One of the unique qualities about Jesus Christ as a religious figure is that he prophesied his own death and resurrection.
Some examples of this can be found in the Gospel of Matthew, in Matthew 16:21; 17:22,23; and 20:17-19. Jesus prophesied to his Apostles that he would be condemned, handed over to the Gentiles, mocked, flogged, and crucified, and that he would rise from the dead:
17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!" (Matthew 20:17-19, NIV)
Jesus told his followers that he would die and be resurrected. Had he failed to be resurrected, his followers, obviously, would have had reason to conclude that he was a false prophet. And it would have been difficult, perhaps impossible, for Christianity to have continued as a movement in which its adherents evangelized about Jesus, and his resurrection, even at the risk of losing their own lives.
Each of the four Gospels describe the resurrection of Jesus: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20. And the resurrection is noted in other portions of the New Testament, including an example found in Acts 9. There, a man named Paul, who had been persecuting Christians, encountered Jesus years after the resurrection. Paul converted to Christianity, became an evangelist, and traveled thousands of miles by land and by sea to tell people about Jesus.
Christians believe in resurrection. Christians believe that people who have died will be resurrected when Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead. Their bodies will be restored to life and their souls will be reunited with their bodies.
The Old Testament of the Bible contains prophecies about resurrection. Some examples can be found in Daniel 12:1,2; Psalm 16:10; and in the book of Job:
25 I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes-I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27, NIV)
In Psalm 16, King David prophesied about the resurrection of Jesus:
8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:8-11, NIV)
The word decay in verse 10 refers to the decay of a body after death. Resurrection involves restoring a body to life and reuniting it with its soul.
Peter, who was one of the Apostles, said in the New Testament book of Acts, chapter 2, that David was speaking prophetically about the resurrection of Jesus:
31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. (Acts 2:31-32, NIV)
When Jesus was about to die on the cross, about 2,000 years ago, he committed his spirit into the hands of God the Father (Luke 23:46). His body was later placed in a tomb. But, God did not abandon him to the grave. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.
In John 11, Jesus announced that he is "the resurrection, and the life."
In this chapter in the book of John, Jesus is recorded as comforting a woman named Martha. Her brother, Lazarus, had died days earlier. Jesus told her that her brother would rise again:
23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."
24 Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
27 "Yes, Lord," she replied, "I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world." (John 11:23-27, NIV)
In verse 25, Jesus informs us that he is the resurrection and that believers who die will be resurrected to eternal life with God.
© Ray Konig | azbible.com
Next article: Prophecies fulfilled after the death and resurrection of Jesus