“Whom God Raised Up”

These were Peter’s words which showed the futility of the wicked deeds the nation of Israel had committed against Jesus. Although he was a man whom God had shown He approved of to the nation through the signs He gave Him to work, they had, by wicked hands, crucified and slain Him (Acts 2:23).  His own people wanted to shut His mouth by killing Him, but then God gave His people an even greater sign: He raised His Son from the dead! His enemies, moved by Satan, the adversary of men, could not destroy the life of Jesus.

When Jesus began His public teaching and cleansed the temple from the defilements the priests had allowed it to fall into (John 2:13-17), a (perhaps) indignant group of Jews asked, “What sign showest thou unto us, seeing thou dost these things?” (John 2:18). Jesus’ response was, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). By this statement Jesus predicted His resurrection. This was Jesus’ sign to His nation and was frequently repeated to the people, although sometimes presented in a different form such as in the story of Jonah. Just as Jonah was in the whale’s belly for three days and nights and survived to witness to the people of Nineveh, so Jesus would be in the heart of the earth three days and nights and rise to give testimony of His eternal nature.

God’s resurrection of Jesus was His testimony that Jesus was His Son. Paul said that Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:3-4). Paul preached this truth to people of Antioch Pisidia when he said, “In that he raised up Jesus; even as it is written in the second psalm Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he had spoken on this wise, I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David. Because he saith also in another psalm, Thou wilt not give thy Holy One to see corruption” (Acts 13:33-35).

Peter’s testimony that God raised Jesus from the dead was further verified when he added, “This Jesus did God raise up whereof we all are witnesses” (Acts 2:32). Although Paul was not among the “whereof we all are witnesses” of which Peter had spoken, he could (and did) add his personal testimony that Christ had been raised from the dead. He wrote of various ones who had witnessed the resurrected Christ concluding, “And last of all as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also” (1 Corinthians 15:7).

Not only was Jesus’ resurrection God’s testimony that Jesus was His Son, it and His crucifixion were the means through which “He might bring to naught him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15). Through Christ’s crucifixion believers can be spared from the second death, the consequence of sin (Romans 6:23). Through the resurrection of Jesus believers can be saved from the fear that there is no escape from physical death.

Our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus is essential for us to secure forgiveness and enjoy eternal life with God. Jesus said to grieving Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26). No other message has more significance to sinful man than this: The resurrection of our physical body (“though he die, yet shall he live”) and the assurance that the spirit of man shall never be separated from God (“he that liveth and believeth on me shall never die”).

God raised His Son: “Having loosed the pangs of death because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Acts 2:24). When Jesus gave to John His revelation of things to come, he comforted the apostle by saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; and I was dead and behold I am alive forever more, and I have the keys of death and of hades” (Revelation 1:8). Jesus submitted Himself to death, allowing His Spirit to rest for three days in Paradise that He might experience perhaps the greatest trauma that man can experience. This meant that He ran the gauntlet of the sufferings of man.

But death could not hold him. He said, “I have the power to lay it down and I have power to take it again” (John 10:18). The life Jesus laid down brought about the death of His human frame. But He existed before He allowed Himself to be robbed with flesh, and that life could not be snuffed out by the death of His flesh. He had the keys of Hades and He opened the gates of Hades and came out of the grave on the first day of the week. He and the Father are one (John 10:30). The Father raised Jesus (Acts 2:24). The Son raised Himself (John 2:19). He is the Son of God!

Jim McDonald