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THE WATCHTOWER JANUARY 2014

Hope for the Dead—The Resurrection

Hope for the Dead—The Resurrection

Do you believe in the Bible’s promise of a resurrection? * The prospect of being reunited with our loved ones who have died is appealing, to say the least. But is it realistic to nourish such a hope? To help answer that, we do well to consider the example of the apostles of Jesus Christ.

The apostles firmly believed in the resurrection of the dead. Why? For at least two reasons. First, their hope was primarily based on this fact: Jesus himself had been raised from the dead. The apostles—and “more than 500 brothers at one time”—saw the resurrected Jesus. (1 Corinthians 15:6) Additionally, Jesus’ resurrection was widely attested to and accepted, as the four Gospels show.Matthew 27:62–28:20; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-53; John 20:1–21:25.

Second, the apostles had witnessed Jesus carry out at least three resurrections—first at Nain, then at Capernaum, and finally at Bethany. (Luke 7:11-17; 8:49-56; John 11:1-44) The last of those resurrections, described earlier in this issue, involved a family especially close to Jesus. Let us look further at what happened.

“I AM THE RESURRECTION”

“Your brother will rise.” Jesus spoke those words to Martha, whose brother, Lazarus, had been dead for four days. Martha did not at first understand the meaning of Jesus’ words. “I know he will rise,” she responded, but she thought that it would be at some time in the future. Imagine her surprise when after hearing Jesus say, “I am the resurrection and the life,” she saw Jesus raise her brother from the dead!John 11:23-25.

Where was Lazarus during the four days after his death? Lazarus said nothing to suggest that he had been alive somewhere else during those four days. No, Lazarus did not have an immortal soul that had gone to heaven. By resurrecting Lazarus, Jesus did not bring him back down to earth, dragging him away from enjoying heavenly bliss in a place near to God. So where was Lazarus during those four days? He was, in fact, asleep in the grave.Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10.

Remember, Jesus compared death to a sleep from which one is awakened by resurrection. The account reads: “‘Lazarus our friend has fallen asleep, but I am traveling there to awaken  him.’ The disciples then said to him: ‘Lord, if he is sleeping, he will get well.’ Jesus, however, had spoken about his death. But they imagined he was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly: ‘Lazarus has died.’” (John 11:11-14) By resurrecting Lazarus, Jesus gave him back his life and reunited him with his family. What a marvelous gift Jesus gave to that family!

The resurrections Jesus performed when on earth were a foregleam of what he will do in the future as King of God’s Kingdom. * During his rule over the earth, the heavenly Jesus will bring back to life those humans who are asleep in mankind’s common grave. That is why he said: “I am the resurrection.” Think of the happiness you will feel when you see your loved ones again! Think, too, of the joy that resurrected ones will experience!Luke 8:56.

Think of the happiness you will feel when you see your loved ones again!

FAITH FOR EVERLASTING LIFE

Jesus said to Martha: “The one who exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone who is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all.” (John 11:25, 26) Those whom Jesus resurrects during his thousand-year reign will have the prospect of living forever—as long as they truly put faith in him.

“The one who exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life.”John 11:25

After making those remarkable statements about the resurrection, Jesus asked Martha a soul-searching question: “‘Do you believe this?’ She said to him: ‘Yes, Lord, I have believed that you are the Christ, the Son of God.’” (John 11:26, 27) What about you—would you like to develop the kind of faith in the resurrection hope that Martha had? A first step is to take in knowledge of God’s purpose for humankind. (John 17:3; 1 Timothy 2:4) Such knowledge can lead to faith. Why not ask Jehovah’s Witnesses to show you what the Bible teaches about this subject? They will be happy to discuss with you the marvelous hope of the resurrection.

^ par. 2 See the article “Death Does Not End It All!” on page 6 of this issue.

^ par. 9 For more information about the Bible’s promise of a future resurrection, see chapter 7 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.