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Christ’s authority to raise the dead is perhaps the ultimate proof that He truly is both Messiah and Heir of the world. It is the authority to reverse the curse imposed upon the world on account of Adam’s sin.
The Sabbath and Resurrection
From a prophetic standpoint, resurrections occur on a Sabbath day. The feast of Trumpets was to be a Sabbath, for Leviticus 23:24, 25 says,
24 Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, “In the seventh month on the first of the month, you shall have a rest [Sabbaton], a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. 25 You shall not do any laborious work; but you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord.”
Sabbaths, or “rest” days, occurred every seventh day, but in addition, the feast days were also Sabbaths. The feast of Trumpets prophesies of the resurrection of the dead, and the blowing of trumpets signified the spoken word of God which alone could raise the dead. For this reason, God told Moses to construct two silver trumpets for the occasion (Numbers 10:2, 3, 4). When one trumpet was blown, the leaders convened, while two trumpets convened the congregation (kahal, “church”).
We see from this that the first resurrection, which, John says, is limited to those who reign with Christ (Revelation 20:6), will necessarily involve just one trumpet. The general resurrection a thousand years later will be signaled by both trumpets. Hence, Paul speaks of the dead being raised “at the last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:52) and “with the trumpet of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). In both cases, it is a singular trumpet, pointing to the first resurrection, rather than to the second.
The point is that when Jesus healed the invalid on the Sabbath (John 5:8, 9), this healing miracle was a sign of resurrection. We know this because in the rest of the chapter Jesus began to explain that miracle in terms of His authority to raise the dead. John arranged his gospel to set forth signs, followed by explanatory teachings. In this particular case, healing the invalid on the Sabbath showed that He is Lord of the Sabbath, and, by extension, Lord of the feast of Trumpets. It is His “voice” (John 5:28), represented in the law as a trumpet, which raises the dead.
Likewise, Jesus Himself was raised from the dead and presented to His heavenly Father on the wave-sheaf offering, defined in Leviticus 23:11 as “the day after the (weekly) Sabbath.” That day served also as the first day of seven Sabbaths leading to Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15). It prophesies a change in the Sabbath itself, moving from a Passover Sabbath to a Pentecostal Sabbath.
The original Sabbath of Israel began on the 15th day of the 2nd month (Exodus 16:1), which was the Second Passover (Numbers 9:11) and also when the manna cycle began (Exodus 16:4). They were to gather manna for six days and none on the seventh (Exodus 16:26). This was repeated the following week. By this, Israel’s weekly Sabbath was instituted, for Exodus 16:23 is the first time the word “Sabbath” appears in Scripture. In that the Sabbaths began their count on the day of the Second Passover, it can be called a Passover Sabbath.
Years later, their final Passover Sabbath, wherein Jesus was entombed, was the last of its kind. It was meant to commemorate Christ’s death, which is the main truth of the feast of Passover. The next day, Sunday, shifted to a new day to memorialize Christ’s resurrection, along with the proof that He was indeed alive, when He was presented to the Father on the third hour of the day as the priest waved the sheaf before the Lord in the earthly temple.
For the next seven Sabbaths, Christ met with His disciples to eat with them in fellowship (Communion). These seven Sabbaths were designed to jump-start the new system of Sabbaths commemorating His resurrection, as prophesied in the law. For this reason, the early Church (other than a minority of Jewish Christians in Judea) always claimed that the reason they gathered on Sunday was because on that day Jesus was raised from the dead.
It is possible that the Sabbath will change again when the feast of Tabernacles is fulfilled. Leviticus 23:34, 35, 36 tells us that the first and eighth days of Tabernacles were to be observed as Sabbaths, regardless of what day of the week they fell. By understanding that Sabbaths were meant to commemorate some important event, we can see that the Sabbaths in the Tabernacles Age to come would probably commemorate the birthing of the Sons of God on the first day and the presentation of the Sons on the eighth day of the feast. If so, these two days, seven days apart, may well jump-start a new Sabbath system, designed to set forth Sonship as the goal for the rest of mankind.
