The devil thought he had Jesus defeated. He had entered Judas and led him to betray Jesus to the authorities (Luke 22:3-4). He had hardened the hearts of the Sanhedrin, the elders of the Jews, so that they, out of jealousy, plotted to kill Him, and handed Him over to the Romans to be crucified (Luke 22:63-71). He had hardened the hearts of the crowd of Jews, so that they cried out “crucify Him!” when Pilate wanted to set Him free (Luke 23:20-24). He had ensured that Jesus died an excruciatingly painful and humiliating death (Luke 23:35-46).
Then God completely turned the tables! By His sovereign power, Jesus was raised from the dead! Jesus had set a precedent for this by raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:40-44). There were precedents in the ministries of Elijah (1 Kings 17:22-24) and Elisha (2 Kings 4:32-37; 2 Kings 13:20-21). Now Jesus Himself was raised:
Luk24:1-7 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them,[a] came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 7 saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’”
Luk24:36-43 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” 40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.
At His coming, all those who are His will be raised to eternal life:
1Cor15:20-23 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.
1Cor15:50-54 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 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 shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
The Bible is clear that all those who are His will be raised up to eternal life with God and Jesus. This includes His true followers who are living on earth at the time of His coming, and all those followers of God who have died in previous generations, including those who lived before Jesus’ time:
1Thes4:15-18 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
In New Testament times, it was customary if a great dignitary visited a city, a deputation of the citizens would meet him outside the city and accompany him into the city. It seems that something like that is happening here, because, though only the saints will meet Jesus in the air, everyone will be resurrected, both the wicked and the just:
John5:28-29.. for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
Daniel12:1-2 At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Everyone who is found written in the book.
2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
It is certainly a day to look forward to for the believer!
- Do you think the devil thought he had won the victory when Jesus was crucified? Why?
- What kind of similar things does the devil do today?
- How did God respond?
- Who was raised from the dead earlier than Jesus?
- How did the women feel when they found the tomb empty?
- What did the angels tell them?
- Why were the disciples afraid when Jesus visited them?
- How did Jesus show them it really was Him, come back to life?
- What does Paul (the writer of letter to the Corinthians) mean when he writes “Christ has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (died)?
- How will we be changed at the end of the age (at the last trumpet)?
- What will Jesus’ coming look like? Use your imagination!
- Who will meet Him first?
- How do we know that the righteous and the sinners will be raised from the dead at the same time?
- How will the two groups’ (righteous and wicked) experience be different?
- What book is spoken of in Daniel 12:1?
- How do you feel about the truths studied in this unit? If Jesus were to come today, would you be one of the ones greeting Him in the clouds?
- Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you can help someone realise these truths today.
Discuss as a group how you can help more people know these truths over the next week.