Jesus did not expect us to believe that He was the Son of God because He said He was. We must not forget that before and after Him, many religious leaders had and do make the same claim to fame. The problem is that the claims of such leaders are denied by the continued existence of their tombs that are marked with their names and presence with us today. But in reference to the claim of Jesus being the Son of God who created all things, His tomb was empty three days after His death, and thus His empty tomb will always be a testimony that what He claimed about Himself was true.
Because the tomb was empty, the Holy Spirit made a statement in Scripture through the hand of Paul that offered evidence that Jesus was more than a man. He was certainly more than a respected Jewish rabbi of His day. The following is thus an evidential statement: “His Son Jesus Christ, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh,” Paul wrote, was “declared to be the Son of God with power … by the resurrection from the dead” (Rm 1:3,4). There was a declaration that was made by the resurrection of Jesus. It was not that He became the Son of God by the resurrection. He was already the Son of God at the time of the resurrection. In other words, there would have been no resurrection if He were not the Son of God.
We must take into consideration with this statement of Paul what Jesus claimed throughout His ministry: “My Father loves Me because I lay down My life so that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it up again” (Jn 10:17,18). What else would we expect from the Son of God? We understand that Jesus had the authority (power) to take up His life (resurrection) after it was handed over to Joseph of Arimathea for burial after He was crucified (Jn 19:38). But the meaning of the resurrection of His body was more than just a resurrection. There was a declaration of something in the event that testified something greater than the event itself.
Keeping in mind that Jesus was the incarnate Son of the Godhead on earth, we must assume that something unique would be associated with the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus’ body defines the nature of every miracle throughout Jesus’ ministry that He worked in reference to physical bodies. There were many cases where Jesus “restored” to the natural function of life those who had some physical infirmity. But John used one particular bodily resurrection that illustrated that Jesus of Nazareth was God in the flesh, which was the proposition that John sought to affirm in recording seven principle miracles that Jesus worked throughout His ministry (See Jn 1:1,2,14).
A. Body regeneration:
At the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem there was a certain man “who had an infirmity thirty-eight years” (Jn 5:5). We are not told if he was born this way, or became a cripple from some unfortunate accident in his childhood. Regardless of the origin of his infirmity, this particular man had been laid by friends at the pool of Bethesda for some time. He was a physically paralyzed person who needed others to move him from one place to another throughout his life. Since he was regularly taken to the well-known pool of Bethesda, everyone in Jerusalem knew who he was and that he had been crippled for years.
And then on one opportune day, Jesus came by and said to him, “Do you want to be made whole?” (Jn 5:6). The question assumes that he was not whole, that is, there were functions about his body that did not operate naturally because there was something missing in his bones and muscles. Therefore, bone and muscle tissue that had to be changed, or possibly created, in order for him to be made whole. All this meant that he was not whole at the time Jesus met him. Something more was missing in his body that was needed in order for him to walk. So without any religious ceremonies, Jesus then said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk” (Jn 5:8). And he did.
In order for this man to do this, and if his body cells for walking did not already existed, creation of bones and muscle had to happen. If the body cells already existed, then at least the reforming of bones and muscles had to take place in order that the man walk. However, we can assume that Jesus did not simply stimulate the body function of preexistent body cells. There was more to the healing than the stimulation of muscles and straightening of bones in order that the body of the man function correctly. Creation could have been necessary in order that his body have the wholeness of all that was necessary for him to walk.
When the paralytics needed to be healed, there was not only the rejuvenation of the body cells that already existed, but the creation of all that was necessary in order to make the body function, including all the nerves that were involved in making muscles function. On the other hand, for the body to function properly, it could possibly have been a simple realignment, or readjustment of existing tissue. If so, then Jesus had to be the Creator who stood before those who would be healed.
Jesus was the Creator of those bodies that had been subjected to the physical environment of this world. He could thus manipulate all that which He created. He could move existing muscle, bones and tissue into proper order in order that the body function normally. Only the One who brought bodies into existence out of the dust of the earth could do such. If one would be a true believer in Jesus as the incarnation of the Creator on earth, then he or she must seriously consider these things (See Jn 1:1,2,14; Cl 1:16). Every miraculous work of Jesus throughout His ministry was evidence that He was the original source of all that existed.
When we speak of the resurrection, therefore, we are speaking of bringing back into life flesh that was previously in a state of death. If Jesus’ body was killed on a cross, which indeed it was, then there had to be supernatural power within the control of the Son of God even while He was outside His body. His supernatural power was not contingent on His living existence as Jesus of Nazareth. This was never the way it was throughout His ministry. When the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus at the time of His baptism, it was then that Jesus went forth with the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit (See Lk 4:14).
