Happy Resurrection Day!
Welcome, and thank you for joining us on this greatest of Christian celebrations!
Today we are wrapping up a four week series that took a look at the events of the final week of the earthly life of Jesus.
Three weeks ago we discussed the triumphal entry and all of its significance, and the fact that it happened on a Monday instead of a Sunday.
Two weeks ago we discussed the final meal Jesus had with his followers.
Last week we covered the 15 hours from the time Jesus prayed “Not My will” to the point where he said “It is Finished!”, and died.
And that is where we will pick it up today.
If you remember, it was a Friday, and this Friday happened to be the date of Passover that year. Which means that as Jesus died at 3 in the afternoon, the priests were just beginning to slaughter all the passover lambs. Jesus himself was the ultimate passover lamb that, as John the Baptist said, “took away the sins of the world,” putting an end to the need for all the animal sacrifices as was indicated by God Himself ripping the giant curtain that separated man from God in the Temple. Last week I covered the amazing implications of that.
And so here we are. Jesus is dead. Earthquakes happen, and the sun finally starts shining again after being dark for three hours.
His followers are dismayed.
They can’t believe what just happened.
Meanwhile, the religious leaders who had him killed go to Pilate to try to speed along the process. Apparently they didn’t realize Jesus was already dead.
31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crossesduring the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.
The “Day of Preparation” was simply what they called Friday. For the Jews of that time, they didn’t really have names for the days of the week, but instead referred to days in relation to the Sabbath day. The Sabbath Day was on what we would call Saturday and began at Sundown on Friday. The Sabbath was a day, from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, where they pretty much couldn’t do anything. That’s not how God had designed the Sabbath, but it’s what it had become under the rule of the religious elite of the day. So, because they couldn’t do anything on the Sabbath, they spent the day before the sabbath preparing for it, like cooking food and getting anything from the store they needed and such. So, the bible authors noting it as Preparation Day is how we know this happened on a Friday.
And this particular Sabbath was special because it fell during the 8 day combined holiday of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Death by crucifixion was usually a long process, sometimes lasting days. And even when the criminals died, the Romans would leave the bodies hanging to rot or be eaten by scavengers – presumably as a deterrent to other criminals.
The Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath because of an OT law…
Deuteronomy 21:22-23 (NIV)
22 If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, 23 you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.
So, even though they had no problem causing the death of an innocent man, they wanted to make sure not to defile this special Sabbath.
32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.
As I said crucifixion victims could survive for a few days, as most were not beaten to the extent Jesus was. The breaking of legs made it so they could no longer push themselves up to breath and would die within minutes from suffocation.
33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
The stab of the spear would have been through the lungs into the heart to ensure death if the victim wasn’t already dead. The reason that blood and water flowed is explained well in this bit from “GotQuestions.org”:
Prior to death, the sustained rapid heartbeat caused by hypovolemic shock brought on by the extreme loss of blood causes fluid to gather in the sack around the heart and around the lungs. This gathering of fluid in the membrane around the heart is called pericardial effusion, and the fluid gathering around the lungs is called pleural effusion. This explains why, after Jesus died and a Roman soldier thrust a spear through Jesus’ side (probably His right side, piercing both the lungs and the heart), blood and water came from His side.
So, Jesus was indeed dead, after only six hours on the cross. No doubt his death was accelerated by the intense beatings beforehand, especially the scourging, but it is also true that Jesus, being in full control, simply chose when to give up his life so that it would be at the proper time for him to be the proper and final Passover lamb.
Just as he said earlier in John:
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.
The story continues…
38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen.This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
Matthew adds that the tomb was actually owned by Joseph, and was probably originally purchased for his own use.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke include the details that a large stone was rolled in front of the opening to the tomb and that a group of women were there watching the whole thing.
The reason why such care was taken in recording the details of the burial is because they were predicted in the famous Isaiah 53 passage that effectively describes almost every detail of the death of Christ.
This particular detail is found in verse 9:
His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
Basically, by being killed on a cross as a criminal, his normal fate would be a common grave with the the other criminals or possibly burned. But instead a rich man took his body and put it in his own tomb.
As the sun set on this fateful day, no doubt the sprits of many were quite low. Just 24 hours earlier the 12 disciples had been eating with Jesus, celebrating the Passover together. Sure, Jesus had always been talking about how he was going to suffer and die and such, but none of them really believed him.
- He could raise the dead,
- make blind people see,
- paralyzed people walk,
- cast out demons.
- He could walk on water!
- How in the world could he be dead?
It all happened so fast. One minute Jesus is praying in the garden as the disciples try to stay awake, the next he’s being taken away by soldiers and all the disciples bolt, afraid they would take them too. Peter follows to watch the trial only to deny even knowing him. And then they all watch, likely from a distance, as Jesus was tried, tortured, crucified, and killed all within a matter of hours.
