With that powerful scene in mind, how forcefully vivid does our assurance in the final resurrection become! When an event that has actually occurred is understood to be representative, its symbolism becomes more than just a verbal expression of ideas but an acting out of them as well.
One of the most beautiful things Jesus ever said was “I am the vine; you are the branches” (John 15:5). Were an artist to paint a picture of vine and branches on his canvas, you would have a picture of the essential union of Christ and believers, but still only a picture.
But let us say you were looking at a particular grapevine and came to understand that God planted it for the specific purpose of serving as an analogy to you of your union with Him. Think of how much more impressive your sense of the union between Christ and believers would become!
In the same way, the white robes seen on the multitude in Revelation, while a symbol of their final resurrection glory, were only a picture, for they did not yet actually exist. But the situations in the Calvary graveyard were actual instances of death destroyed for a specific time and natural life restored in the grave—instances of God’s omnipotence working amid human decay and producing restoration. Those revived bodies of saints walking the streets of Jerusalem were designed by God as a representation, a foreshadowing of immortality and eternal glory, but as actual occurrences they also demonstrated the certainty of what they represented.
Grandeur of the plan
Furthermore, what an amazing impression is made upon us of the grandeur of God’s plan! When we consider that those saints did not have the body “sown in weakness” and “raised in power” (1 Corinthians 15:43), God’s purpose in making the final resurrection a beautiful expression of the unity of the Body of Christ, the church, is clarified.
“Those who belong to him” (1 Corinthians 15:23). No member of the Body will be glorified before another. Its eye, its hand, its foot, its greatest and its least, whether the remains be under the snows of Greenland or the burning soil of Africa, they shall together be ushered into the fullness of eternal life.
At that time the whole Body, drawn from throughout the ages, shall come forth at exactly the same moment in a perfect harmony of beauty and glory. Another lesson is that only in the personal deliverance of Christ Himself are His people delivered. The saints of Calvary rose from the dead only after and because Christ Himself rose from the dead. “They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city” (Matthew 27:53).
While it is true that their revival was not their final resurrection and their restored bodies were not yet created like His glorious resurrection body, yet they still lived in their restored bodies, the magnificent symbol of the final resurrection. Being such a symbol, they are immediately and deliberately placed in view following Christ’s resurrection. They went forth from their graves, so to speak, on the very heels of Jesus.
They followed Him as meaning follows language, as vision follows light. In other words, only by extinguishing the curse of sin and conquering it in His own person has Jesus Christ succeeded in removing it from His people.
Since He was the One designated to bear the sins for us all, had He not personally been declared righteous before the Father through the accepted offering of His perfect sufferings, we could have never been justified by faith. Had He not achieved true resurrection Himself, neither would we have been able to. Consequently, His people are in Him and are one with Him. His death was their death; His life is their life. “Because I live, you also will live,” He said (John 14:19).
Oh, the immeasurable assurance of our promised heritage! We are joined with Christ in the same bundle of life. Even now “your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3) and a time is coming when “[He] will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). Every saint—because everyone who believes in Jesus is a saint—will rise to live an everlasting life and will never be condemned.