I had a preacher once give me the advice: When all else fails, preach the resurrection. Not bad advice. After all, what a wonderfully comforting message to hear. Because of the resurrection of Christ, we know we’ll all be resurrected on the last day (1 Corinthians 15:21-23). That is why Paul could say, “To die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
In John 5:25-29, Jesus taught a hostile crowd of Jews about the resurrection of our bodies. I believe six basic lessons can be drawn from what he had to say to them.
1) Jesus will raise ALL of the dead.
When you read verse 25 or simply hear about that resurrection upon the Lord’s second coming, you might get the impression that only the righteous–those justified and saved by Christ–will be brought out of the graves. But notice verses 28 and 29.
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28-29)
There will not be an occupied grave anywhere on this earth. Jesus will raise both the righteous and unrighteous.
2) Jesus will raise the dead by nothing more than his voice.
In verse 25, Jesus said, “The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” It is not surprising that Jesus–God in the flesh–who upholds all things by the word of his power would need nothing more than his voice to raise the dead (Hebrews 1:3). After all, he spoke the world into existence in the beginning (Genesis 1).
3) The hour of the resurrection is NOW.
Again, in verse 25, Jesus said, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” But wait. Are the dead rising right now? What was he talking about?
First of all, the power Christ held to raise the dead was among them at the moment he said what he said. He even put that power on display by healing the sick, casting out devils, and, of course, raising the dead (John 11:23-44).
Secondly, all of God’s born again people have already been raised from the dead. Not our bodies, but we’ve been brought to life from a state of death in our trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1). Christ was using that resurrecting power 2,000 years and still is.
4) Jesus has the power to the raise the dead because he is God.
In verse 26, Jesus said, “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” Later Jesus would say, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). If God has that power, the Son of God has that power.
5) Jesus will raise the dead because he is the Son of man.
In verse 27, he said, “[God] hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” Did you catch that? He is given this authority, not because he is the Son of God or God in the flesh, but because he is the Son of man.
Paul would later preach, “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).
Doesn’t it seem fitting that the one man who walked this sinful world, faced trials and temptations, yet remained sinless would be the one to judge the unrighteous in the end? We often think of God as being a bit of dictator because he so far removed from life here on this earth. That’s not true, but we certainly can’t make that same claim when it comes to Jesus Christ.
6) The righteous will be separated from the unrighteous.
Jesus said, “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29).
Now this isn’t that typical “Saint Peter scenario” where Jesus is going to run down a list of our good works versus our sins on the last day and decide where we belong in the end. That’s been decided since before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-6). It was finalized with the atonement made by Christ and will conclude upon his second coming.