by John C. Whitcomb, Th.D
The Lord Jesus Christ, the second person of the triune God, who became the God-man by virtue of His virgin conception and incarnation, is the only human being in the universe who possesses a glorified body.
The raising of Lazarus from the dead was one of the most spectacular sign-miracles the Lord Jesus performed at His first coming. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Jews were astounded by what Jesus did that day in Bethany near Jerusalem. John tells us that “many of the Jews which … had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him” (John 11:45, KJV). In fact, “much people of the Jews knew that He was there (in Bethany): and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He had raised from the dead” (12:9).
But the leaders of Israel were terrified: “Then gathered the chief priests (i.e., the Sadducees) and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation” (11:47-48). So they not only “took counsel together for to put Him to death” (v. 53), but “the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus” (12:10-11).
What a statement of the spiritual blindness of sinful man! No one even questioned that Lazarus had actually died or that he was now actually alive. Why did not the leaders of Israel investigate the source of Jesus’ power and ponder His claims? The answer is infinitely tragic: “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (3:19).
Thus, “though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him” (12:37). However spectacular the raising of Lazarus really was, it could not compare to the glory of Christ’s resurrection. Lazarus was brought back to mortal life. He still possessed a sin nature and died a second time. This was true of all those who had been raised from the dead by Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24), Elisha (2 Kings 4:18-37), and the Lord Jesus (Matt. 11:5), and those who would be similarly be brought back from death by Peter (Acts 9:36-42) and Paul (20:7-12).
Observe carefully what happened when Lazarus was raised. First, the giant stone that blocked the entrance to his tomb had to be moved away so he could come out. Second, his grave clothes had to be removed so he could walk (John 11:39-44). This was not necessary for Jesus. The great stone that blocked the entrance of His tomb had been “taken away” (20:1), not to allow Him to come out but to allow Peter and John to enter in (vv. 3-8).
Likewise, the grave clothes that had been wrapped around His body were not removed by human hands. The apostle Peter entered the tomb first, “and seeth the linen cloths lie, and the napkin, that was about His head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.” Then the apostle John “went in also … and he saw, and believed” (vv. 6-8).
What does all of this mean? The conclusion is obvious: Jesus arose with a special kind of body, a glorified body, that could pass through grave clothes without disturbing their position and pass through a large stone without moving it. This is what John “saw,” and this is what he “believed” (v. eight). How can we be sure of this? The answer: that same evening, “when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and … showed unto them His hands and His side” (vv. 19-20). In His glorified state, He could pass right through a door without opening it! Neither tightly wrapped grave clothes, nor a huge stone, nor a closed door, could block His movements.
Thus, our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the realm of the dead to a new, glorious form of human existence. He was “the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20). In terms of His deity, He is “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Heb. 13:8). When He ascended to heaven, He did not leave His human nature behind, for “in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). He will be God and man (two distinct natures) in one Person—forever!
|Dr. John C. Whitcomb has been a professor of Old Testament and theology for more than 50 years and is widely recognized as a leading biblical scholar. He taught at Grace Theological Seminary (Winona Lake, IN) from 1951-1990 and gained much recognition for his work on The Genesis Flood (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company), which he co-authored with Dr. Henry Morris in 1961. That book has been credited as one of the major catalysts for the modern Biblical creationism movement. His ministry homepage is Whitcomb Ministries, and his sermons are available at SermonAudio.com.