Friday, May 06, 2016

Gospel of John, Part 4

Should the resurrection of Jesus be considered one of the "signs" of the Gospel? Why or why not? (This is not asking you if the resurrection is important to Christianity.)

John’s Gospel records seven of Jesus signs before His resurrection and one sign after His resurrection. These signs were displayed by Christ to manifest His glory, turn unbelief to belief,[1]  test faith,[2] and proclaim His deity.[3] John’s eight signs, however, were not the only ones Jesus performed. Surpassing even these miraculous signs was Christ’s resurrection: a miracle demonstrating His power over His own physical body and over the sting of death.[4] The resurrection should be considered one of the signs of the Gospels because it also accomplished the same results as the other signs.

In the resurrection, Christ manifested His glory by demonstrating that He had power over death.[5] Satan thought He had conquered Christ by slaying His human body, but just as God had promised hundreds of years before, Christ would crush the Serpent’s head by His resurrection.[6] After His resurrection, Christ’s glory was displayed even more fully in His ascension to the right hand of the Father.[7]

The resurrection was one of Christ’s signs to turn unbelief to belief. Though Jesus had often spoken of His death and resurrection to His disciples, they didn’t not understand it nor grasp the full meaning until His ascension. The resurrection was meant to bring about ultimate saving faith in those who would believe.[8] The disciples did eventually believe. The women who followed Jesus believed. The centurion at the cross believed. The thief crucified with Christ believed. Countless others also followed the Savior and many gave their lives because of this one sign. The other eight signs recorded by John were meant to bring about faith in a Person. The resurrection was a sign of that Person meant to confirm faith.

The resurrection tested the faith of Christ’s followers. Mary, blinded by her emotions, had her faith tested when the “gardener” spoke to her. Peter’s faith was tested through his denial. The disciples were tested in the Garden of Gethsemane and during the three days and nights after the crucifixion. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus were tested by Jesus Himself when He scolded them for not remembering the words of the Old Testament Prophets. Thomas faith was tested when he saw the Lord’s pierced hands and side. The resurrection was the one great sign that tested faith to the utmost, determining whether a person’s faith would stand or fall. Many had believed in Jesus previous signs and wonders, but the sign of the resurrection laid the foundation for saving faith. Without saving faith, there is no salvation, forgiveness from sins, or eternity with Christ.[9]

The resurrection, like Jesus previous signs, also proclaimed Jesus’ deity. Only the Giver of Life could break the chains of death and work a physical and spiritual miracle in raising Himself from the grave. No other had done this, and no others would. In raising Himself from the dead, Christ demonstrated His equality with the Father, for God is the Author of Life.[10]

The resurrection was Christ’s greatest sign to believers and unbelievers alike, that Jesus is the Christ.[11] Those who believe today don’t have the blessing of seeing Christ’s physical miracles. Though John and the other Gospel authors recorded the miracles of Christ, our faith today rests completely on what Christ has already done and in our faith in the miracles that others witnessed. Thomas had the advantage of seeing in order that he might believe, but we are blessed because we haven’t seen, yet we believe.[12] The resurrection was also written that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that in believing we might have life through His name.[13] The resurrection stands in the past, present, and future as the greatest sign of the Bible.[14]

[1] Elmer Towns, The Gospel of John, 208.
[2] Merill Chapin Tenney, Topics from the Gospel of John, 157.
[3] John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, John 1-11, 83.
[4] 1 Corinthians 15:54-55.
[5] 1 Corinthians 15:26-27.
[6] Genesis 3:15.
[7] Philippians 2:9-11.
[8] Merill Chapin Tenney, Topics from the Gospel of John, 158.
[9] Leon Morris, Jesus is the Christ, 186.
[10] John 2:18-22.
[11] John MacArthur,  The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, John 12-21, 386
[12] John 20:24-29.
[13] John 20:31.
[14] 1 Corinthians 15:1-20.

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