John 2: 16-22
Romans 6: 1-5
Ephesians 1: 16, 17, 19-23; 2: 1, 4-7
It will be evident that I have in mind these three references to the Lord’s resurrection. In John 2 the setting is that “the passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem” (v 13); and He found conditions of trading in the temple, which He calls “a house of merchandise”. He quotes from Psalm 69, “For the zeal of thy house hath devoured me, and the reproaches of them that reproach thee have fallen upon me”, v 9. That is what He brings forward. If you read Psalm 69, you will find it is a sorrow Psalm. The Lord is feeling things, but it leads to a disclosure. They question Him, “What sign shewest thou to us?”, but He had already declared Himself as the Son of God in saying, “make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise”. The Jews were opposed to Christ right from the outset of John’s gospel. In answer to their question He says, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”, referring to the temple of His body. Herod’s temple was empty. There was a shrine but there was no divine dwelling there. I do not know what was within the shrine because the ark was lost and never came back after the captivity.
The divine presence was not in Herod’s temple, but it was present in Christ’s body, and the disciples took note of it. What convinced them as to the verity of it was His resurrection. This blessed Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, was God manifest in flesh and He had the power to raise Himself from among the dead. He says to Martha in chapter 11, “I am the resurrection and the life”, v 25. Life, as we have often been taught, was inherent in Christ. It is intended to have a result in us, to grasp hold of the fact that Jesus has lain in death. That body lay in death and He had the power to raise His own body, and He did. “When therefore he was raised from among the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.” That is a good result. That is not just Psalm 69, but I believe it is the whole of Scripture, so that they grasped hold of the truth of Christ having raised His own body. It does not speak in this scripture of any other results or what sprung from that death. That is another side of things. Here He raised His own body from among the dead and they “believed the scripture”. The whole of Scripture was quickened to them; it became living. “And the word which Jesus had spoken”, so that there is not only the Scripture, what is written, but there is present communication, “the word which Jesus had spoken”. So we, as believers having the Holy Spirit, have communication with that blessed Man who is now in glory, and we are helped to see the living character of the Scripture. It is borne testimony to by the fact that the One who said, “The zeal of thy house devours me”, and brought Himself forward as the Son of God, that blessed Man, was shown to be God Himself in the temple of His body. What a thing it is that the flesh of Christ veiled the Deity. Man cannot look on the Deity; it dwells in “unapproachable light” (1 Tim 6: 16), but here was the Deity present amongst men and, as the thorn bush burned, they were not consumed, Exodus 3: 2. But there were persons who remembered. It is good to be such persons who remember what the Lord Jesus says, and to grasp hold of the fact that Scripture is indicted by divine Persons. It is a living book to the believer; and then there is “the word which Jesus had spoken”, and that word is still available.
I would desire to be careful in what I say because it is a very precious subject and a very holy subject. Romans 6 brings out another side of the resurrection of Christ. Believers are being addressed. “By the disobedience of the one man the many have been constituted sinners, so also by the obedience of the one the many will be constituted righteous”, chap 5: 19. That is the apostle speaking to persons who have righteousness, righteousness not of their own, but righteousness as given of God on account of the work of Christ, “righteousness of God … towards all, and upon all those who believe”, Rom 3: 22. Paul begins this epistle as “God’s glad tidings ... concerning his Son ... marked out Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by resurrection of the dead”, chap 1: 1 - 4. His own resurrection was proof of that.
What I wanted to speak about was this precious matter: “as Christ has been raised up from among the dead by the glory of the Father”. That is a beautiful reference to Christ’s preciousness to the Father. “Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I have found my delight” (Mark 1: 11) at the Jordan, at His baptism. Then the preciousness of Christ at the mount of transfiguration: “This is my beloved son: hear him”, Mark 9: 7. And then the Father was without Christ in manhood for three days and three nights. His spirit was with the Father, precious matter that is too. Here the Father is coming in relation to the resurrection of this blessed Man. Christ had glorified God on the earth. He glorified Him, filled out all that was desired of man, and He had gone into death; that precious work had been completed, and persons had been saved. But this scripture lets us into the secret. The Father’s desire was that that Man should live again, that He should have that blessed Man again, His Christ. It was not possible that He should see corruption, Ps 16: 10. The Father waited, in His patience, these three days and three nights to fill out the matter of scripture. “He was buried; and ... he was raised the third day, according to the scriptures, 1 Cor 15: 4. But He was “raised … by the glory of the Father”. All that the Father represented in affection, everything that was expressed in the Father, demanded that Christ should be raised. He raised Him from among the dead. What delight He had in the selection of that blessed Man!
The previous scripture I read had the effect on persons after His resurrection. Here is another scripture: “raised up from among the dead by the glory of the Father”, the Father’s delight. Paul shows us that God is going to have pleasure in others also following on Christ’s resurrection. Christ does not remain on the earth. Here it does not tell us that, but it is assured to us. Paul tells us that in the next scripture. It is Christ in resurrection in this epistle, but for us as the believers it is Christ not only in resurrection, but also it is Christ in glory, Man in heaven.
