Welcome to Resurrection Sunday. For those who believe that Jesus was the fulfillment of Messianic prophesy, today is an exciting celebration! While Friday was the day that displayed Jesus’ humanity with the taste of death, today is the day He truly showed His deity by rising from the dead. Let us continue the account from the Bible illustrated with my drawings created for the Generations of Grace Sunday school curriculum.
As the Jews were strict with their traditions, they could not have bodies remaining on crosses on the Sabbath day (John 19:31) which was the day following Christ’s crucifixion. So they requested that Pilate have the legs broken of Jesus and the two other criminals that were crucified with Him to hasten their deaths (suffocation would likely occur). As Jesus had already expired, His legs were not broken which fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 34:20 in the Old Testament.
A wealthy man named Joseph from Arimathea (Matthew 27:57-60) offered to take Jesus’ body and bury it in the stone tomb he had planned to have himself buried in one day. A great stone was rolled in front of the doorway. The following day, the chief priests and Pharisees remembered Christ’s prophecy that He would rise from the dead on the third day after His death. They asked Pilate for guards be placed by the tomb so that Christ’s followers couldn’t sneak in, steal the body, and claim Jesus had risen. Pilate agreed and established a round-the-clock watch. (Matthew 27:62-66)
According to accounts in Luke 24, on the morning of the third day, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James, were among several women who went down early to the tomb hoping to get in to treat Christ’s body with spices. Even the most faithful such as these did not believe Jesus would conquer death. When they arrived, they were shocked to discover that the huge stone that blocked the doorway had been rolled away. When they looked into the tomb, they saw there was no body. Two angels spoke to them saying, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen…” (Luke 24:5-6).
If one looks at all four of the Gospel books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), one would see all the details of what occurred at the tomb. An earthquake shook, angels appeared which scared the guards silly (Matthew 28 says they became like “dead men”), and an angel rolled back the stone. The guards took off and were later paid for their silence (Matthew 28:11-15) while the women ran back to tell the disciples that the Lord was RISEN!
Apparently even Jesus’ own disciples never believed He would rise again, for the news from the women was met with disbelief. Two of the men ran back to the tomb with them to see for themselves, after which Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene in the cemetary (John 20:11-18). He started appearing to others as well that day such as to Peter (Luke 24:34), a couple traveling to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32), and to the disciples in Galilee (Luke 24:36-49) where He appeared in a room that had all entrances shut.
That one surprised them, but to assure His disciples He wasn’t a vision, Jesus showed them his hand and foot wounds, and even ate some broiled fish and honey (Luke 24:41-43). Christ continued to make appearances to His faithful after that, even to over five hundred people at once (I Corinthians 15:6-7).
After forty days of these visits, Jesus had one last talk with His remaining eleven disciples (Judas had committed suicide under the guilt of his betrayal in Matthew 27:3-10). Acts 1:2-11 talks about Jesus’ parting words encouraging them to continue showing how only He “is the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but..” through Him. (John 14:6) Then He just ascended into heaven promising to one day physically return. That day is what Christians continue to look forward to even now.
In ancient times, God demanded of His people that a blood sacrifice was to be made for the forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9 speaks of this, and specifically in verse 22 it says, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” The Jews followed this practice with animal sacrifice, most often using the most perfect lamb from their flocks to do so. Throughout Scripture, Jesus is referred to as “the Lamb of God” as He was the New Testament replacement for animal sacrifice. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many;and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:28)
How does one get in on the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice? Acts 16:31 says, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” and Romans 10:9 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” It’s open to anyone in whatever situation your life has led you to at this point.
This concludes my posts on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that took place this week all those many years ago. As you can see, His sacrifice and the miracle of His return from the grave are together what defines true Christianity, and what makes Easter Sunday so special.