Today is Resurrection sunday, the third day after Christ was crucified and He rose again. The gospels record that, on the third day after His crucifixion, at dawn, some ladies went to the tomb to attend to His body: “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him” (Mark 16:1).
While with His disciples, Christ spoke often of His death and resurrection (Mark 8:31). However, the events after His crucifixion gives us an indication His own disciples didn’t believe it when He spoke of His resurrection. His death dashed their hopes. They thought He was the deliverer of Israel from Roman oppression (Luke 21:13-21). But here, the one they have sunk all their hopes in has been brutally murdered. Their hope was gone. The women who went to the tomb encountered an angel and the conversation points us to three proofs of the resurrection:
He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 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 .” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:6-10).
1: The Empty Tomb:
“He is not here…Come, see the place where he lay”
These words point us to the truth of the risen Messiah. There was no body to be anointed by the women. The tomb was empty. Again, so the women will be certain of the angel’s proclamation, he bid them further “Come, see the place where he lay”. The Empty tomb is there to prove Jesus resurrected. The empty tomb is very crucial a sign of the resurrection because the events surrounding the burial of Jesus makes it impossible for the tomb to be empty apart from a bodily resurrection. Before He was buried, there was the fear His body will be stolen to prove a resurrection by the disciples. So the chief priest and the Pharisees approached Pilate to ensure maximum security was available: “Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard ( Matthew 27:65-66).
By the gospels narration, there is no reason to believe the disciples stole Jesus’s body to fake a resurrection. These were men who were terrified and were no where to be found during His crucifixion. Peter had denied Him thrice and from the conversation on the road to Emmaus, the disciples were expecting no resurrection. How could they, who were not expecting a resurrection and had lost all hope, spoof a resurrection story?
He resurrected. The empty tomb is proof.
2: Jesus’ Own Words
“for he has risen, as he said”
If we trust Christ, we must trust His words. The angel’s announcement carried weight. He reminded the women Jesus resurrected as He promised. Indeed, one of the charges against Him was that He had said they should destroy the temple in Jerusalem and in three days He will raise it up again (John 2:19).
Later John will tell us that, when Jesus spoke about the temple, He was talking about His body:
But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken (John 2:21-22).
Do we believe in the words of Jesus? Every word He spoke? Then His resurrection must be believed.
The bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ which we celebrate in this season as Easter is one of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith. He died and rose again thus reconciling sinful humanity to the Father through the efficacy of the finished work on Calvary. He died in our place as a ransom for our sins. He appeased God’s wrath for the punishment of our sins. (See Isaiah 53:4-6).His death and resurrection paved the way for everyone who will believe in Him to have a relationship with the father and also to have eternal life.
3: Eye Witnesses
“he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him”… And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!”
Jesus didn’t just resurrect and vanish into thin air. He actually revealed Himself to His disciples and some other people. Paul, recounting the death and resurrection of Jesus said:
he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1Corinthians 15:4-8)
Paul, prior to his conversion, he was Saul, a vicious enemy of the Christian faith. However, he embraced the Christian faith and became its number one advocate. What happened? He experienced the resurrected Christ. He became an eye witness of what he was opposing. On a journey to Damascus to apprehend Christians and execute them, he met with the Lord Jesus.(Acts 9). This same enemy of Christ and Christianity, later on wrote to defend the resurrection (1Corinthians 15:12-18).
There is no hope for the Christian without the resurrection. But because He rose, we have cause to be hopeful.
Because I live, you also will live (John 14:19).