Jesus was put to death in the flesh on the cross (1 Pt 3:18). However, He was “made alive by the Spirit,” by which we would assume the work of God the Holy Spirit in the resurrection of the body of Jesus (1 Pt 3:18). In other statements it reads that He was raised by the Father (Ep 1:20). The resurrection miracle, therefore, was a cooperative effort on the part of the entire Godhead. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit worked as one in order to restore to life the body of Jesus that was in a tomb somewhere outside Jerusalem. Since the body was prepared on earth for the indwelling of the Son of God (See Hb 10:5), then the existence of the body did not determine the existence of God the Son.
While the incarnate body of God the Son was in the tomb, the Son of God in the spirit did not cease in His function to declare to all those who were dead that the gospel plan of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit had been accomplished. Therefore, God the Son vacated His body at the cross (Mt 27:50). He allowed His body to lie in the tomb for three days while He, in the spirit, went to accomplish other gospel business. During this time He went in the spirit “and proclaimed [preached] to the spirits in prison, who once were disobedient when the longsuffering of God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared” (1 Pt 3:19,20). In the spirit, the Son of God went and preached to those who were disobedient during Noah’s generation. He proclaimed to them what they actually missed out on by not listening to Noah, the preacher of righteousness.
B. Resurrection of Lazarus:
Prior to His own bodily resurrection, Jesus had to prove to the disciples that He had the power to do the same to His own body. Therefore, on His final trip to Jerusalem, the opportunity presented itself to do such to one name Lazarus. The events that led up to the resurrection of Lazarus are important.
Jesus was on His way for His final visit to Jerusalem. On the way, He informed His disciples that Lazarus had died (Jn 11:11). But Jesus informed His disciples of Lazarus’ death by using the word “sleep.” He said, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps” (Jn 11:11). So the disciples responded, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will recover [wake up]” (Jn 11:12). So Jesus informed them specifically that “Lazarus is dead” (Jn 11:14). Four days transpired between the time Jesus made the declaration to His disciples and the time He stood before the tomb of Lazarus (Jn 11:39). Therefore, there would be no question that Lazarus was truly dead.
What is important to notice in this bodily regeneration is what Jesus said to His disciples in response to their surprise that Lazarus was dead: “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there [when he was still alive], so that you may believe” (Jn 11:15). This seems to be an odd statement in reference to the death of Lazarus. If Lazarus were indeed dead, then something was up for the “sake” of the disciples. These disciples had accepted Jesus as the Messiah (Christ). By this time in the ministry of Jesus, Peter had already confessed that “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16). But none of the disciples really understood who Jesus was as God in the flesh. It seems that they were still trying to comprehend the twelve baskets full of leftovers. Who He really was was too surreal for the comprehension of human minds.
So on this occasion, Jesus was glad for the sake of the disciples that He was not present while Lazarus was still on his sickbed. He did not want this to be just another healing, for the disciples had experience healings throughout His ministry. He wanted this to be a biological rejuvenation to life of a dead body, a body that had been dead for four days (Jn 11:39). He wanted His disciples, and everyone in Jerusalem, to witness that He had the power to bring to life even a dead body that was already in the process of decay. There would thus be no speculation about the resurrection simply being a resuscitation.
This indeed would be a creation that was manifested in a resurrection, for the cells of the body of Lazarus had already broken down, and thus, were in a state of decay. His spirit has already returned to God (Hb 12:9). All the body of Lazarus was present in the tomb, but the One who said “Come forth!” had the power to bring into function again those decayed cells of a body that had already started the process of returning to the dust of the earth. Only God can do these things, and such was Jesus of Nazareth in the flesh at this moment in time. If we would be true believers, therefore, we must not consider this event to be a fairy tale.
These things were written that people believe that Jesus was the Son of God (Jn 20:30,31). Very few science gods believe these things because historical events as this are totally contrary to the scientific method of study. Scientists throughout the world today believe that all these things are fables that were compiled into a book that is called the Bible. Almost all biologists around the world view as fairy tales events of the Bethesda healing and the raising of Lazarus from the dead. What transpired in these events does not fit into their world view, or their scientific method of study. They deny that both Lazarus and Jesus were actually raised from the dead.
We live in a world where science has been enthroned in the minds of men to the point that every school textbook reeks of atheism, especially in reference to Jesus’ claim that He was the Son of God. Every school day of the week children around the world are taught that which is an argument against what John wrote in the Holy Spirit’s textbook in reference to the lame man and Lazarus.
If one would profess to be a Christian, and yet harbor the world view of those scientists who deny the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda and the resurrection of Lazarus, then he or she has plagiarized the name Christian. Some have done so because they seek to compromise the foundation of their belief in Christ with the atheistic world of science. Those who do such, and yet show up at an assembly of Christians, are working to change Christianity into a religion as those throughout the world who accept Jesus Christ only as a prolific religious leader of a sect of Jews in the first century.
If we understand how Satan works in the minds of those who are willing to give up a knowledge of the truth, then we should not be surprised at this (See 2 Th 2:10-12). This is simply the world in which we live where Satan goes about “as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pt 5:8). And in the case of the revelation of the supernatural through Jesus of Nazareth, he has done his work well.
[Next in series: June 6]