Summary: The resurrection of Jesus should not have come as a surprise to anyone. Because of the resurrection we now have the power to live the wonderful life God created for us and have assurance of a blessed future life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Other Resurrections
“and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[c] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” Matthew 27:52-53
Intro: Hello Easter people. By this time we realize that Judas is dead. Pontius Pilate the Roman leader of Judea probably wishes he was dead also. The Cross has been taken down. The empty tomb is still empty. Now what? What has all this accomplished?
It is a well known fact that the Sunday’s after Christmas and the Sunday’s after Easter are among the lowest church attendance days of the year. What that says to me is that those of you who are here today are among the most faithful church attendees. (Go ahead and give yourself applause.)
What if Easter was not just a single Sunday but more as a way of life? For forty days after the resurrection Jesus remained alive here on earth. This is proof beyond any shadow of a doubt that the resurrection is real.
Today we are going to talk about “The Other Resurrections.” The resurrection of Jesus Christ should really have not come as a surprise to anyone. Jesus himself had already raised three people from the dead: Jesus resurrects the only son of a woman from Nain Luke 7:11-15. Jesus raises from the dead the daughter of Jarius, who is a ruler in the synagogue Luke 8:49-51. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead in John 11. Three times Jesus resurrected the dead right before their very eyes. So, when Jesus taught his disciples that he too would die and on the third day rise again it seems as though they should have understood Jesus’ meaning. The resurrection was nothing new. The idea of man being a living soul was part of the creation of Adam “the Lord God formed the man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” Genesis 2:7 KJV.
There are three resurrection events told in the Old Testament books of First and Second Kings. Elijah raises the son of a widowed woman 1 Kings 17. Elisha raises the son of a Shunammite woman 2 Kings 4:16-20, 32-36. Then a third resurrection occurs when Israelites bury a man in the grave of Elisha and as soon as his dead body touched the bones of Elisha God raised him back to life 2 Kings 13:20-21.
We also have the record of Enoch and Elijah, the only two people who never tasted death. “Enoch walked with God and he was not for God took him” Genesis 5:24. “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” 2 Kings 2:11.
Even after Jesus has ascended back up into heaven the bible talks about three more resurrections. You may have forgotten about the resurrection in Joppa. Peter resurrects a generous woman named Tabitha Acts 9:36-41. Paul raises from the dead a young man named Eutychus who fell from a window Acts 20:7-12. The last person in the Bible to be raised from the dead was the Apostle Paul himself. After being stoned by a mob of people who had turned against him, Paul’s lifeless body was dragged through the streets and cast out of the city and left for dead. Some believers find Paul's body and as they stand around it Paul comes back to life! “he rose; and he went into the city with them” Acts 14:20. Paul was not just knocked out. He was not just unconscious. A close look reveals the same Greek word “ἀνίστημι” 'anistemi' (Strong’s 450) used to describe Paul in “he rose” Acts 14:20 is the same Greek word used in Acts 10:41 to describe the resurrection of Jesus “He was not seen by all people but by witnesses whom God had chose already by us who ate and drank with him after “he rose” “ἀνίστημι” 'anistemi' from the dead." The bible uses the exact same words to describe Paul’s event as a resurrection as it does Christ’s resurrection.
So there are several resurrection events besides the Easter morning resurrection of Jesus “and the other tombs being opened. And the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.” Matthew 27:52-53
I am convinced that people in Jesus' time knew what dead was. They could check a person’s breathing. They could take someone’s pulse. They could see if the pupils of the eyes dilated when exposed to light just like we can today.
When the bible says that Lazarus was dead I believe Lazarus was dead. Just like I believe when the bible says that Jesus was dead that Jesus was dead and by the power of the Almighty God, Jesus was resurrected back to life from the dead. Why would we as believers diminish any of these events to be less than a miracle of life brought back by resurrection?