The word resurrection is mentioned 41 times in the New Testament. To be raised from the dead is mentioned numerous times by Jesus and by the apostles who preached the crucified and resurrected Christ.
Paul said to the Philippians, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” (Philippians 3:10 KJV).
What was the power of his resurrection? To know the power of his resurrection is to experience victory over death. Death is not the end for one who knows Christ as his personal Savior.
The crux of the Christian faith is the knowledge of the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection was the most fundamental message preached by the early church beginning on the Day of Pentecost.
In Peter’s mighty message that day, he said, “Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it (Acts 2:24 KJV).
It was not possible for the grave to hold Jesus — the Giver of Life could not be defeated by death. Humanity would have been doomed without any hope whatever if Jesus had not risen from the dead. Christ’s resurrection is a pledge to every believer that if we are true believers in him, because he has risen, we shall also arise.
Christ demonstrated “... God so loved the world” — even before He went to the cross — when he called Lazarus forth from the grave. The story of Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead encompasses many emotions: love, despair, hope, faith, disappointment, sorrow and joy.
Jesus was in the region of Jordan when the news came to him of Lazarus’ sickness. But instead of immediately leaving for Bethany, Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4 KJV).
There was no mistaking the fact that “Jesus loved Martha and Mary and their brother Lazarus.” Neither was there any doubt that He could heal Lazarus of any sickness. But He had a reason for delaying his journey to Bethany.
After two days, Jesus told his disciples that it was time to go into Judea. Knowing the feeling against Jesus there and the threats on His life, the disciples felt that it would be better not to go. Besides, if Lazarus was sleeping as Jesus stated, he must be getting well.
Jesus said simply, “He is dead.” What an utterly hopeless situation when looked on in the natural. But Jesus is the life — He is the resurrection and He knew exactly what He was doing.
Jesus had waited four days after the death of Lazarus to raise him. The Jews believed that the spirit of a person stayed with the body three days and after that, graves were sealed showing that the person had gone — there was no hope for revival. So there was no room for disbelief when Jesus called, “Lazarus, come forth.”
When we have no hope and are filled with disappointment and sorrows, that’s when Jesus can be all that we need. He said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).
A man was telling a minister how he would start a new religion, to which the minister replied, “First, you must be born of a virgin and when you reach manhood, fast 40 days and be tempted of the devil before you begin preaching. After that, work miracles — feed thousands, heal people and raise the dead to life. The next thing is to be arrested, tried, crucified, die on the cross and be buried. But the main thing is to arise from the dead and come from the grave. Then you will have your religion.”