We have several instances in the Bible of individuals who died and came back to life. In 1 Kings 17, we read about the widow of Zarephath. Her son stopped breathing and she sent for the prophet Elijah. 1 Kings 17:21-22 “And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to him.’ Then the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived.” In 2 Kings 4 we read of the son of the Shunammite woman who died. The prophet Elisha prayed to God, he laid on the child and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands and stretched himself out on the child and the flesh of the child grew warm and God returned him to life. In Mark 5 we read how Jairus had a daughter who died and Jesus raised her to life. In Luke 7 we read of a widow of Nain whose son died. Luke 7:14-15 “Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.” In John 11 we read about the death of Lazarus. Even though he had been dead for four days, Jesus gave him life. John 11:43b-44 “He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Loose him, and let him go.’” In each of these stories, a person died but was brought back to life again. However, I think it is safe to assume that each of these individuals eventually died again. Their gift of renewed life was only temporary.
Now consider Jesus. He died and arose again after three days and has now gone to be with the Father in Heaven. On the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter stood up and spoke about Jesus: Acts 2:23-24 “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” Jesus was resurrected, never to experience death again. In Athens, the apostle Paul stood up in the Areopagus and preached to the people there. He concluded by saying: Acts 17:30-32 “’Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.’ And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, ‘We will hear you again on this matter.’” Why did some mock? Because they had never witnessed the resurrection of a dead person; they thought that it was impossible. Why did others want to hear again about this matter? Perhaps they wanted to believe that there is life after death – that when one dies there is hope for more to come. I think this is a common desire by each of us. We want to know that there is more to our existence than our current earthly life.
The fact of the resurrection of Jesus is very important to us. 1 Corinthians 15:12-23 “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up — if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.“ If Christ is not risen, our faith is futile and we are still in our sins; we then have no hope of our resurrection and eternal life. But Christ is risen; our faith is not futile; our sins are forgiven; we have hope of our resurrection and of eternal life. God alone has the power of life and of resurrection. Rom 4:17b “God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” He proved that there is a resurrection by raising Jesus from the dead. Existence does not end at physical death; there is life after death.
Let us look again at Acts 17:30-31 “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Since there is a resurrection, God has appointed a day on which He will judge the world. Hebrews 9:27-28 “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” Since there will be a judgment after the resurrection, I encourage you to be prepared for judgement through God’s grace.
We are told about the resurrection in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 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. 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. 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. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” I encourage you to be comforted with these words about the resurrection.