By the time of Jesus, even if disputed, there was an expectation of resurrection in his community. One example comes from the account of Lazarus, where the mourning sister spoke with Jesus:
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 
Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[a] Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 
She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah,[b] the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” (John 11: 23-27, NRSV) I think Martha was flummoxed by Jesus' astounding claim. She had a belief in a "last day" resurrection (noun; anastaseos) and in the person of Jesus.

Lazarus' sisters knew well enough that, had he but arrived in time, Jesus could have saved their brother from his death-causing illness. That Jesus would, then and there, be resurrection and life for Lazarus was an unimagined blessing. Clearly Jesus was saying he himself would raise (verb; anistemi) Lazarus, and in fact Jesus will raise all who believe in him. There is an overlap between this miracle and Martha's "resurrection on the last day." (The chapter describes Jesus calling Lazarus out of his tomb, struggling with his funerary wrappings.)

Martha and Mary seemed unaware of what Jesus had said in the Sabbath-breaker disputation following the healing of the man at the pool of Bethzatha. Here is part of it:
“Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:25-29, NRSV). Although Jesus’ claim is most obviously related to a “last day resurrection”, it does accord with what he did at Bethany. Dead Lazarus heard his voice!

"In their graves" - surely metaphorical language for almost all instances. The presence of physical remains and their transformation was integral to the described instances.   

A contrasting (absurd?) conversation portrays those who did not hold with the resurrection idea:
And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man[a] must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”
Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven
(Mark 12:18-25, ESV; also in Matthew 22 and Luke 20). These men definitely did not expect a "last day resurrection". (Apparently they claimed to hold to "classical" Jewish beliefs. The content of the contemporary belief can be further explored in ancient sources not included in the Bible, eg, see reference below.)  No record of a specific response to Jesus' challenge.

One time Jesus sent this reassuring reply for his incarcerated relative, John (“the baptiser”): “Go and tell John what you have heard and seen. The blind are now able to see, and the lame can walk. People with leprosy[a] are being healed, and the deaf can hear. The dead are raised to life, and the poor are hearing the good news (Matthew 11:4-5, CEV). Hopefully John was then able to face his end with some assurance that God’s time was to hand, and Jesus was "The One". Jesus here reflects words probably familiar from the Old Testament's Isaiah (Isaiah 35:5-6), which I take as deliberate on his part. His oblique claim, “dead are raised” (not “I am raising”), is not found in that Isaiah reference. (However,  Isaiah 26:19 fits with the notion of the dead being raised [as do Ezekiel 37 and Daniel 12:2].)
Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
    You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light,
    and the earth will give birth to the dead (Isaiah 26:19, ESV). Was it known that Jesus was going about raising the dead? Some (at least) are recorded - see following. The OT also contains instances of dead persons being returned to life.

The Gospel records that Jesus returned people to (everyday) life. They were: his friend Lazarus (John 11) above; the only son of a widow (Luke 7: 11-17);  the twelve year old daughter of a synagogue official (Luke 8:52-55 - also Matthew and Mark). These people, however, were not finished with death, I think.

One report on risings from the dead is unique to Matthew, though Mark similarly reports the cry and the "curtain". Matthew's additional detail has no conclusion and is thus more puzzling.
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised (verb; egeiro), and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection (noun; egersis - only NT use) they went into the holy city and appeared to many (Matthew 27:50-53, ESV). The Gospel reports a moment beyond telling, with inexplicable events to accompany it. There is nothing to compare with these raisings; Nestle-Aland suggest an allusion to the Ezekiel 37 vision of dry bones being made into a living army to reoccupy the land (Novum Testamentum Graece,  Edn 27).

The  word (verb; egeiro) was also used of Jesus’ resurrection. One resurrection-day occurrence is in Matthew 28:6 (similarly in Mark and Luke). Versions differ in translation of Mathew 28:6, as for example:
…he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay (ESV).
…He has risen, just as he said he would! Come and see the place where he was lying (NIRV).
…he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay (NRSV).
(Note: NRSV is supported by the passive verb form.) In this instance the difference is due to translation choices.

Luke in his report of the moment uses in addition another word (verb; anistemi):
that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again” Luke 24:7 (NRSV).

So, Jesus’ resurrection happening was described in several terms, both active and passive. Another example comes from the varying Synoptic Gospel reports of Jesus’ prediction of his death and resurrection:
on the third day be raised (egeiro; Matthew 16:21, ESV; also Luke 9:22).
and after three days rise again (anistemi; Mark 8:31, ESV).

