Easter. If it were not for this time of year, where we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, what hope would we have? You see, the hope we have is grounded on the truth of the resurrection.
23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
The resurrection is central to Christianity. Understanding what happened after the crucifixion, is just as important to us. So today, I want to go through the Gospels and weave together the story for better understanding and comprehension. We will start in Mark 16.
1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”
Faith. The disciples had been made aware of and reminded that Jesus would be put to death and would be resurrected on the third day on three separate occasions outlined in the Gospels (Matt 16:21-23, Matt 17:22-23, Matt 20:17-19). Why were the disciples not waiting at the tomb on the third day awaiting His resurrection? Were they still afraid of being identified as His disciples and put to death also? Where was their faith?
Whatever the cause, we find the two Mary’s and Salome walking to the tomb, taking care of their duty, ready to prepare the body of Christ properly. But they were in for a surprise.d
2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
He is not here for He has risen as He said. THIS is our HOPE! But notice, the women did not have the same hope…yet. They though someone had taken the body of Christ.
2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes. 11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.
Peter and John are made aware of Jesus’ empty tomb. While they are looking in awe, they understand Jesus is not there. But, scripture says they still did not understand that He must be resurrected and they returned to be with the other disciples. Oh, but imagine Mary’s despair again as she is weeping, not knowing where Jesus body has been placed. Until… Jesus speaks to her. He’s ALIVE!
Now, while we know He is resurrected, the guards must relay to the chief priests what has just happened. The plot for a cover up begins.
11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.
The chief priests could not afford to allow the resurrection story to be spread throughout the countryside. Instead, they chose to pay off the guards to tell everyone His body was taken. Surely, it had to have been stolen. That was what was logical, right? But…Jesus wouldn’t let them have peace. He appeared 12 times over 40 days, once to 500 people. He was in a physical form, yet glorified, and proving His resurrection was real.
13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Jesus, while in a physical body, was not recognizable to those He presented Himself to at first glace. It was not until He revealed His nature, His Deity, that he could be recognized. Yet not everyone believed the story of Jesus resurrected body being seen. Some had to see for themselves.
24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Thomas would not believe what others had seen, he had to see Him for himself. And Jesus obliged. Not only did he see Jesus, but he was given the opportunity to feel the wounds so there would be no doubt. At times, I often think we, too, have problems believing until He reveals Himself to us personally.
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The disciples are given specific instructions. Go. Make disciples. Baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Teach commandments, and don’t forget - I’ll be with you always. Those instructions are just as relevant today to us, as believers, as they were to the disciples that day. The mission has not changed.
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
The Bible, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 has been written so that we may believe in Jesus Christ, the resurrected and LIVING Son of God - so that we too can have an opportunity of eternal life. How can we have that opportunity?
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
Scriptures tell us Jesus died, but was raised on the third day for the specific purpose of providing a way that WE could be forgiven of our sins by accepting Him as our Savior.
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.