Now he is dead and buried.
And everyone knows that people don’t come back from the dead….
even if they say they are going to.
Nothing is recorded about what the disciples did the day after Jesus’ death. That’s because they literally didn’t do anything. It was the Sabbath. Everyone pretty much stayed home and sat on their hands all day to make sure not to accidentally do any work. Imagine the mental torture. The hope of your world had just been killed like a common criminal, and now you can’t do anything. You can’t even go look at the grave.
Those hours must have been hell. I imagine all the disciples, especially Peter, probably didn’t sleep a wink. Not because they were anticipating Jesus appearing alive, but because they were likely afraid they would be next, and how do you sleep when the person you had banked your whole life on was just murdered in front of your eyes while you ran and hid?
The guilt must have been incredible…
The Religious Leaders didn’t have the same problem. Apparently they had no sense of guilt in this but instead they were afraid of something else. Only Matthew records these events.
62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
The “seal” was likely made of wax that would break if the stone was moved. It was punishable by death to break a Roman seal.
The “guard” was most likely a detachment of a few solders who would stand guard outside the tomb, likely sleeping in shifts since it was going to be a day or two.
These Religious Leaders must have been very desperate because what they just did was totally against their laws they were so careful to obey to the finest detail (at least in the sight of others). For one, they went into a Gentile building – which that alone would make them ceremonially unclean, but to also do this kind of thing on a Sabbath was even worse. They had succeeded in killing Jesus, but they wanted to leave nothing to chance in allowing this “deception” to continue. Clearly they had higher regard for the scared disciples than the disciples had for themselves.
It’s ironically quite fortunate they did this because it actually adds more credibility to what happens next than if there were no guards or seal.
The stage was now set for the greatest miracle the world has ever seen!
While the four gospel accounts of the first Easter morning are not identical (which I’ll discuss in a minute), they all begin the same way…
It was early in the morning on the first day of the week…
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb
From these opening statements we can clearly see that the events of that day (as far as humans actually observed) began right around dawn on Sunday. (the first day of the week, the day after Sabbath)
Now, this might be confusing for some, because Sunday is not three days after Friday. In fact, it was really only about 39 hours. Jesus died at 3pm on Friday, and is alive again at 6am on Sunday. How is that three days? Well, it’s not. Jesus didn’t rise AFTER three days – he rose ON the third day, as he predicted several times. And if you remember from week 1 of this series, they counted days differently than we do. First, for them a calendar day begins at sundown. Second, when they count days, they count inclusively.
So, Jesus died at 3pm during the daytime of Friday (Day 1). When the sun went down it was now Saturday (Day 2). When the sun went down on Saturday night, it was now Sunday..the Third Day. If that’s confusing, I’d be happy to talk with you about it later but for now we must move on.
So, it’s early Sunday morning and a group of women make their way to the tomb of Jesus.
As you can see from these four accounts, each author describes the group of women differently. Mark specifically names three women. Matthew names two, John one, and Luke doesn’t list any names initially but later lists four women. Some like to call this a contradiction, but it’s not. The simple explanation is that this is exactly how eye-witness testimony always works. Some will notice or give more or less details than another witness simply based on their point of view.
I wanted to point that out before we continue, because if you read these four accounts the rest of the way separately you might walk away thinking they don’t match up at all. But you need to keep in mind that these authors were not writing a novel or a movie script where every detail must be specified down to the color shirt someone is wearing. They are each telling a story that, except for Luke, they lived through and they are telling it like they remember, focusing more on the most important details.
Now I’m sure that if women like my wife, instead of men, wrote the Gospels they would be chock full of all those fine details…and they’d be thousands of pages long. But since it was men doing the writing, we’re lucky we got what we did. “So, what was it like.” “I don’t know, it was pretty cool.”
But in all seriousness, we believe that what was written was breathed by God and is sufficient for us to know all we need to know.
The whole story can be put together with as much detail as is necessary from the four gospels when we make a point of being careful with our assumptions. One false assumption that is easy for us modern people to make is that when the author only mentions one woman, then he means one and only one woman – like in the account of John. But that is not how they wrote. The mention of only one woman by name does not mean there were not other women with her, just that this particular part of the story is focused on the one woman and the author did not feel it necessary to also describe the other women in the group, the scenery, the weather, or what shoes they were wearing.
With all of that said, let’s see what happens…
We’ve already established it’s early in the morning at dawn and a group of women are heading out to the tomb of Jesus to put more burial spices on his body.
This is a beautiful picture of the love and devotion of these women. They had watched the whole crucifixion. They watched him taken down and placed in the tomb, and they are the first of his followers to come see his body while all the men are still hiding.
