The Miracle of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
TEXT: Mt. 28:1-15
- Jesus Christ Died And Was Buried In A Tomb:
- Jesus was crucified. Extrabiblical sources confirm this fact. Of particular interest is a reference by Thallus, a non-Christian Samaritan historian. He regarded the crucifixion of Jesus as so significant that he included it in his History of the World, which he wrote about A. D. 52. Thallus tried to explain away the darkness that fell when Jesus died on the cross as an eclipse of the sun (F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? Intervarsity Press, 1972, p. 113). Jewish sources also refer to Jesus’s crucifixion at Passover (The Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin, 43a).
- Jesus was dead. The nature of crucifixion ensures death. After analysing the medical and historical evidence leading to Jesus’s death, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Society concludes: “Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge” (March 21, 1986, p. 1463).
- Jesus’s tomb was empty just a few days later.
Professor of philosophy Dr. G. R. Habermas in his Ancient Evidences for the Life of Jesus writes: “Our study [of the extrabiblical sources] has shown that Jesus taught in Palestine and was crucified and buried in Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate. These sources assert that Christianity had its beginnings in the same location.” Christ’s apostles did not go to some obscure place to begin preaching about His resurrection but instead went back to the city of Jerusalem, the very place of Jesus’s execution and grave. If what the apostles were preaching had been false, it would have been evident to the people in Jerusalem and Christianity more than likely would not have begun.
This situation therefore demands that Jesus was no longer in His tomb. Paul Althaus writes that the resurrection proclamation “could not have been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned” (Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1979, p. 217).
- THE EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS: vs. 1-4
- The Visit of The Women:
Sabbath officially ended on Saturday evening, at which time the women could purchase and prepare the spices (Luke 24:1). The event described here occurred at dawn on Sunday, Mary Magdalene who had been delivered from 7 demons (Luke 8:2); the other “Mary” (“wife of Clopas,” John 19:25—a variant of Alphaeus) was the mother of the apostle known as “James the Less” (Mark 15:40), the mother of Zebedee’s sons. Salome (Mark 15:40), mother of James and John. From John 19:26, we learn that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was also present at the cross. Note that these women went, not to see the Resurrected Christ but to embalm a dead body.
- The Great Shaking:
- To Roll the Stone Away—
This is a second earthquake associated with Christ’s death (see 27:51). This one may have been confined to the immediate area around the grave, when “an angel” supernaturally “rolled back the stone from the door”—not to let Jesus out, for if He could rise from the dead, He would need no help escaping an earthly tomb, but to let the women and the apostles in (v. 6).
- To Knock the Soldiers Out:
This suggests that they were not merely paralyzed with fear, but completely unconscious, totally traumatized by what they had seen. The word translated “shook” has the same root as the word for “earthquake” in v. 2.
- THE UNUSUAL APPEARANCE: vs. 5-10
- The Many Events of the Resurrection:
Here’s a summary of the events of the resurrection, collated from all 4 evangelists’ accounts: Finding the stone rolled away, the women entered the tomb, but found it empty (v. 3). While they were still in the tomb, the angels suddenly appeared (v. 4; Mark 16:5). The angel who spoke reminded them of Jesus’ promises (vv. 6–8), then sent them to find Peter and the disciples to report that Jesus was risen (Matt. 28:7, 8; Mark 16:7, 8). The women did as they were told (vv. 9–11). The disciples were skeptical at first (Mk. 16:11), but ran to where the tomb was, John arriving first (John 20:4), but Peter actually entering the tomb first (John 20:6). They saw the linen wrappings intact but empty, proof that Jesus was risen (v. 12; John 20:6–8). They left immediately (v. 12; John 20:10). Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene returned to the tomb, and was standing outside weeping when Christ suddenly appeared to her (John 20:11–18). That was His first appearance (Mark 16:9).
- The Many Appearances of the Resurrected Jesus:
See vv. 10, 16; 26:32; John 21:1–14. Jesus appeared to the disciples several times before they saw Him in Galilee (Luke 24:15, 34, 36; John 20:19, 26). In Galilee “He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once” (1 Cor. 15:6).
There were several post-resurrection appearances of Christ. Cf. 1 Cor. 15:5–8. Scripture describes at least 10 distinct appearances of Christ between the resurrection and ascension. He appeared to:
- To Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18; Mark 16:9)
- To the other women (Matthew 28:8-10)
- To Peter (Luke 24:34; I Corinthians 15:5)
- To the two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35; Mark 16:12)
- To ten of the disciples (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-29)
- To all eleven disciples, eight days later (John 20:24-29)
There were probably many other times He appeared to one or more of His disciples. Luke says: “He shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days” (Acts 1:3). He was apparently seen by Stephen (Acts 7:56). Finally, of course, He was seen by Paul (Acts 9:38; I Corinthians 15:8) and once again by John (Revelation 1:12-18). The next time He appears will be in glory (Mt. 24:30).
- THE UNADULTERATED COVER-UP: vs. 11-15
- The Obstinacy of Unbelief:
The Jewish leadership demonstrate that they were committed to unbelief. The guards tell them the unvarnished truth of what they had seen and inspite of realizing that something unusual had happened they scheme to cover it up (Lk. 16:31).
- The Cost of Unbelief:
The Jewish leadership consulted together. They collectively agreed to bribe the soldiers to hide their first-hand story of the unusual events at the tomb. They also agreed to protect the soldiers from the course of justice.
- The Hollowness of Unbelief:
The soldiers story was hollow. No one can know what happens when they are asleep. The story about the theft of Jesus’ body is very weak.
The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the crowning proof of Christianity. Everything else that was said or done by Christ and the Apostles is secondary in importance to the resurrection. If the resurrection did not take place then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth.
Death is our greatest enemy and it has conquered all men but Christ. No man is wise enough to outwit death or wealthy enough to purchase freedom from death or strong enough to vanquish death. The grave always wins the victory and every person sooner or later returns to the dust.
In fact, the inexorable triumph of death applies not only to people, but to all things. Animals die and plants die, and even whole species atrophy and become extinct. Cities and nations, like people, are born and grow for a season, and then fade away. Homes and automobiles and clothes wear out and must eventually go back to the dust, just as do their owners. Even the universe itself is running down and heading toward an ultimate “heat death.”
This universal reign of decay and death is called in the Bible “the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21). In science it has come to be recognized as the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Also known as the Law of Increasing Entropy, this Law is now recognized as a universal law of science, with no known exception ever observed. It says, quite simply that every system tends to become disordered, to run down and eventually to die. Its entropy, which is a measure of disorder, always tends to increase.
The universality of the reign of decay and death is the measure of the absolute uniqueness of the resurrection of Christ. All other men, even the greatest men and the holiest men, have died. Buddha, Mohammed, Zoroaster, Confucius, Caesar, Gandhi, Ambedkar, Marx—men who made a profound impact on the world in one way or another—are all dead.
But Jesus Christ is alive! It is true that He died and was buried, in common with all other men, but unlike other men He returned from Hades, in a resurrected glorified body, made it henceforth immortal, and emerged from the tomb, alive forevermore! This was the greatest of all miracles since the creation itself, and could have been accomplished only if Jesus indeed is God, as He had claimed to be.