Skip to main content

Who Resurrected Jesus?

It’s Easter Sunday, 2024. In fact, Easter came early this year – we won’t be celebrating again until April 20th of next year! We all know the story of the first Easter morning when the women, according to Luke, went to the tomb and it was empty! Jesus arose from the dead and  had defeated death once and for all. As He said on the cross, right before taking His last breath, “It is finished…”

Depending on the version of the Bible that you read, Jesus gave up “His Spirit” or words to that effect. In other words, Jesus did not have His life taken from Him – He chose the moment to end His earthly existence. He was in control, doing the will of His Father, throughout the crucifixion event. True to the description we read in Exodus, not a bone of the lamb was to be broken – and that was, in fact, the way Jesus, the perfect lamb, died. Not a bone was broken…

The thing that separates Christianity from other world religions is the fact that we serve a living Savior. Many other religions worship a dead “god” whereas we serve the living God – who is flourishing and present in our lives every moment. We celebrate the resurrection of the living Christ!

One of the very interesting things we studied in seminary, both in English and in Greek, is “who resurrected Jesus?” Was it God the Father, the Holy Spirit, or did Jesus raise Himself from the dead? So let’s look at these different scenarios.

The apostle, Paul, tells us in Romans 6:4, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” And Dr. Luke tells us, in Acts 2:32, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.” It seems quite clear that there is significant evidence that God the Father was the one who raised His Son from the dead!

But what about the claims that the Holy Spirit was responsible? Once again, we can turn to the apostle Paul and his book of Romans, the deepest theology of Christianity in the Scripture. Paul tells us, in Romans 8:11, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” And how about this verse from impetuous Peter, the apostle who preached the first sermon of the new church at Pentecost? Peter tells us, in 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit…” So maybe it was the Holy Spirit who was responsible for the resurrection of Jesus!

And that brings us to Jesus Himself! How is that even possible to think that Jesus could resurrect Himself from the dead? We know that during His life, Jesus raised at least three people from the dead. The best known of these is probably the story of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, who had been dead and put in a tomb. Jesus ordered him to “come out” and Lazarus did – full of life. So we know that Jesus was empowered to raise others from the dead. There is ample Scriptural evidence of that! But raising yourself from the dead is an entirely different matter.

So let’s look at the words of the apostle John, the disciple who wrote the Gospel of the same name. John, who walked with Jesus throughout His three year ministry, tells us the words of Jesus discussing His own life in John 10:18, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” So God the Father gave Jesus authority to resurrect Himself, according to Jesus. John continues in John 5:21-22, “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.” Once again, John tells us that Jesus has the power and authority to raise anyone from the dead, including Himself! Finally, John gives us the words of Jesus in John 2:19, “Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” John adds, in 2:21, “But the temple he had spoken of was his body.”

One last point here. In the Greek, the word “resurrect” is used in what is called the middle voice. It means that an action is done to oneself. This would support the idea that Jesus, being resurrected, did it to Himself. In the Scripture, every other example of the works of Jesus uses the language that He “raised” other people from the dead. Food for thought, isn’t it?

So we have Biblical evidence that God the Father, the Holy Spirit and Jesus all were involved in the resurrection of Jesus.  Suffice it to say that this event, like the creation story and the baptism of Jesus, involved all three members of the Trinity. They are truly “three in one.” Each member of the Trinity has specific attributes yet they are the same. Something too grand for our feeble human minds to really understand.

My encouragement today is that the Godhead raised Jesus from the dead as a “once and for all” victory over death so that we may each spend eternity with God. My prayer is that as we celebrate Easter each year, you may have a renewed sense of wonder at how glorious and complex this death and resurrection truly is! Happy Easter! And have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

Leave a Reply