I have to remind myself of this: People have been raised from the dead before. It is recorded in the Old Testament to have occurred. During His earthly ministry, Jesus raised people from the dead, like Lazarus who had been dead for a few days. The apostles and his disciples also prayed to have people brought back to life from the dead. None of these people were resurrected. Only Jesus was resurrected. All of the others died at a later time, but Jesus was resurrected with a new immortal body that he still has today. He has a glorified, immortal body, and this was verified by those that witnessed his presence after His resurrection.
This truth of the resurrection is a Christian’s main focus and hope while in this life. It is the foundation of the Gospel as is confirmed by the apostle Paul in the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians: “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After this He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”
Paul was reminding the Corinthians about the resurrection because some among them were saying that there is no resurrection from the dead (see 1 Cor. 15.12). He goes on to say in verse 19: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” In the remainder of 1 Cor. 15 Paul reveals some information about these new resurrected bodies that we as Christians will receive, and how Jesus conquered death so that we can gain eternal life with an immortal, resurrected body.
These are truly amazing truths and beyond our comprehension to fully understand or imagine. If there was one past historic event that I was given the opportunity to witness, I would definitely choose to witness the resurrection of Jesus. His resurrection was the most significant historical event since the fall of man in the garden.
What was also quite amazing was how Jesus manifested Himself to His disciples in His resurrected state. Think about what it would have been like to see and interact with Jesus after He had been resurrected. They probably thought they were seeing a ghost, yet they could touch Him. His body bore the scars of His crucifixion. He was able to just appear in the midst of them, but He also was able to eat and drink with them.
I have been reading and meditating on the record of the risen Jesus appearing to his disciples that is recorded in the gospel of John chapter 21 (Phillips translation): “Later on, Jesus showed himself again to his disciples on the shore of Lake Tiberias, and he did it in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael from Cana of Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together, when Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ ‘All right,’ they replied, ‘we’ll go with you.’ So they went out and got into the boat and during the night caught nothing at all. But just as dawn began to break, Jesus stood there on the beach, although the disciples had no idea that it was Jesus. ‘Have you caught anything, lads?’ Jesus called out to them. ‘No,’ they replied. ‘Throw the net on the right side of the boat,’ said Jesus, ‘and you’ll have a catch.’ So they threw out the net and found that they were now not strong enough to pull it in because it was so full of fish! At this the disciple that Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ Hearing this, Peter slipped on his clothes, for he had been naked, and plunged into the sea. The other disciples followed in the boat, for they were only about a hundred yards from the shore, dragging in the net full of fish. When they had landed, they saw that a charcoal fire was burning, with a fish placed on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring me some of the fish you’ve just caught.’ So Simon Peter got into the boat and hauled the net ashore full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three altogether. But in spite of the large number the net was not torn. Then Jesus said to them, “Come and have your breakfast.’ None of the disciples dared to ask him who he was; they knew it was the Lord. Jesus went and took the bread and gave it to them and gave them all the fish as well. This was now the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples after his resurrection from the dead.”
There’s more to this incident, but I want to stop there.
Why doesn’t Jesus show Himself in a similar way today? I believe it is because God wants us to walk by faith. Walking by faith is more pleasing to God. Peter reminds us of this: “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” Of course, we wouldn’t really be able to recognize Jesus even if He did show Himself to us. Hebrews tells us that some strangers could be angels: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” (Heb. 13.2)
Although Jesus may not be visible to our eyes, He is, none the less, just as present in our lives. Yes, although there are billions of people in this world, Jesus, as a part of the Living Godhead, has knowledge of each one. As Christians, He is involved with each of us on a personal level, even knowing the very number of hairs on our heads. By the Holy Spirit, he is involved in the situations in our lives. How exactly this works, I don’t know, but yet it is true.
One part of the above account that jumps out to me is that the disciples listened to this “stranger” when He suggested that they throw their nets on the right side of the boat. They did this before they knew that it was Jesus. At the time, this was just some stranger on the shore calling out. What could this stranger know that these seasoned fishermen, who had been out all night trying to catch fish, didn’t know? Why didn’t they just ignore this stranger? Couldn’t they have thought “who’s this guy and why’s he telling us what to do?” For some reason they listened. Maybe they were humble enough to not let their pride get in the way. Or maybe they were sensitive to spiritual things and recognized that something spiritual was happening. I think there’s a lesson here. We need to be open to the Holy Spirit’s involvement in our lives. Should we listen to every stranger that suggests something to us? No. But I think we should be open to thinking this could be God’s hand moving in our life. This could be God’s direction or help with our situation. This could be a part of God’s purpose. We should not let our pride get in the way of God’s purpose. We should attempt to discern the moving of God’s Spirit in our circumstances. If we look at the people only, our flesh gets in the way. We need to look past the people and recognize that the living God is moving in our life and He has a plan and a purpose for all things that happen to us.
We must also remember that this event was miraculous. Not only did they have the value of the fish for food, but they also witnessed God’s power. Jesus knew that the fish were on the right side of the boat while He was standing on the beach. Only God can do that. This miracle built up the disciple’s faith at the time, and also it was recorded in the Scriptures and contributes to the building up of our faith nearly two centuries later. Jesus didn’t just show Himself to these men, but he performed a miracle, and the miracle helped them. It was practical. They had been out fishing all night and coming home with nothing. Jesus met their need, and He also made sure they had enough for breakfast!
How amazing that this was the King of Kings that was cooking breakfast for these fishermen? Ephesians tells us: “He (God the Father) raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things…..” Yet He had a charcoal fire prepared for them with fish and bread, and then served them when they came ashore. Even after His resurrection and placement into a position of extreme power, Jesus is still the servant. As when Jesus washed His disciple’s feet, the truth still applies in this event that “the greatest among you will be the servant.”
Most importantly, though, we need to allow the reality of the resurrection to get into our brains. We need to allow the beauty of this truth to permeate our beings. It’s true. These men saw Jesus resurrected. He appeared to them and they witnessed Him with their eyes and were able to confirm and record the event in the Scriptures for us to know this truth also. The world or the devil can’t change this. We can rest assured that Jesus is faithful to complete His promise. He will return, and when He does, we will be transformed: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Cor. 15: 51-53)