On the first day of the week, Sunday – Resurrection Sunday – at early dawn while it was still mostly dark, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, who had all come with Jesus from Galilee, went back to the tomb where his body was laid on Friday evening. They took spices and ointments, presumably to finish the burial preparations. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?”
God would help them!
We know from Matthew’s Gospel the earth shook as an angel rolled back the huge stone.
“His (the angel’s) appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.” Matthew 28:3-4
Men had placed that stone, even though it may have weighed between one and three tons. Men had sealed it in place, most likely with a cord attached both to the stone and to the tomb, with wax imprinted with the Roman seal anchoring both ends so that tampering could be detected. Men stood guard over the entrance to make certain Jesus’ body remained in the tomb. But God sent an angel who came and rolled the stone away!
The women were probably as terrified by the angel and the earthquake as the guards had been…
“But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 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. Lo, I have told you.” . Matthew 28:5-8
And they went into the tomb, but they did not find the Lord’s body.
“While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles; but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. Luke 24:4-11; Mark 16:1-11
There it is!
The friends and followers of Jesus’ did not believe them. He had worked side by side with these men for three years. He told them what to expect. “The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise.”
It was the third day. An angel of God told the women in their group, “He is not here. He has risen!” and they thought it was all a lie!
How many people do you know who think it is all an idle tale?
What does Resurrection Sunday mean to us in 2015? Cute bunnies and baby chicks? Colorfully decorated eggs and chocolate rabbits? One of the two days in the calendar year we wouldn’t dream of missing church?
I want to know what happened to these men who did not believe.
Mary Magdalene made a mad dash to tell Peter and John.
“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have laid him.” John 20:2
Peter, always the first to jump right in no matter what the situation, followed by John, ran for the tomb. But John outran Peter and stooping to look inside, saw the linen burial cloths lying there, but he did not enter the tomb. John 20:3-4
Peter actually went inside the tomb. He saw the burial cloths.
I’ve heard teaching that says these strips of linen, stiff with aloes, spices and ointments were still in the shape of a body; a cocoon rather than a pile of unwrapped rags. Possibly. I’m no Greek scholar, so if there are clues to this in the original text I wouldn’t find them. I can believe it might be true. I wish I could prove it true, but I couldn’t see it in my text.
What I did see was a brief note in the text…
”he (Peter) saw the cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself.” John 20:6-7
If someone had stolen Jesus’ body, the strips of linen and the burial cloth or napkin (a handkerchief used in swathing the head of a corpse) would have most likely been missing or at least strewn across the floor. But the napkin was neatly rolled up and laid aside, separate from the linen strips. There is no natural explanation for a folded “napkin” inside an empty, sealed and guarded tomb. This was super-natural. Jesus was alive when he exited the tomb and he rolled up the burial napkin and laid it apart from the rest so they would know…
HE IS ALIVE!
All four Gospels are clear in their records of Jesus arising bodily from the dead. They differ slightly in their accounts of the appearances of the risen Christ. But while the specific times may be somewhat murky, the fact remains; He appeared to Mary Magdalene, near the empty tomb, then to the eleven disciples in Galilee. There are eye-witness accounts of conversations with Thomas, Peter, James, John and two travelers on the road to Emmaus. Sometime later He prepared breakfast for the fishermen, Peter and John.
Remember His words?
“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Matthew 26:16-20
But some doubted!
Remember His Words?
“After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they sat at table; and he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Amen.” Mark 16:12-20
But they did not believe…and He upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart.
I think every person is accompanied by the signs of what they believe!
Remember His WORDS?
“While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Luke 24:36-51 NIV
He has finished the work of the Father, sent the Holy Spirit as Comforter, Counselor and Friend, and now lives to make intercession for each of us.
Nothing more need be said.
Accept His Words!
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