCSB) – “When you were dead in trespasses…, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses.”

Romans 6:11 (HCSB) – “Consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
If you have not yet experienced the new life that is in Christ, you can turn to Him today. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to give you the gift of eternal life.

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