Now, as best as we can piece together the story, by this time Jesus had already risen from the dead, and shortly before the women arrived an angel came to roll away the stone.
Matthew records this part:
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
Basically, the guards fainted. You probably would too. An angel who looks like lightning is no little cherub. He streaks down from heaven like lightning, rolls the heavy stone away with ease – the wording in the Greek indicates he more like tossed it aside, farther than a person would have rolled it – then he sat on it as if to say, BAM! That would be a sight you would not soon forget.
Now, something else to point out about this before we continue. Many people assume that the angel rolled the stone away to let Jesus out. But that’s not true. From his later appearances, he could obviously appear and disappear at will. And there’s nowhere in the gospels where it describes Jesus coming out of the tomb. When the angel got there, he was already gone. The only reason the angel rolled the stone away was to let the women and disciples see that the tomb was empty! And it was probably fun to scare those guards.
So, Jesus is gone, an angel tosses the stone away and sits on it, and now come the women.
John records that Mary Magdalene took off as soon as she saw the stone missing…
Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved (John), and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
Apparently she didn’t notice the angel, or he was invisible to her – they can do that – or he simply wasn’t sitting there anymore. And John probably only talks about her because from his perspective, she showed up at the door telling him and Peter about it.
So she took off before even looking inside. Apparently the others were a bit more curious.
Luke records what happens next
2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.
Matthew and Mark record mostly the same thing.
After this the women run to tell the disciples. On their way, Jesus appears to them.
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Seems pretty fitting that these devoted women had the honor of being the first to see the risen Christ!
After this they continue their journey to tell the disciples.
While they are headed to the disciples, the guards wake up…
11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
You may ask how Matthew knew about this if all the soldiers agreed to lie? Well, it wasn’t all of them that went to the priests – it says only some. Clearly some also probably became believers after such an incident and told at least Matthew. That’s also how they knew the story about the angel rolling the stone away since only the soldiers witnessed it.
So, back to the women…
Luke records this about their arrival:
9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb.
John records it this way, and remember he only refers to Mary Magdalene in his story:
2 So she (Mary Magdalene) came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved (John), and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Luke doesn’t mention John going with Peter, but he states that Peter still wasn’t convinced..
Bending over, he (Peter) saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
So, Peter and John run to the tomb. They both see the evidence. John believes, and Peter is still confused. They both go back to where they were staying.
Now, apparently at least Mary Magdalene had followed them back to the tomb, because after Peter and John leave she gets a welcome surprise.
11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
Now that was quite a morning!
No doubt, all of this happened pretty quickly. Probably less than an hour. A lot of back and forth, both between the tomb and the house for them, and between the different Gospels for us.
So, let’s review the key events up until now:
- Early in the morning, just before dawn, Jesus rises from the dead and with his new body, he comes right out of the tomb or maybe turns invisible or something -but he’s gone!
- An angel comes down and moves the stone and scares the guards.
- Meanwhile a group of his women followers are headed to the tomb.
- Mary Magdalene sees the stone moved and does a 180 running to tell Peter and John.
- The rest of the women look in the tomb and see angels who talk to them.
- They rush back to the disciples and get interrupted by Jesus himself!
- Meanwhile some of the guards run off to tell the priests what happened.
- Maybe Mary Magdalene beats the others or they catch up to her, either way they tell the disciples and Peter and John bolt for the tomb.
- John believes almost instantly but Peter is not yet convinced.
- They both head back to where they were staying.
- Mary Magdalene stays at the tomb only to meet the risen Jesus, then she heads back to tell the disciples.
Can you imagine?
Just 39 hours ago they had watched him die a gruesome and bloody death. They watched the corpse taken down, wrapped up, placed in this cave, and a huge stone rolled in front of it. It was over. Three years of following this guy who they thought was the promised Messiah, the coming king, ended abruptly, violently…
No one was expecting him to come back. No one. They weren’t waiting it out in eager anticipation, they were hiding and hoping they wouldn’t be arrested too. But the women braved it to show him love one more time only to have the shock of their life!
Peter and John have to see it for themselves. Can you imagine the heart racing as they run toward the tomb? Can you imagine the mixed emotions of hope that it might be true and dread that it’s a hoax – would the Pharisees really stoop that low? They succeeded in killing him. Would they really take his body? That’s what Mary assumed – “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
They arrive at the tomb and the stone is tossed aside, and inside the body is gone. The wrapping is still there, still in the same place you would expect if the body was in it, but instead the body was gone. Why would they take the time to unwrap the body and then place the wrappings back like that?
Apparently, John realized what had happened and believed. But Peter, I think he’s more like us, was only more confused, angry, upset, and scared…
but that was all about to change!
