Imagine the somberness in Jerusalem over the weekend. Peter’s despondent. The religious leaders are rejoicing. The Roman soldier is still marveling. Mary Magdalene hasn’t stopped crying. The townsfolk are going about business as usual. Jesus’ mother can’t stop thinking about her Son dying on that tree. And His followers can’t process what happened. Depression is growing.
Hope for the future is gone, buried in the tomb with Jesus.
Scripture tells us that on Friday afternoon, “Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid” (Mark 15:47).
We also read that the next day the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate and reminded him of Jesus’ claim that “After three days I will rise again” (Matthew 27:63). So Pilate gave “orders for the tomb to be made secure until the third day” (Matthew 27:63). Pilate did this so that the disciples would not come and steal the body and tell the people that He had risen from the dead (Matthew 27:64). We then read in Matthew 27:65-66: “‘Take a guard,’ Pilate answered. ‘Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.’ So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.”
It had been a very dark weekend in the hearts of Jesus’ beloved ones. On Saturday (the Sabbath), they rested as was the custom. The women prepared spices to anoint Jesus’ body.
On Sunday morning, we learn that “Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body” (Mark 16:1). As they walked along, they asked each other who would roll the stone away.
It seems they are still in shock as they would never be able to roll away a stone that weighed close to two tons. But as they were nearing the tomb, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. Upon entering, they saw an angel who informed them that “He is not here! He is risen!” He then told them to go and tell the disciples. When Peter and John arrived, they saw the empty tomb just the way the women explained it.
Here’s the sequence of Jesus’ appearance on Sunday and beyond:
- Mary Magdalene (outside the tomb) (John 20:10-17)
- Peter – it seems he needed his own encounter with Jesus (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5)
- The disciples minus Thomas (Matthew 28:9)
- The two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32)
- A week after the resurrection: Thomas and the other disciples (John 20:26-29)
- Later in Galilee: Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James and John (John 21:1-14)
- Sometime later: 500 brothers at the same time (1 Corinthians 15:6)
- Time is unknown: James (1 Corinthians 15:7)
- Sometime in Galilee on a mountain: Disciples (given the Great Commission) (Matthew 28:16-20)
- Over 40 days: Appeared to the Disciples numerous times giving many convincing proofs that he was alive. (Acts 1:3)
- 40 days later (last and final appearance): Disciples (and possibly others) on the Mt. of Olives. He blessed them and then was lifted from their sight. (Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:9-12)
- After He ascended to heaven: The Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:8)
Aren’t you glad that Jesus stayed for 40 days after His resurrection – and that He appeared to so many – so that we would have concrete proof that He is alive?
The resurrection of Jesus Christ offers us hope. We can know that the sun will shine again.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is at the core of Christianity. Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14). We know that He raised from the dead because many saw Him. And the historical documents have been recorded as accurate.
Since that day, the resurrection has been debated and many have sought to disprove it. Here are a few theories, and why there are problems with them:
- The disciples stole Jesus’ body (Matthew 28:11-15). This theory began the day of the resurrection by the religious leaders. The Jewish people still believe it. Here’s the problem: the disciples were afraid, not bold enough to try a stunt like that. The tomb was heavily guarded with soldiers and a Roman seal. And they would never have been able to roll the stone away.
- Jesus never really died on the cross and the disciples helped Him heal. Here’s the problem: when the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side, blood and water came out. That is a sure sign of death by asphyxiation. Jesus was seen that very night healthy. He would never have healed that fast given the extent of His injuries, the horrible beatings, and the nails that went through the bones in His feet. Surely He would not have been able to walk alongside the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Medical doctors have said that the extent of His injuries would absolutely have caused death.
- Women were the first to see the empty tomb and see Him alive. In that day, women were considered unreliable witnesses. If that were the case and the resurrection was made up, then the men writing about the events would never have included them in the story. Unless it did happen exactly as they say it did.
- The 500 people who saw Him were hallucinating. Experts have said that it would be impossible for that many people (even for 2) to have the same vision or hallucination.
Here are a couple other things to ponder:
- The disciples and witnesses died for this. Would anyone willingly die (and most of the time brutally) for a lie?
- The church (based on the resurrection) grew and is still functioning today.
- The empty grave clothes were in one piece. No one would have been able to get those clothes off Jesus’ body without tearing them apart. And if the disciples had stolen the body, why would they take the time to strip Jesus of His grave clothes? Wouldn’t they be in a hurry?
- Here’s the best thing: The Jews actually admit an empty tomb. In Matthew 28:11-15, they paid people to say that Jesus’ body was stolen. By doing this, they admit the tomb was empty with no explanation.
In the end, the resurrection cannot be disputed. Those who try have never done their research. Lee Strobel and Josh McDowell – both former atheists – tried to disprove the resurrection unsuccessfully. In the end, they both came to know Christ and now preach around the world the truth about the resurrection. Lee Strobel’s story has recently been made into a movie, THE CASE FOR CHRIST. It’s definitely worth seeing.
So, my question to you is: Aren’t you happy that you serve a LIVING Savior? Because of the resurrection, you and I will one day be resurrected as well. We will live with Jesus in eternity forever.
Do you believe that Jesus was raised to life again? If not, ask Him to reveal it to you. Research Scripture and look at the all the compelling evidence. Without belief in this truth, you cannot have the hope of eternal life. If you do believe and haven’t received Christ as your Savior yet, here’s a prayer you can pray:
I believe that you, Jesus, died, was buried, and rose again the third day.
I know that I am a sinner and I ask you to forgive me of my sins.
And I accept you as my personal Savior. I invite you to come into my life
and be Lord of my life. I choose to live for you the rest of my life.
In Jesus Name, Amen
If you just prayed that prayer, please share in the comment section or send me a message.
One last thing. Please write in the comment section what the resurrection of Jesus Christ means to you.