Did Jesus Predict His Resurrection?

Updated Mar 21, 2024
Did Jesus Predict His Resurrection?

Jesus spoke openly about what would happen to him: crucifixion and then resurrection from the dead. "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again" (Mark 8:31; see also Matthew 17:22; Luke 9:22). Those who consider the resurrection of Christ unbelievable will probably say that Jesus was deluded or (more likely) that the early church put these statements in his mouth to make him teach the falsehood that they themselves conceived. But those who read the Gospels and come to the considered conviction that the one who speaks so compellingly through these witnesses is not the figment of foolish imagination will be unsatisfied with this effort to explain away Jesus' own testimony to his resurrection from the dead.

This is especially true in view of the fact that the words which predict the resurrection are not only the simple straightforward words quoted above, but also the very oblique and indirect words which are far less likely to be the simple invention of deluded disciples. For example, two separate witnesses testify in two very different ways to Jesus' statement during his lifetime that if his enemies destroyed the temple (of his body), he would build it again in three days (John 2:19; Mark 14:58; cf. Matthew 26:61). He also spoke allusively of the "sign of Jonah" - three days in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:39; Matthew 16:4). And he hinted at it again in Matthew 21:42 - "The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner." On top of his own witness to the coming resurrection, his accusers said that this was part of Jesus' claim: "Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise'" (Matthew 27:63).

Our first evidence of the resurrection, therefore, is that Jesus himself spoke of it. The breadth and nature of the sayings make it unlikely that a deluded church made these up. And the character of Jesus himself, revealed in these witnesses, has not been judged by most people to be a lunatic or a deceiver.

Taken from "Eight Reasons Why I Believe That Jesus Rose from the Dead" by John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org (used by permission).

How Do We Know that the Resurrection Literally Happened?

The following is a transcribed Video Q&A, so the text may not read like an edited article would. Scroll to the bottom to view this video in its entirety.

"There are powerful evidences of the resurrection of Christ and it takes really books to present all of the evidences for Christ and His resurrection. You certainly would believe in the changed lives of the apostles, the fact that these were men cowering behind closed doors, afraid, running away, and something happened that transformed their lives that caused them to be proponents of a resurrection, proponents of Jesus himself, to the degree that all of these men ultimately died for this faith.

Men may live for a lie but very few men will die for a lie. And for these disciples and apostles to give their lives for this message one explanation, the only real explanation would be that they believed in the resurrection, they believed it happened, they claimed that they saw Christ, the empty tomb itself. I mean the fact that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was empty, that's evidence for the resurrection.

Some would say, ‘Well, the disciples stole the body,’ or, ‘He was buried in another tomb,’ or ‘wrong tomb’ theory. But all of that is farfetched. The fact is all the authorities needed to do in the time of Christ was to produce the body of Jesus and Christianity would've died at that very point. If you produced the body of Jesus, the bones of Jesus, you have no Christianity. But the very fact that He is not here, He is risen, He was seen, and the evidence of over 500 who saw Him according to the New Testament is evidence of the resurrection.

The fact that Jesus himself and His message has penetrated the world, the explanation for that is that this is a living faith and not a dead faith. There are many wonderful books, evidences for the resurrection that are written, and I would encourage people who are watching this if you have questions about the resurrection, read Josh McDowell's book Evidence That Demands a Verdict, that would be a great place to start, or More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell, books by Hank Hanegraaff and others have wonderful descriptions of the authority of the Bible and the reality of the resurrection.

Yes, Jesus is Lord and Jesus is alive."

(First published on Christianity.com as "How Do We Know That Jesus Literally Rose from the Dead?" by Jack Graham on October 15, 2012)

What Does Jesus' Resurrection Have to Do with Us Today?

The cross is God’s gracious response to our own sinful and willful irresponsibility, choices, and actions. We sin. We are perpetrators of evil—and this separates us from God. It is this aspect of sin that has been dealt with by the vicarious sacrifice of the atonement.

But we are also victims of sin. We have enemies who harm us. We are victims who have been sinned against in numerous ways. Because of sins done to us, we are also captive, held in bondage by powers in some sense external to us and greater than we are. Or we may be held in bondage to our own desires or fears, our self-centeredness or despair. Sometimes the Bible describes the human problem as suffering, being in bondage, slavery, or captivity, each and all of which separate us from God.

What we need in this regard is for God to fight on our behalf, against our enemy, for our freedom from bondage. This is what God did in the Exodus for his people. The clearest and most powerful manifestation of God doing this for us is Christ’s victory over death in the resurrection (Ephesians 1:19). In this victory over principalities, powers, and death, the Son reclaims creation for the Father and freedom for you. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 2:15)

In answering the question, “How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?” the Heidelberg Catechism answers: “First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, so that he might make us share in the righteousness he won for us by his death. Second, by his power we too are already now resurrected to a new life. Third, Christ’s resurrection is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection.”

God accomplished redemption in Christ’s victory over sin and death, but the effects of that victory have yet to be fully realized. So while the ultimate outcome has been assured (Romans 8:18; 1 Corinthians 15:51 Revelation 21:1), the struggle between life and death, good and evil, continues. However, the shalom (i.e. peace in its fullest sense), freedom, and rest of redemption will one day be fully realized when Jesus returns.

Jesus was physically raised from death as “the firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18), securing a future resurrection like his own for all those who are united to him through faith. Through his triumphant resurrection, Jesus opened the way for us to experience resurrection and eternal life in the new earth when he returns instead of the death we deserve.

Christ’s victory gives us back our identity and restores our meaning. We recognize, and may truly know for the first time, that we have a future that ends in peace, as well as a past that can be healed and forgiven, and now live in the hope of the gospel. Christ opens up for us a new identity because he himself remained always true to his identity, a share of which he offers to us.

In Christ’s victory, fear and shame are banished, to be replaced by profound joy that we are no longer strangers to God and to one another, that we are no longer so utterly isolated and alone.

[Adapted from On the Grace of God by Justin Holcomb. Previously published on Christianity.com as "What Does Jesus' Resurrection Have to Do with Me?" on April 18, 2013]

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

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