Do You Believe? The Resurrection and the Last Day
Do You Believe? The Resurrection and the Last Day by Julie McAllen
14 “If a man dies, will he live again?
All the days of my struggle I will wait
Until my change comes.
15 “You will call, and I will answer You;
You will long for the work of Your hands. (Job 14:14-15)
Many a person has pondered the question of “coming back to life” and there’s no shortage of answers from a variety of religions as to where the dead go.
Christians are familiar with the story of Lazarus and how the power to resurrect was in Jesus. After learning of his death, Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” (John 11:11)
We may take that for granted now, but at the time the Jews to whom this was spoken believed the dead would remain asleep until the Messiah came. Martha, the sister of Lazarus, had no doubt there would be a Messiah and a future resurrection but her expression, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” is a bit surprising. Did she believe that the very presence of Jesus would prevent her brother’s death? Remember, when Jesus first received news of his sickness, he intentionally waited so that he would not be present and Lazarus did die. And the reason Jesus gave for this delay?
“This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” (John 11:4)
Jesus was not present four days earlier when Lazarus was about to die, but now, in the presence of Martha he says, “Your brother will rise again.” (John 11:23) indicating it “would not end in death.”
Martha understood that the dead slept in Hades. No one had risen from the dead before but she was aware of the promises, and so from this premise Martha answered, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:24)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” (John 11:25-27)
Did Martha believe Jesus was the Christ? Yes. Did Martha believe in the promise of the resurrection? Yes. Then why did Jesus later have to ask, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)
Oh how we can relate to Martha! She had expressed such faith in the presence of her Lord saying, “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” (John 11:22)
“Even now” those are her own words. “Even now.”
And here is Jesus “even now” declaring to Martha “I am the resurrection,” but her gaze is still far off into a future time her people had known as “the last days.”
She knew God had spoken to the prophets of her people and even trusted His Son had come, but how surprising it must’ve been for Martha to accept that the last day was closer than she had imagined!
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Heb 1:1-2)
Martha knew that God had called Israel His chosen people. However, even they slept in death. But we learn from this same letter to the Hebrews, written about 62-64 AD, that Abraham, the father of Israel, believed God was preparing a heavenly city for him and other faithful ones even though they died in faith without receiving it.
13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. (Heb 11:13-16)
Jesus Christ spoke of this heavenly city when he told his followers, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:2-6)
That “coming again to receive” them was oh so near, for he had even promised, “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matt 16:28)
If she knew the account of Job and his question of “if a man dies, will he live again?” Martha may have pondered the meaning of his words,
“So man lies down and does not rise.
Until the heavens are no longer,
He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep.” (Job 14:12)
The resurrection would not occur until the passing of the heavens. But “even now” in Martha’s generation she was about to witness the glory of God to confirm this long-awaited promise of new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65-66).
Jesus had come to declare the blessings of his kingdom. One of which was this resurrection hope. Those present would not have to go to Hades at all but rather pass from death to life. And concerning the resurrection of those long asleep in the grave? The time was at hand for their release!
24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
25 Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. (John 5:24-29)
The resurrection of Lazarus was the demonstration of that transitional time period which Jesus spoke of as “coming and now is.” The generation living in ”the last days.”
Martha was correct in her understanding that the resurrection would occur “on the last day,” but I believe she was surprised to learn that she herself was living in the generation that would see all things fulfilled.
And “even now” Jesus is asking, “Do you believe?”
Some Christians believe that their dearly departed loved ones are not yet risen but like Martha thought 2,000 years ago, the dead are in a type of “soul sleep” awaiting a future resurrection. This view is valid for those who believe the “last day” has not yet come. I used to hold to this view myself. It’s also a valid view if you believe we are still under the old law covenant. But it is incompatible with scripture to maintain a belief that Abraham or our own departed loved ones are enjoying their heavenly reward now and yet say we are “in the last days” still awaiting the arrival of the new heavens and earth. Jesus validated Martha’s belief that the resurrection of the dead would happen “on the last day.” Usually when someone claims we are the generation of the last days, they point to a newspaper, but I find more evidence about the last days in my Bible. And the Bible clearly states that the resurrection of the dead would occur then. Based upon the consistency of God’s word, I believe the resurrection of the dead took place during the time that Jesus said it would, when all things were fulfilled after the passing of the old heavens – a term representative of the old law covenant.
17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matt 5:17-18)
I believe my Lord and Savior accomplished all that he came to do.
Do you believe?
Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie
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