“He was raised up.”
1, 2. (a) What did some religious leaders want to know, and how did Peter respond? (See opening picture.) (b) Why was Peter able to speak with courage?
A FEW weeks after Jesus’ death, the apostle Peter faced a group of terrifying Jewish religious leaders. These were the same men who had plotted to kill Jesus. Now they were angry with Peter because he had healed a man who had been unable to walk. They asked Peter: “By what power or in whose name did you do this?” Peter courageously answered: “In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you executed on a stake but whom God raised up from the dead, by means of him this man stands here healthy in front of you.”
2 Earlier, Peter was so afraid that he denied Jesus three times. (Mark 14:66-72) Now, instead of being fearful, Peter was courageous in front of the religious leaders. Why? In addition to having the help of the holy spirit, Peter was confident that Jesus was alive. Why was the apostle so sure? And why can we have the same confidence?
3, 4. (a) What resurrections happened before Jesus’ apostles were born? (b) Whom did Jesus resurrect?
3 The apostles knew that the dead could live again. Before the apostles were born, God had given the prophets Elijah and Elisha the authority to resurrect the dead. (1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:32-37) A dead man even came to life when his body was thrown into a grave and it touched the bones of Elisha. (2 Kings 13:20, 21) Early Christians believed these accounts, just as we believe that God’s Word is true.
We are deeply touched when we read about Jesus’ bringing the dead back to life
4 Likely, you are deeply touched when you read about Jesus’ bringing the dead back to life. For example, imagine the great surprise of the widow when Jesus resurrected her only son. (Luke 7:11-15) Or think about the time Jesus resurrected a young girl. Certainly her parents’ deep sadness turned to joy when they saw their daughter alive! (Luke 8:49-56) And how thrilled people must have been to see Lazarus walk out of his tomb alive!
WHY JESUS’ RESURRECTION WAS UNIQUE
5. How was Jesus’ resurrection different from those before it?
5 The apostles knew that Jesus’ resurrection was different from all others before it. People who were resurrected earlier were given human bodies but later died again. Jesus was given a spirit body that can never be destroyed. (Read Acts 13:34.) Peter wrote that Jesus “was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” Also, “he is at God’s right hand, for he went to heaven, and angels and authorities and powers were made subject to him.” (1 Peter 3:18-22) Other resurrections were outstanding miracles, but Jesus’ resurrection was the greatest miracle ever.
6. How did the resurrection of Jesus affect his disciples?
6 Jesus’ resurrection affected the disciples deeply. He was no longer dead, as his enemies believed. Instead, he was alive as a powerful spirit person, and no human could harm him. His resurrection proved that he was the Son of God. Because they knew that Jesus was alive, the disciples were no longer sad or afraid. Rather, they were enthusiastic and confident. If Jesus had not been resurrected, God’s purpose would not succeed and the good news they preached would have no meaning.
7. What is Jesus doing today, and what questions might we ask?
7 We know that Jesus was much more than simply a great man. Jesus is alive and is overseeing the worldwide preaching work. He is the King of God’s heavenly Kingdom, which will soon remove all badness from the earth and transform it into a paradise where people will live forever. (Luke 23:43) None of these things could happen if Jesus had not been resurrected. So why can we be sure that Jesus was raised from the dead? And what does his resurrection mean for us?
If Jesus had not been resurrected, God’s purpose would not succeed and the good news would have no meaning
JEHOVAH’S POWER OVER DEATH
8, 9. (a) Why did the Jewish religious leaders ask that Jesus’ grave be guarded? (b) What happened when women came to the tomb?
8 After Jesus was executed, Jewish religious leaders came to Pilate and said: “Sir, we recall what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I am to be raised up.’ Therefore, command that the grave be made secure until the third day, so that his disciples may not come and steal him and say to the people, ‘He was raised up from the dead!’ Then this last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate told them: “You may have a guard. Go make it as secure as you know how.” That is exactly what they did.
9 At his burial, Jesus was put in a tomb carved out of a huge rock, and a large stone covered the entrance. The religious leaders wanted Jesus to stay in that tomb forever. But Jehovah had a totally different thought. Three days later, two disciples, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, came to the tomb. There, they found the stone rolled away and an angel sitting on it. The angel told the women to look inside the tomb and see that it was empty. The angel said to them: “He is not here, for he was raised up.” (Matthew 28:1-6) Jesus was alive!
10. How did Paul prove that Jesus was resurrected?
10 What happened in the next 40 days left no doubt that Jesus had been resurrected. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Among the first things I handed on to you was what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, yes, that he was raised up on the third day according to the Scriptures; and that he appeared to Ce′phas, and then to the Twelve. After that he appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still with us, though some have fallen asleep in death. After that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. But last of all he appeared also to me as if to one born prematurely.”
