God Lives from The Preposterous God

 Chapter Ten 

Jesus told His disciples on several occasions that He would die and then be raised. Matthew 16:21 recounts one such incident: 

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 

“Killed” and “raised” both sounded impossible to Jesus’ followers. Not surprisingly, Peter took Jesus aside and, Matthew tells us, “began to rebuke him saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord. This shall never happen to you’” (v. 22). 

Which would have been more stunning—the killing or the raising? To Peter and the rest of the apostles, it would have been the killing, since they believed Jesus was the long-promised Messiah. As Messiah, Jesus would be king overall and invulnerable. Regarding the raising, this was secondary, since there could not be any killing. 

The Gospel accounts show the disciples were completely shocked to see Jesus alive again, since His dying had so shattered their concept of who He was. They were Jews, and like most of Israel, were hoping to have the nation restored under a coming king, the Messiah. However, the nation thought of the Messiah as a military and political savior from Roman domination. Defeat of the enemy and rise of a kingdom was uppermost in their minds. 

Indeed, hints of resurrection in the Hebrew Bible received little attention from the rabbis in that era. 


In Psalm 16:10, attributed to King David, is a reference that does not seem to fit David’s circumstances. Many prophetic assertions in the Hebrew Bible are the same; in the midst of a text, suddenly an incongruency appears. At some point in history such stange passages, are recognized as a prophecy. Psalm 16:10 is an excellent example. “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption,” is what David wrote. 

“Soul” is from the Hebrew word nephesh and means a human being or person, not an ethereal spiritual entity. Neither would David refer to himself as “holy,” and the concept of resurrection, or surviving being killed, would not be something in his awareness. 

Jesus, however, did not see corruption, despite His actual death and burial. Crucified on Friday and dead at 3:00 p.m. that afternoon, He was absent from the grave early Sunday morning. Exactly when he was raised is unknown. The Apostle Peter explains: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison.” (1 Peter 3:18–19) 

When this proclamation by Jesus took place is not cited. Historically, the resurrection is celebrated as taking place on Sunday morning, either while it was yet dark or shortly thereafter. In any case, Jesus was raised from the dead. 

Jesus was raised; He did not raise Himself. The Father raised the Son. Paul’s words to the Corinthian congregation explains: 

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ dies for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of who are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Corinthians 15:3–7) 

Knowing God is preposterous 

A Creator God who could not raise the dead would be no God at all. If the Being who is responsible for all the matter and energy that exists could not raise a dead person to life, this would be completely absurd. 

Jesus did die, was raised, did ascend to the right hand of the Father,1 and will return at the end of the age. 

1 To be at the right hand means to be in the position of power and authority, at minimum. It also means that the one so seated is finished with the work so designed. We speak of the “finished work of Christ.”  

Leave a Reply