We have just seen the strong emphasis that was placed on the celebrations held on the last day of Tabernacles. In John’s Gospel that day was called “the last day, the great day of the feast.” In this chapter we shall have to look more closely at the expression“the last day.”
In John’s Gospel this expression occurs no less that six times, four of which are in chapter six, so we must first of all examine what our Lord said in that chapter.
Verses 39-40. “This is my Father’s will . . . that of all that He has given me I should lose nothing but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent me, that every one who sees the Son, and believes on Him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Verse 44. “No man can come to me except the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Verse 54. “Whoso eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
These latter words were a sore trial to those who stood by and listened, and we are told that many went back and followed the Lord no more as a result of what He said. But the Lord made it quite clear as to the meaning of His remark, when He said, “It is the spirit that brings forth life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and life.” (verse 63) We may therefore compare this message with that of the rite of circumcision. Each has the same teaching, that of death and eternal life.
In chapter 11 verse 24 we read of Martha’s comment about her dead brother Lazarus. “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” But the Lord had good news for her. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” We saw that the Lord fulfilled the Covenant of Circumcision at His resurrection, and now He speaks of Himself as the Resurrection, even though He had not yet been through His own baptism of death. We shall have occasion to return to the raising of Lazarus in a future chapter, but for now we are only concentrating on the fact that all these references in John connect resurrection with the last day.
Our final reference is in 12:48 “He who rejects me and receives not my words, has one that judges him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” This verse is a corrective to those who may think that all will be sweetness and light in the days after the Millennium. As we learn from Revelation 20:7-8, “When the thousand years have expired, Satan shall be loosed out of prison, and shall go forth to deceive the nations.”
The teaching about resurrection and the last day was not a new subject in Jesus’ day. It was “as old as the hills,” as they say. One of the earliest writings in the Old Testament was the Book of Job, and in 19:25 we read, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth, and though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and not a stranger.” The Hebrew word for “latter” is ACHERON, and its true meaning may be seen in Isaiah 44:6 “I am the first and the LAST.” Job was persuaded that his Redeemer would stand upon the earth at the last day. Therefore he had learned this by faith, and was fully persuaded of it. He said, “If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time I will wait until my change comes.” (14:14)
Pious Jews of those early days knew about resurrection. Jesus grasped hold of their hope and expectation and showed them that He was the embodiment of, and the power generated in resurrection. And that it was connected with the LAST DAY, the eighth millennial day. That is why He rose on Sunday, the eighth day, to reinforce the teaching.