We don’t have a record of when Jesus appeared to Peter the first time, but we do know that, like Mary Magdalene, he got a personal encounter. Paul mentions it in 1 Corinthians 15:5, and Luke mentions it the end of probably my favorite story from that first Easter…
13 Now (later) that same day two of them (followers of Jesus – not of the 12) were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon (Peter).” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
I think that is so cool. These two apparent followers who are never mentioned anywhere else in Scripture get a treat that I am personally envious of. It’s obviously later in the day and the word has been spreading. They are walking along the road and Jesus shows up but they don’t recognize him. They talk and talk and Jesus spells out for them from the OT everything about himself (that’s the part I would like to have heard).
As they said, their hearts were burning within them. They didn’t KNOW it was him, but they clearly SENSED it was him, but they couldn’t be sure until the last minute and he disappeared.
Can you imagine the excitement? The abated breath as they both RUN back to Jerusalem – that’s 7 miles! They bust in on the disciples who are in a frenzy because Peter had clearly just told them that he too had seen the Lord!
And as they’re all standing around buzzing…
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
John’s record says that the doors were locked. And suddenly Jesus himself is standing in the middle of them and says SHALOM ALEICHEM – (Hebrew for Peace be with you.) The disciples must have thought he said “BOO!” (that’s probably what I would have done if I was Jesus)
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.
Not surprising, they are freaked out. First, they are barely starting to grasp the news that Jesus is alive, and then suddenly he just appears in front of them. Even if he is alive, people just don’t do that. So they think he must be only a spirit, not a real body.
38 Jesus said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. (John adds “his side”) It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.
He invited them to look and to touch. He was solid. He was real. And he still had the scars from the nails and the spear, but the rest of him was restored – or renewed.
41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
Now they didn’t believe, not because they doubted his existence – they couldn’t deny that now – now they couldn’t believe because it was too good to be true!!
So he showed them he was indeed real by eating some food.
44 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.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.
In other words, YOU, my disciples, will be the ones preaching to all nations what you have seen and heard. And that is exactly what they did. Many of them suffered torturous deaths for doing so, but they never recanted. And that is why we know about it today, and why the name of Jesus is still preached in all nations more than 2,000 years later.
Because he IS alive!
The tomb is empty.
Death could not hold him.
The grave could not keep him.
When he died on that cross he said “It is finished.” and when he rose from the dead I imagine he said “It has begun.”
A new era had begun, when people would no longer need to go to a temple to meet with God or sacrifice animals to appease God.
No! Now God had come to us, and had offered himself as the final sacrifice, so that all who put their faith in him will not perish but have eternal life!
John ends his gospel…
25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
Likewise, I do not have enough time today to cover everything else Jesus did after his resurrection, so you will have to come back next week as we begin a new series about what happened next. I’m calling it, “To Be Continued.”
What’s the point of Easter? It’s not about bunnies or eggs or candy. It’s about a man who was more than a man, who died, but came back from the dead. And he didn’t just die. He died FOR US. He died to pay the penalty for all the things that you and I have done in rebellion against God. That’s called sin. And the holy God of the universe who created all this with a word, is completely perfect and cannot and will not even look upon sin, much less allow it into his presence. But when he created us, he gave us a choice. A choice to obey his perfect ways or do our own thing. Clearly we chose the latter. And because of that, we chose eternal separation from the God who made us. That is called the second death.
But instead of leaving us that way, God stepped in and sent his Son into the world to become one of us. Fully human, but fully God. He lived a sinless life – something we cannot do. Then, the one who never sinned and thus never should have died, allowed sinful humanity to kill him. Then in a moment on that cross, God the Son became OUR SIN, and God the Father punished OUR SIN by punishing HIS SON.
And the price was paid, and Christ died. But as we showed today, on the third day, he came back victorious. And Jesus tells us that because HE defeated death and lives forever, those of us who believe in him will also live with him forever.
John 14:19 – Jesus predicted before his death…
Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
Not because we deserve it or can earn it, but because HE earned it for us.
Romans 10:9 says that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved.
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess your faith and are saved.
So, if you believe today that Jesus did indeed come back from the dead. Then all you have to do is put your faith in him to forgive your sins and give you eternal life. But it’s not just a get out of jail free ticket. To confess Jesus as Lord means you will now live for Him instead of for yourself….
Jesus said that his death and resurrection were spoken of by Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. Take a look at these:
- Genesis 3:14-15 (the end of the curse on the snake) – Moses
- Isaiah 53:8-11 – The Prophets
- Psalm 16:8-11 – The Psalms
Read John 14:19
- What did Jesus promise here?
Read John 14:6
- What is the only way to get to the Father?
Read Romans 10:9
- Have you made that commitment?