Summary: If others came back to life before Jesus, then what does this phrase “firstborn of the dead” really mean?
Colossians 1:18 “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”
Revelation 1:5 “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.”
I. FIRST, JESUS WAS NOT THE FIRST TO COME BACK TO LIFE!
A. Old Testament Examples
1. (1 Kings 17:8-22) About 900 years before Christ, Elijah the prophet - “stretched himself out on the body of a dead child, the son of a widow of Zarephath, and cried out to the Lord, ‘O Lord my God, let this child’s soul come back to him.’ Then the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived”
2. (2 Kings 4:36) About a hundred years later, the successor of Elijah, Elisha, revived the son of a Shunammite woman
3. (2 Kings 13:20-21) After Elisha was buried, when the corpse of another man happened to touch Elisha’s body, the man came to life
B. New Testament Examples
1. Before Jesus arose from dead, he himself raised at least 3 corpses to life
a. the 12-year-old daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:22, 41)
b. the son of a widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17)
c. and his friend Lazarus, whose body had lain “in the tomb four days” (John 11:17-44).
2. At the moment Jesus died, an earthquake opened nearby tombs, “and many bodies” were raised (Matthew 27:52) [Note: These revived corpses, after Jesus’ resurrection, “entered the holy city, and were seen by many” (Matthew 27:53)]
3. (Acts 9:36-41) Raising of Dorcas by apostle Peter
II. THE QUESTION COMES, “SO HOW WAS JESUS THE “FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD”?
A. Answer = All Those Raised To Live Again Before & After Jesus’ Own Resurrection Had To Die Again
B. The Only Corpse Ever To Come From A Tomb Alive, Never To Die Again Was The Body Of Jesus!
C. Only He Could Announce:
1. “I was dead, but behold! I am alive forever and ever, and I have the keys of death and the grave” (Revelation 1:18).
2. “Death has no more a dominion over him” (Romans 6:9).
D. DeVinci Code Movie – Portrays A Jesus Who Really Didn’t Die On Cross
1. “Seek the truth…”
2. Truth is – He did die – a real death
a. crucifixion kills people
b. professional executioners
c. they certified the death
d. three days in the tomb
e. if not truly dead & raised – would have made a pitiful appearance to the disciples
3. Political sign in front of convent in Dayton, Ohio read: “Sisters Of The Precious Blood oppose the death penalty”. Now think about it (aside from the politics), if there was no death penalty (i.e., Calvary) there would be no “Sisters Of The Precious Blood”.
4. No – truly dead & truly raised to never die again
III. AS THE “FIRSTBORN” – IMPLIES THERE ARE OTHERS “BORN TO NEVER DIE AGAIN OTHERS WILL BE RAISED – DEATH HAVE NO MORE DOMINION OVER THEM!
A. Job Is Asked The Curious Question: “If a man die, shall he live again?” (14:14)
He answers that question in Job 19:25-27 “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”
B. As The Firstborn From The Dead, He Imparts Life To All
1. (1 Corinthians 15:20) Jesus is “the first fruits of those who are asleep”
2. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22) “Since death came by man, by man also is the resurrection of the dead. As in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive”
3. (John 5:28-29) “The hour comes in which all those in the graves will hear his [Jesus’] voice, and will come out: those who have done good things to a resurrection of life; but those who have done evil things to a resurrection of condemnation”
C. It’s A Transformation That Will Either Be Happy Or Hated
IV. RESURRECTION EMPOWERS OUR FAITH … Every Promise Hinges On Resurrection
1 Cor 15:14 “If Christ is not risen , then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.”