O the sight in heaven is glorious!
Man in righteousness is there;
Once the victim, now victorious
That is the light that shines for us. There is a Man in heaven, but there are believers on the earth, and we come into that as believers on the earth. We are believers on the earth. We are not raised with Christ in this section, not viewed that way. He is raised; He is glorified as a blessed Man in heaven; and the Spirit is given so that we have a link with that Man in heaven; but we are to “walk in newness of life”. That is the Christian walk. That is the walk of victory, supported by the Spirit, a link with a Man in heaven that we can take account of there, and “walk in newness of life”. What a joy to the Father, not only to have Christ “raised up from among the dead” by His glory, but to have saints here walking “in newness of life”, responsible persons. You and I are responsible persons in the flesh and blood condition and yet walking “in newness of life”, a new tread, a new way of life. It is really a new creature, but it is presented in this way from the responsible side: “we also should walk in newness of life. For if we are become identified with him in the likeness of his death, so also we shall be of his resurrection”. We are walking here in the light of a Man in heaven and there is a tread, a firmness. We could say, with our knowledge, that our eyes are on the goal. We are walking here with an objective from the Red Sea to the Jordan and anticipating going over it too. Heaven is before the saints. In the wilderness in Exodus, the people turned towards the wilderness and saw the glory, chap 16: 10. That is an attraction. Here we are in the wilderness. Christ is in glory, but we turn towards the wilderness and see the glory. The glory for us is there in a blessed Man in heaven. I say these words to encourage us to see how the glory of the Father so appreciated Christ that He raised Him and then He commends Him to us. He has that Man in heaven, but He has men here below responsibly in the scene where Christ once was, walking as He walked.
In Ephesians 1 Paul’s prayer is that we should understand something of “the might of his strength”. “The surpassing greatness of his power” is God’s power. It is “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory”. It is that blessed Person. What a Personage He is! Consider “the surpassing greatness of his power towards us who believe, according to the working of the might of his strength, in which he wrought in the Christ in raising him from among the dead”. It is to have an effect on “us who believe” as we grasp hold of the fact that this power “which he wrought in the Christ” is towards us. It is a most expressive scripture to me that God worked according to “the might of his strength, in which he wrought in the Christ” bringing Christ out from among the dead. What a working there was! I cannot say much about it but I would like to leave the impression on our hearts that divine might was expressed there, “the might of his strength”, as if there was a power there that would have, if it could have, prevented the resurrection of Christ, but Christ could not be holden of death, and divine energy was expended in raising Him from the dead: “in which he wrought in the Christ in raising him from among the dead”.
And then He exalts Him. Here it tells us He is not to remain on the earth. He is to be exalted and He is exalted. “He set him down at his right hand in the heavenlies”, the Father’s delight is in having Christ at His right hand in the heavenlies. But what is most attractive here is that He is not going to be there alone. We are raised with Him. That is what the second chapter brings out: “and you, being dead in your offences and sins … but God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love wherewith he loved us, (we too being dead in offences,)” - that is Jew and Greek he is speaking about - “has quickened us with the Christ”. When God exercised His power in bringing Christ out from among the dead, we are viewed as coming out with Him. We are quickened with Him. It does not exactly say Christ was quickened, but the suggestion is there; but Christ is made to live, and there He is in the divine presence, but He is not alone. God has in this setting brought us out from among the dead too, “dead in your offences and sins”, not an iota of response from us to God at all: “you, being dead in your offences and sins”. We are not viewed as being responsibly active; we are viewed as “being dead in … offences and sins”; but God’s mercy came in. What a thing, dear brethren: “but God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love wherewith he loved us”. That is a remarkable thing. It comes to mind that it relates to a company that is chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, Eph 1: 4, but viewed here, in this setting, as “dead in your offences and sins”, but made to live and live in another manner: “has quickened us with the Christ” - made to live with Christ and - “raised us up together”. That is not resurrection; that is elevation: “and has made us sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, that he might display in the coming ages the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus”. God is going to display that. We are not in heavenly places actually yet. We know something of it in spirit, but Christ is there, and we have been quickened with Him. We are made to live in the life of another Man by divine power, to take account of the fact that we are Christians, and have been made to live by God’s operations within us. It is the divine action, the divine power and divine will. It says there, “For ye are saved by grace, through faith; and this not of yourselves; it is God’s gift”. Faith is viewed here as God’s gift; grace has operated; love has taken the form of grace operating in us to bring us into association with Christ as alive from among the dead, but raised and seated in heavenly places. So here you get a view that our destiny is heaven, heavenly places. We touch something of it in the service of God. That is where we are going to be actually. We belong to a heavenly family. What a power, what a working! He raised Christ from among the dead “by the might of his strength”, but “the might of his strength” has operated in us as “dead in … offences and sins” to make us live and live to God.
I trust these few thoughts might enlarge our hearts and give us an appreciation of these aspects of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
12th January 2010