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Foretold In The Lord's Ministry

On the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ rests the whole work of redemption. Every promise God has given relative to the believer's life to come, depends on this great fact. Paul wrote to the church of God in Corinth, "But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.... And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins... If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable" (1 Corinthians 15.13-19, A.V.). We purpose to look at the important statements made by the Lord Jesus in which He foretold His own resurrection from the dead.

During the silent years of our Lord's life, between the stirring

days Luke describes, when His anxious parents found Him in the temple with the doctors of the law "both hearing them, and asking them questions", and His baptism by John in Jordan, He was aware of the great mission for which He had come to earth. It is marvellous to realize that as He grew up, "a tender plant" under the eye of God His Father, from Boyhood to young Manhood, He knew as Man what He already knew as God the Son in the eternal bosom of the Father. This is a great mystery.

In Boyhood's holy days and in mature Manhood, as He kept long prayer watches and pored over the Sacred Writings, the Holy Spirit opened His sinless mind to see the path of service, obedience and sacrifice He was to tread. Hebrews 5.8 tells us, "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which he suffered".

David wrote, centuries before, that the Lord's consuming zeal for the house of God would make him virtually an outcast in His own home. "For Thy sake I have borne reproach: ... I am become a stranger unto My brethren, and an alien unto My mother's children. When I wept ... with fasting, that was to My reproach ... I became a proverb unto them. They that sit in the gate speak against Me" (Psalm 69.7-12). He was so totally different by the s9cial standards of those days that He was unacceptable even to His own relatives. The Lord Jesus was not afraid of anyone. He did not hesitate to speak out against the moral and religious evils of His time. Although He was marked for death by the rulers because He dared to expose their wickedness, He knew He was right, but He also knew that His death and resurrection would come only at the appointed time, and by a voluntary act in keeping with His Father's will. As He looked across the dark valley of His sufferings and death, He saw the power and glory of His resurrection. It was to Him as though the sun of that glorious day had already risen, to shed its eternal rays on His completed work (Hebrews 12.2). So He looked forward to the joy set before Him, prepared to lose to gain, to die to live, to suffer to reign. Unlike men who know nothing of tomorrow's events, Christ knew the time and occasion of every step Re would take.

The earliest reference made directly by Lord Jesus to His death and resurrection was shortly after His first miracle at the Cana wedding feast. He had just dealt with those traders in oxen and sheep and doves, and with the money-changers, who were making His Father's house a house of merchandise, and in answer to His astounded observers who asked about His authority to do these things, He said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2.19). He had already shown His creative authority in changing water into wine, and His corrective authority in cleansing the temple, and if the people did not understand these, they were certainly at a greater loss to know what He meant by His redemptive authority, veiled in those remarkable words, and He made them none the wiser. Even His disciples did not understand until after He was raised from the dead. It was not the time to speak about the supreme events towards which He was quickly moving, and the record indicates He eventually told only His disciples. He made another reference to His resurrection just prior to the raising of Lazarus, "No man taketh it (My life) from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father" (John 10.18).

Matthew 16.21, Mark 8.31, and Luke 9.22 all refer to the time when the Lord Jesus finally told His disciples that he would he killed, and "be raised the third day".

He now began to speak plainly about His coming death and resurrection. These coming events of such great moment were hidden from the rulers and the people, and revealed to His disciples. As these words first fell on the dull minds of the disciples, even they could not understand why the Man they had left all to follow should anticipate death at such an early age; and the rising from the dead was even a greater mystery (Mark 9.10). They rather looked for deliverance and an earthly kingdom, and to be awarded places of honour at His right hand.

Peter, in a well-meaning attempt to preserve His Master's life, dared to rebuke the Lord, saying "Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee" (Matthew 16.22). Peter said, in effect, "Save Thyself," or "Have mercy on Thyself", Christ saw Satan in Peter that day. What could be more appealing to physical senses than to avoid a collision with mortal suffering, for the Lord well knew the terrible sufferings He would endure! Satan used the over-protectiveness of Peter, who seemed to assume the role of the Lord's personal bodyguard on occasions, but our Lord quickly recognized it as a trap or stumbling-block, to turn Him aside from the experience of Calvary. The Lord's words must have seared the very soul of Peter that day, but the issues were

too vital to be trifled with. How solemn for Satan to be seen in a disciple, and yet how often it has been the case! Peter must often have thought of that day, when afterwards he stood out fearlessly and preached Jesus and the resurrection.

The Lord's path narrowed, as the crowds no longer followed Him, to touch Him or hear Him speak. He withdrew Himself and set a steadfast course to Jerusalem and Calvary. A noticeable change came over the Lord's countenance as He neared the time of His death and went with the disciples on what proved to be the last journey to Jerusalem. We read, "And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed: and as they followed, they were afraid". Here again the Lord confirmed the events of which He had spoken earlier. "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and into the scribes; and they shall condemn Him to death ... they shall mock Him, and shall scourge Him, and shall spit upon Him, and shall kill Him: and the third day He shall rise again" (Mark 10.32,24). He was a Man of singular purpose, nothing turned Him aside from the supreme objective of His life, to go through the experience of death and resurrection on which rests the vast plan of redemption.

The four Gospel writers make more than twenty references to the Lord's prediction of His own death and resurrection. His desire to have the disciples in full knowledge, if not the understanding, of these events, seems clearly to be linked with their call to apostleship and witnessing in after days. After He was raised from the dead, the things He had said to them were then clearly understood, and what power was theirs, in full possession of the fact of His resurrection: "and with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 4.33).

It is instructive to notice that three Gospel writers record immediately following His statement concerning His approaching death and resurrection, the words of Christ about disciples bearing their own cross and following Him (see Matthew 16.24,25; Mark 8.34.35; Luke 9.23,24), "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."

Those disciples who closely follow the Lord will have the mark of death and resurrection upon them: "Dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ". May it be so with each one of us!

It is obvious from the scriptures we have considered that neither the rulers nor the people knew the divine purpose behind the events surrounding the Crucifixion. Nor did they know that the body of this Man would be the first and only one in all history to lie in a tomb and be unaffected by the ravages of decay. Nor did anyone see in the darkness of that early morning a Figure suddenly move out from the shadows of death through sealed stone to the glorious path of resurrection. Yet its magnificent message has reached the four corners of the earth.

Up from the grave He arose,

With a mighty triumph o'er His foes;

He arose a Victor from the dark domain,

And He lives for ever with His saints to reign,

He arose!

Hallelujah! Christ arose!