Focal Passage: Matthew 28:1-10
Eben Alexander was an accomplished neurosurgeon when in 2008 he was rushed to the hospital with bacterial meningitis. His condition was critical as he lay comatose with no discernible brain activity.
Seven days later he awoke from his seeming unconsciousness.
Near death experiences and resuscitation stories are numerous. In the life of Jesus we can read about three different times when Jesus raised someone, not just from a coma, but from the dead.
Luke describes two of those occurrences. We read about Jesus raising the widow’s son in Luke 7:11-17, and we read about Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter in 8:40-56. In both of these miracles the skeptics were proven wrong, and the affected families experienced indescribable joy. Luke does not, however, describe the remarkable story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Only the beloved disciple, John, chronicles this intimate story. Lazarus was one of Jesus’ dearest friends. He and two sisters, Mary and Martha, had often provided food and shelter for Jesus, and theirs was a special love relationship.
But Lazarus would not only die, but remain dead four days before Jesus reached his tomb and set him free from the bondage of physical death. As wonderful and powerful as each of these miracles are, collectively they pale in comparison to the resurrection of Jesus from the grave.
In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ resurrection, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Joses (cf. Mark 15:40) were the first to arrive at the sepulcher. He describes a violent earthquake, God’s angel rolling back the tomb and sitting on it, and the Roman guards paralyzed with fear. Despite the fear of the soldiers, the women were filled with hope and joy; “Jesus’ body is not here! He has been resurrected, just as He had promised. Come see the empty tomb.” In the following hours and days Jesus made numerous resurrection appearances. Unlike those whom Jesus had temporarily resurrected, Jesus’ resurrection is permanent and eternal, guaranteeing eternal life to all who will believe and receive this gift from God.