Over the past 15 days in this devotional, we have been reading John’s Gospel, seeing 7 miraculous signs and 7 Messianic sayings that argue that Jesus is God. At Christmas we celebrate Jesus’ birth – His arrival on the earth as the God/Man. That first Christmas began a 33 year exhibition, witnessed by thousands of eye witnesses in real time, and recorded for all time by four Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) so that we might know what happened. John writes His Gospel arranging certain key facts from Jesus’ life to demonstrate that Jesus is really God. As John 20:31 says, “ … but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” It DOES take faith for us to believe that Jesus is God (no question) … but it is not a blind leap of faith. Jesus provides evidence as to His identity, and based on that, invites us to believe in His name.
Jesus didn’t have to do it this way. He was under no obligation to provide evidence to us of His divinity, but He did. In His grace, He reaches out to us and invites us to believe in Him. Of all His signs and sayings, though, there is one piece of evidence that stands above them all. That is why each of the Gospels ends with this “closing argument” – the definitive evidence of His resurrection.
I was once talking with a non-Christian friend about Jesus. The topic landed on Jesus’ resurrection. My friend asked me, “Mark, what makes Jesus’ resurrection so special? After all, several people have been resurrected. That does not make THEM God? Why is Jesus any different?” Of course my friend was partly right. There are several biblical accounts of resurrections. In our study these past two weeks, we looked at the resurrection of Lazarus, but there were others … the widow’s son in Nain (Luke 7) and Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5) to name two. Even in the Old Testament, there were resurrections’ performed by Elijah and Elisha on the widow’s son in Zarepheth (1 Kings 17) and the Shunammite woman’s son (2 Kings 4). Additionally there are other resurrections in the book of Acts performed by Peter and Paul (in Acts 9 and 20). So what DOES make Jesus’ resurrection different?
Well, first of all, it is different because Jesus “called His shot” before it ever happened. Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus saying that He would be crucified, and then would be raised again on the third day (Matthew 20:19 is a good example of this). Unlike the other resurrections (that were surprises to those resurrected), Jesus knew what was coming and talked about it often. This demonstrates something unique about Jesus’ resurrection and speaks to His omniscience – something only God could have.
Second, Jesus’ resurrection is different because it happened without the agency of another person. Of course, in the case in Nain, and with Jairus’ daughter and with Lazarus, Jesus Himself is the One performing the resurrection. But in the other cases (both Old and New Testament) God used another to be the conduit for the resurrection (Peter, Paul, Elijah, or Elisha). In the case of Jesus, God raised Him through the work of the Spirit alone … without human intervention. This highlights the uniqueness of this event, and draws our attention to the omnipotent power of God.
Third, Jesus’ resurrection is different because (once raised), Jesus walked about in a glorified body, and never died again. The others that were resurrected (Lazarus, etc.) came back in a healed version of their same old body, that would continue to age and deteriorate until one day they would die again. To say it another way, Lazarus was raised to new life in John 11, but he later had a second funeral, as he died of another cause some years later. Jesus (on the other hand) rose to a gloried body, and ascended to heaven, never to die again! So the KIND of resurrection experienced by Jesus is of a different quality, and reveals His identity as the First Born from the dead!
So, we have seen that Jesus is God, and have surveyed how the Apostle John details to us His divinity through miraculous signs and Messianic sayings … culminating in His resurrection from the dead. John records these for us SO THAT we might believe in Him SO THAT we might have life in His name. How about you? In light of the evidence, do you believe?
Over the next two weeks, we will look at the events surrounding Jesus’ birth to see what we can learn when God came to be with us – Immanuel.
This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.” You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.