Barbara, the daughter of a wealthy businessman, was kidnapped and held for $5 million ransom. Her abductors took her at gunpoint to a lonely spot in the bush, where they had prepared a grave and a special coffin for her. It was fitted with a battery-operated fan that drew in fresh air through a pipe that extended to the surface. They also supplied her with food and water.
In spite of her desperate pleas, they buried her alive! She was confined in her prison for more than 80 hours, until her father finally paid the ransom.
Metaphorically at least, that is the plight of the human race today. In a very real sense, we can think of our world as a giant mausoleum. Satan, our kidnapper, deceived our first parents, Adam and Eve, causing them to be cast out of their Eden home. They, with all their descendants down through the ages, have been held for ransom.
The apostle Paul writes that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). By leading Adam and Eve to disobey God, billions of people throughout human history have been incarcerated in a grave.
Fortunately, there is a way out. The story of redemption, the great theme of the Bible, unfolds a marvellous rescue plan: Jesus “gave himself as a ransom for all men” (1 Timothy 2:5, 6). Like Barbara, our heavenly Father has paid the ransom and secured our release!
Be not amazed
The resurrection of Jesus Christ after His death is the golden thread of hope that runs throughout the Bible. It promises that while we may die at the end of this present life, we need not be permanently removed from God. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can be assured that we will live forever some day.
When answering for his faith before King Agrippa, Paul was able to declare, “Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26:8).
Paul was simply echoing what Jesus said during His time on earth: “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned” (John 5:28, 29).
During the time He spent among us, Jesus consistently repeated the promise that He would rescue His ransomed people from the prison of the grave by His own resurrection from the dead (see John 6:39, 40, 44, 54). This tells us how important He regarded our salvation!
Four unshakable facts
H.M.S. Richards, a pioneer in religious radio broadcasting, said toward the end of his long life, “One of these days, you’ll read in the paper that Brother Richards has died. Don’t believe a word of it! Brother Richards will just be taking a little nap until the Lord comes!” His certainty was based on four unshakable facts:
1. Jesus rose from the dead. “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17, 18). His resurrection is the basis for ours.
2. Scripture supports the truth of the resurrection. To reject one is to reject the other.
3. The believer’s hope of the resurrection rests on the unfailing promise of One whose promises can be trusted and relied upon. “On the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time” (Titus 1:2).
4. Resurrections have already taken place. Thus, the resurrection at the end of time is more than a prophetic prediction, it is a historical reality, for Jesus raised people to life during His ministry.
The awesome promise
But Jesus went beyond the spoken word to reveal to us the truth of the resurrection. He gave us a real-life demonstration of this truth by raising Lazarus from the dead (see John 12). And Lazarus was a prototype of all God’s people who will some day rise from the grave.
Paul wrote, “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:15–17).
The assurance that God’s people who have died will be resurrected at Jesus’ second coming is based on the fact that He Himself rose from the dead nearly 2000 years ago.
And when we all rise again at that time, we have much to look forward to, for “the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory’ ” (1 Corinthians 15:52–54).
Jesus’ resurrection is no myth or mirage. It is the supreme miracle of all time. We will be raised to life again in response to the call of Jesus, the Conqueror of death.
The Bible tell us that “he will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).