In my view, the first fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles (on a historic level) is when the living overcomers are “changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51) on the first day of the feast. This will occur two weeks after the dead overcomers have been raised from the dead (on the feast of Trumpets). At that point, these two bodies of overcomers will become one body. In the midst of the feast of Tabernacles, Christ (the Head) will come to complete the reconstruction of the Body, so that the complete and perfected Body can be presented to the Father, as we read in Ephesians 5:27.
Once presented, these sons of God then must return as manifested sons of God, that is, they will be manifested to the rest of the people on earth, in order to show them how they too can become sons of God at the next appointed time—the general resurrection.
After speaking of the resurrection and how He has the authority, as the Son of Man, to judge all of humanity, John 5:30 says,
30 I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
A good judge dispenses justice according to the law, because that is his duty. A good judge is subject to the law and has no right to set it aside or to alter it in any way. So also Jesus, whose “judgment is just,” does not judge according to His own will. Yet because Jesus is in perfect agreement with the will of His heavenly Father, He does not need to go against His own will or His own “better judgment” by adhering to the law of God.
Even Jesus’ love for sinners and His desire for grace and mercy does not conflict with the law or will of His Father, for grace and mercy are built into the law itself. Consider the fact that the law of Jubilee is much more merciful than church law—which demands everlasting punishment. The law of Jubilee limits judgment to an unspecified “age” (aion), after which time grace is extended.
We must also point out that once again Jesus assumes that He is distinct from the Father and subordinate to His will. He who sends is greater than the one sent.
John 5:31 continues,
31 If I alone testify of Myself, My testimony is not true.
A single witness may state things that are true, but his testimony is not recognized by the law as truth apart from a second witness. Secondly, the law does not allow a witness to change hats and thereby pretend to be a second witness. Jesus and His Father are two witnesses, by which all truth is established by law (Deuteronomy 19:15).
Though Jesus came as the Messiah and the Son of God, He did not claim any privilege to bypass the law’s requirement. That is why He submitted to the pain of the cross, for the law demanded justice and payment for all sin.
The context of this statement also shows that when Jesus healed the invalid on the Sabbath, His judgment was in alignment with the will of the Father, as seen in the Sabbath laws. The religious leaders did not understand or interpret the Sabbath laws in accordance with the Father’s will. Hence, the Father did not bear witness of their understanding. The Father did, however, bear witness of Jesus’ miracle, and for this reason the miracle was possible.
John 5:32 says,
32 There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He bears of Me is true.
The second Witness is the heavenly Father Himself, who bore witness to Jesus, resulting in the invalid’s healing.
The Witness of John the Baptist
John 5:33 says,
33 You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth.
Apparently, the religious leaders had not only questioned John himself (John 1:19, 24), but they had later gone to John to ask him specifically if he had identified Jesus as the Messiah. The verse above implies that John had confirmed this witness, but it is clear that the religious leaders did not believe the truth that John had confirmed.
John 5:34-36 continues,
34 But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. 35 He was the lamp burning and was shining, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.
These words seem to imply that John had already been executed. Because of John’s great popularity among the people, the religious leaders pretended to “rejoice for a while in his light,” even though they remained suspicious and were not unhappy when Herod executed John.
In the end, John’s witness was only as good as his ability to discern the mind of the Father. Before John ever bore witness of Jesus, he bore witness of the Father. That is what validated his witness of Jesus and also the genuineness of his prophetic calling. Hence, the Father’s witness is greater even than John’s. And how did the Father bear witness of Jesus? It was “the very works that I do.” In fact, the healing of the invalid was the witness of the Father.
John 5:37, 38 says,
37 And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.
All eight miracle-signs in the Gospel of John, including the third where He healed the invalid, were designed to manifest the glory of the Father in the earth (John 2:11). His glory is manifested through the law of the double witness, as men on earth bear witness of the glory of heaven and implement it in the earth. In this way, heaven comes to earth and “the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3).
The opposite of glory (or light) is darkness. Those who walk in darkness are those who “do not believe Him whom He sent.” These are not (yet) the Father’s witnesses. Nonetheless, because Jesus was lifted up (on the cross) as the serpent in the wilderness, He will eventually drag all men to Himself (John 12:32). God’s New Covenant oath will be fulfilled, for the will of God will yet prove to be stronger than the most resistant will of man on earth.