The Gospel of John also portrays Jesus asserting the active role in his resurrection:
No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded” (John 10:18, NLT). That clear statement was heard at the time as very controversial, as was this apparently easily misunderstood earlier claim:
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise (egeiro) it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple,[a] and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised (egeiro) from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken (John 2:19-22, ESV).  This pericope then has both perspectives: I will raise/he was raised.

The message went out - Jesus was not someone who could be held by death! (According to Acts, similarly to the following, this truth was repeated to many groups of hearers.) Here is how Peter is reported at the earliest moment:
But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. But God released him from the horrors of death and raised (anistemi) him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip (Acts 2:23-24, NLT). His death was real but that could not be the end of the story.

Later Paul the missionary came to Athens, with its ancient culture of valuing philosophy. There he attracted attention by the outlandish claim that Jesus had risen.
Also some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with him. Some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign divinities.” (This was because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.) (Acts 17:18, NRSV). Before an educated audience,  Paul shortly repeated his (as it appeared) strange and unacceptable assertion. (The hearers might have coped with being lumped with wilful human ignorance!) The final straw came in these words:
While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31, NRSV)  The Athenian audience as a whole were not going to be taken in by this sort of talk! God raised a man from the dead indeed! For many (not all) it was a meeting-closer.

Paul sent to the believers who gathered in the imperial capital his “mission statement”, known as Romans.  He started this way:
Paul, a servant[a] of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit[b] of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, (Romans 1:1-4, NRSV). Here, then, is a systematic starting point for the news about Jesus.

Paul has much to say about the death of Jesus. He also discussed Jesus’ resurrection. (The word [noun; anastaseos] for resurrection or rising occurs 41 times in the NT, often about Jesus.) Above, as to the Athenians, his emphasis is that Jesus rose, which demonstrated that he is Son of God. The versions show us in their text and margins that translation of the last verse is not completely obvious. (Paul is comfortable with Jesus also being son of David [i.e., through Joseph] - thus Paul reflects the genealogies in Matthew and Luke.) In the same document Paul makes the point that Jesus’ resurrection is unlike anything previously seen: Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. (Romans 6:8-10, ESV). Jesus will never again be faced by death.

Jesus the Christ has finished with death. Such a resurrection of a crucified Saviour-Messiah was just impossible to credit. A transformed Christ rising to endless resurrection life days later does not fit with universal experience.  Anyway, what is a resurrection life - where can it be witnessed? (Jairus' daughter, the widow's son, Lazarus, seem all to have been renewed flesh and blood, subsequently to die.)

Those who directly experienced these moments had a lot to absorb! We read of Jesus giving them this reassurance:
Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39, NRSV).  I  think we would say "flesh and blood". No mention of blood - I do not know if that has significance in itself. Certainly we are shown rising/raised Jesus leaving the wrappings undisturbed, walking and talking, being unrecognised, entering locked rooms, inviting touch, eating with his friends, finally received from sight, leaving no physical remains.

Jesus not only rose, he himself is the resurrection!

It is unsurprising that language is hardly adequate to the task of telling this story of Jesus risen, which is assuredly not simple. Until now no other transformed resurrection has occurred. They are still awaited. (How can resurrection happen for those whose remains are long "totally" lost to [human] view? They are gone with no discernible trace remaining, no longer literally "in their graves". Paul discusses that in 1 Corinthians chapter 15.)

The resurrection of Jesus was a focus of the message to Jews, and to non-Jews. The NT writers report the resurrection in terms of Jesus rising as conqueror of death and also in terms of God raising his Son and thus endorsing him for ever as Saviour and Lord. He did what he said he was doing and is truly Saviour. He is able always to save all who trust him. Those who belong to him need have no fear of what follows their death, nor of whatever may befall their human remains.

For discussion of documented Jewish resurrection views contemporary with Jesus, see: K.L. Anderson, "Resurrection" in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. J.B.Green, J.K.Brown and N.Perrin (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2013, Ed. 2) 774-789 

Scripture quotations marked (CEV) are from the Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.
Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NIRV) are taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL READER'S VERSION®.Copyright © 1996, 1998 Biblica. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of Biblica.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NRSV) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Note: Bible text sourced through Biblegateway.com. I retain in the publishers' text the references to footnotes where they occur. You can check them out by viewing the text on-line. Often they are the same in different translations.

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