FOUR REASONS WHY WE KNOW THAT JESUS WAS RESURRECTED
11. How did Jesus’ resurrection happen “according to the Scriptures”?
11 Jesus’ resurrection happened “according to the Scriptures.” God’s Word foretold the resurrection. For example, David wrote that God’s “loyal one” would not be left in the Grave. (Read Psalm 16:10.) On the day of Pentecost in the year 33, Peter explained that the “loyal one” was Jesus when he said: “[David] foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he forsaken in the Grave nor did his flesh see corruption.”
12. Who saw the resurrected Jesus?
12 Many eyewitnesses saw the resurrected Jesus. During the 40 days after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples in the garden near his tomb, on the road to the village of Emmaus, and in other places. (Luke 24:13-15) He spoke to individuals, including Peter, and to groups. Once, Jesus even appeared to a crowd of more than 500 people. We cannot ignore the fact that so many eyewitnesses saw the resurrected Jesus.
13. How did the zeal of the disciples show that they were convinced that Jesus had been resurrected?
13 The disciples zealously preached about Jesus’ resurrection. They were persecuted, they suffered, and some were killed because of their preaching work. Think about this: If Jesus had not been raised to life, would Peter have risked his life to preach about Christ’s resurrection to the same people who hated Jesus and plotted his death? Peter and the other disciples were confident that Jesus was alive and was overseeing the preaching work. Also, Jesus’ resurrection gave his followers the strong hope that they too would be resurrected. For example, Stephen died convinced that he would be resurrected.
14. Why do you believe that Jesus is alive?
14 We have evidence that Jesus is now ruling as King and is serving as Head of the Christian congregation. True Christianity continues to grow. Would this happen if Jesus had not been raised from the dead? In fact, we may never have heard about Jesus if he had not been resurrected. But we have strong reasons to believe that Jesus is alive and is overseeing the worldwide preaching work.
WHAT JESUS’ RESURRECTION MEANS FOR US
15. Why does Jesus’ resurrection give us courage to preach?
15 Christ’s resurrection gives us courage to preach. Since Jesus’ time, God’s enemies have tried many evil things to stop the preaching work, such as apostasy, mocking, violence, bans, torture, and execution. However, the Bible foretold: “No weapon formed against you will have any success.” (Isaiah 54:17) We do not fear those who are used by Satan. Jesus is helping us as he promised. (Matthew 28:20) We can be confident because no matter what our enemies do, they will never stop us!
16, 17. (a) How does Jesus’ resurrection confirm all that he taught? (b) According to John 11:25, what power has God given Jesus?
16 Jesus’ resurrection confirms all that he taught. One Bible scholar wrote that if Christ was not resurrected, then Christians are foolish people who believe a big lie. Paul wrote that if Jesus were not resurrected, the preaching and the faith of Christians would be worthless. In fact, the Gospel accounts would simply be a sad story of a good and wise man who was killed by his enemies. But Jesus was resurrected, which confirms that everything he taught was true.
17 Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life.” (John 11:25) This promise of Jesus is guaranteed to come true. Jehovah has given Jesus the power to resurrect those who will rule in heaven and the billions who will live on earth. Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection guarantee that there will be no more death. So we can have the strength to endure any trial and even to face death with courage!
18. The resurrection of Jesus guarantees what?
18 Jesus’ resurrection gives us the confidence that people will be judged according to Jehovah’s loving standards. Paul told a group of men and women in Athens that God will “judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed” and that “he has provided a guarantee to all men by resurrecting him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31) God appointed Jesus to be our Judge, and we can be sure that his judgment will be fair and loving.
We cherish the hope of the resurrection and are always eager to obey Jehovah
19. How does belief in Christ’s resurrection affect us?
19 We want to do God’s will because we believe in Jesus’ resurrection. If Jesus had not given his life and had not been resurrected, we would remain under sin and death. (Romans 5:12; 6:23) We would have no hope and might as well say: “Eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.” (1 Corinthians 15:32) But we do not focus on life’s pleasures. Instead, we cherish the hope of the resurrection and are always eager to obey Jehovah.
20. How is Jesus’ resurrection evidence of God’s greatness?
20 Jesus’ resurrection is evidence of the greatness of Jehovah, the one who “becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Jehovah used great power and wisdom in resurrecting Jesus to immortal life in heaven. God also showed his ability to make his promises come true. Jehovah promised that a special “offspring” would settle the issue of universal sovereignty. For this promise to come true, the “offspring,” Jesus, had to die and be resurrected.
21. What does the resurrection hope mean to you?
21 We are very thankful to Jehovah for the hope of the resurrection. The Bible promises: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” That promise was given to the apostle John, who was told: “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Who gave John that revelation? It came from the resurrected Jesus Christ!