The resurrection of the dead sounds like something that we would see in some creepy movie. We’ve heard of zombies. Zombies are supposedly the living dead. They are the closest thing to the resurrection of the dead. I suppose zombies are Hollywood’s twist on the resurrection. Because we don’t observe people rising from the dead the resurrection of the dead is a hard concept for us to grasp. That’s why Hollywood has put its own interpretation on the subject.
Jesus’ disciples had a hard time with the teaching of the resurrection. Jesus told them on numerous occasions that He would die and then rise from the dead. Most of the time they thought He was using figurative language. They didn’t believe Jesus was referring to a literal, bodily rising from the dead. But He was. And He proved that He was when He actually rose from the dead on the third day.
The teaching of the resurrection of the dead shouldn’t have been a strange teaching to the disciples because in our text from the prophet Daniel the resurrection is mentioned. And the Book of Daniel, written about 550 years before Jesus’ birth, was in the Bibles of the disciples at that time. The resurrection was a teaching that the people of the Old Testament were familiar with.
Often times, modern biblical scholars will say that the teaching of the resurrection from the dead is a New Testament teaching. It wasn’t a well-known teaching in the Old Testament. But I beg to differ. The entire chapter 12 of Daniel is really about the resurrection. Moreover, Daniel isn’t the only Old Testament prophet to mention this teaching. So the teaching of the resurrection was a teaching that people in the Old Testament had been acquainted with. Jesus’ teaching of the resurrection wasn’t something entirely new and novel. It’s just that He put more emphasis on it.
Jesus knew fully well that without the resurrection our faith would be futile. If we won’t rise from the dead, what’s the point of obeying and following Jesus then? Our faith rests on the fact of the resurrection. That’s why it is revealed in both the Old and New Testaments.
This brings me to us. If we don’t believe in the resurrection, then we might as well pack up and go home. There is no point in living for Jesus if we are going to die and remain in the grave. There is nothing to be gained. Even the apostle Paul understood this. In chapter 15 of I Corinthians he says that we Christians are most to be pitied if there is no resurrection of the dead. What is there to live for if there is no resurrection? What’s the point of following Jesus? There is none if the resurrection isn’t a reality.
The prophet Daniel teaches us that the resurrection is a reality. He says that on the Last Day everyone will rise from the dead, both believers and unbelievers alike. Believers will rise to live in God’s kingdom, while unbelievers will rise only to suffer eternal torment. That’s what is going to happen.
In the Book of Revelation John says all humanity will be raised from the dead and will stand before the Great Judge. Those whose names are not written in the Book of Life will be cast away from God’s presence forever. Those whose names are found in the Book of Life will live forever. The resurrection is a reality.
I don’t know about you but the teaching of the resurrection brings me great joy. Life has meaning for me. There is a reason for our existence, namely to serve God and be rewarded in the end with eternal life.
If everyone in the world today believed in the resurrection, we wouldn’t have all the troubles we do today. If unbelievers believed that they were accountable to God and lived decent lives, they wouldn’t create the hell for others on this earth that they often times do. But they act the way they do because they don’t believe they will stand before God on the Last Day. In other words, they don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead.
But God has given us hope of a glorious future and life with Him forever. Much happiness awaits us on the day we rise from the dead. This happiness will never be extinguished. We will be happy forever. Can we imagine that? Now we experience ups and downs. One moment we’re happy; in the next moment we’re sad. Our emotions are all over the place. It’s impossible to predict if we’ll be sad or happy next week. We don’t know. But that won’t be the case when we live with Jesus. We will always be happy. That will never change. I certainly want to experience that. I get tired of the disappointments and sadness in this life. I’m looking forward to the day when Jesus will change all that.
We will never die again once we are raised from the dead. Death is so much a part of this life. Everywhere we turn, there it is. But that is going to come to an end. We will be with the people we love forever. In this life death causes separation. We can’t remain with those we love. A time comes when death takes us away. But when Jesus raises us from the dead, we will never again encounter the separation we do at the death of someone near to us.
Jesus’ disciples experienced despair at the death of Jesus. They certainly didn’t want the authorities to kill Him. They wanted Jesus to stay with them. They had really come to love Him. But then He was taken away from them. He was nailed to a cross and buried in a tomb. The disciples thought this was it. Jesus was gone for good. That created so much uncertainty in their lives. They didn’t know what tomorrow would bring. They didn’t know what would happen to them. As a matter of fact, they were so afraid that they locked themselves in a room.
But then a miraculous thing happened. Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them. The joy they had before Jesus had died was rekindled in them. They rejoiced that Jesus was alive. They were happy once again. They began to understand that the resurrection from the dead was real. Jesus had meant a physical, bodily resurrection from the dead when He taught them about the resurrection.
We will rise as well. The prophet Daniel tells us in our text that all people will rise from the dead on the Last Day. So we don’t need to despair when we see death around us. A glorious day awaits us when death will be destroyed forever.
I hope that this teaching will give us the encouragement we need to keep on going in life and hang in there to the end. We all need that in life. We all need something to look forward to. Well, the resurrection is that something we can look forward to.
You see, our Christian faith in Jesus and our hope in the resurrection from the dead aren’t useless things. They are valuable to us now in this life. They keep us going. They give us the strength to live another day. So never think that all of this talk about the Last Day and the resurrection of the dead is meaningless. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our belief in the resurrection gives us happiness which can never be taken from us.
I pray that the teaching of the resurrection will give us all great comfort. Life is real good at knocking us down, at rubbing our faces in the dirt. At times, it seems that nothing will change. But let the teaching of the resurrection raise you up from the ground so that you may face life another day in expectation of Jesus’ coming again to raise the dead from the grave and gather us all in His kingdom.
May we rejoice in God’s promise that we will be raised from the dead and live with Him forever in never-ending happiness.