Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
It may come as a surprise to some that a person rising from the dead was a more common occurrence in Bible days than a deaf person being healed. We are given two specific instances of a deaf person receiving their hearing in the Bible and two references to the general fact that Christ did heal the deaf, but that is it. By contrast, there were nine specific references to people other than Jesus being raised from the dead thus far in time.
In 1 Kings 17, the son of the woman of Zarepath was raised to life by Elijah, who specifically prayed, “Lord, let this child’s soul come into him again.” In 2 Kings 4, the son of the great woman of Shunem was raised back to life by Elisha. In 2 Kings 13, we find perhaps the oddest resurrection of all, where a man had his dead body hastily dumped into the tomb of Elisha and then came back to life when his body came into contact with Elisha’s bones.
In Mark 5, Jesus was approached by a very prominent man, Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue. That account ended with Jesus raising the man’s twelve-year-old daughter back to life. In Matthew 27, an unspecified number of saints were raised back to life the moment Christ died. In Luke 7, we find Jesus coming across a funeral in the town of Nain, a funeral that he thoroughly disrupted by raising the boy back to life right in the midst of the processional to the graveyard. In John 11, the most famous of all resurrections except for that of Jesus himself took place, with Jesus publicly raising Lazarus back to life after he had been dead for four solid days.
In Acts 9, Peter raised Tabitha back to life. In Acts 20, we find the somewhat hilarious account of Eutychus, a man who was “preached to death.” Paul was apparently the poster child of a long-winded preacher, preaching until midnight until poor Eutychus fell out of the window in which he had been sitting and sleeping, three stories down to his death. I suppose it was only fair, then, that the man who preached him to death turned around and raised him back to life. Thanks, Paul.
Perhaps all of this and more was on Paul’s mind when he stood on trial before Agrippa and said, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?”
And yet, despite the fact that known resurrections were more common than the healing of the deaf, there was something about one particular resurrection that set it far, far apart from all others.
I am thinking, of course, about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
That this was no ordinary resurrection (if there could ever even be such a thing) is clearly spelled out in Romans 1:3-4, which says, “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:”
The resurrection of all others declared one thing about them; they had been dead and were now alive. The resurrection of Jesus declared that he was and is the Son of God. So what was it about his resurrection that was so radically different from all others?
To begin with, every other resurrection had a common denominator that Jesus did not have: a resurrector. The boy of Zarepath was raised by Elijah, the boy of Shunem and the unnamed man of 2 Kings 13 were raised by Elisha, Jairus’ daughter and the boy of Nain and Lazarus and the unnamed saints of Matthew 27 were raised by Jesus, Tabitha was raised by Peter, and Eutychus was raised by Paul. Jesus, on the other hand, raised back to life and walked out of the grave under His own power.
Another stark difference is that no one really cared about making sure that any of the other dead people raised stayed in the grave. But with Jesus, the chief priests and Pharisees approached Pilate, told him of Jesus’ promises to rise from the dead, and got him to set a watch of Roman soldiers to make sure that the body of Jesus stayed in that grave. And yet the only person in human history to have his body so guarded simply walked out alive anyway.
And then there is the fact that Jesus alone “called it.” In verses too numerous to fully list here, Jesus specifically promised to come out of the grave after three days. Again, the Pharisees knew and testified to this, telling Pilate in Matthew 27:63, “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.” Babe Ruth calling a home run shot somehow made history, despite the fact that he probably tried doing that repeatedly before he ever pulled it off. But Jesus called his own resurrection, called the date of it, and did it in spite of all of the powers that be trying to stop it.
Another stark difference is that Jesus never died again. In a way, you sort of have to feel sorry for people like Lazarus. Can you imagine the awkwardness as a few years later, everyone gathered around his bedside and didn’t really know what to say? “Hey, brother, all those nice things I said to you last time you were gasping for your last breath? Ditto.” All of the others raised back to life had to go through the whole dying thing again, but Jesus did not. He spent forty more days on earth giving instructions, tying up loose ends, and then ascended back into heaven in front of a large crowd of witnesses.
There simply is no real comparison.
We celebrate the permanently empty tomb of Jesus rather than the temporarily empty tombs of anyone else because his resurrection, unaided, predicted, fulfilled against all opposition, and permanent, testify to the fact that he was and is the Son of God and God the Son.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books and other resources are available by clicking the “Store” link above.
Feature photo by Pastor Stephen Cox