The Resurrection of Jesus

(Matthew 28:1-8, 11-15; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-11; John 20:1-10)

Early on the Sunday morning after Jesus died, some of the women who had followed Jesus started to go to His tomb about sunrise. They took the spices with them that they had prepared so that they could put them with His body. As they walked along they asked one another, "Who will roll away the giant rock for us from the doorway of the tomb." At the same time there was a great earthquake; for an angel came down from heaven and rolled away the giant rock and sat on it. The soldiers guarding the tomb shook from fear and lay on the ground like they were dead.

When the women came to the tomb, they saw that the giant rock was rolled away. They went inside the tomb, but the body of Jesus was not there. Instead there were two angels that looked like men in shining clothes. They told the women, "Don't be afraid. You are looking for living among the dead?" He is not here; He is risen. Come, see the place where he lay. Remember how He told you when He was in Galilee that He must be given to sinful men, be crucified, and on the third day rise? Go quickly and tell the disciples that He is risen from the dead." The women were both happy and afraid and they ran out of the tomb. They said nothing to anyone but ran straight to tell His disciples.

When Mary Magdalene got to the disciples, she told them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they put Him." The disciples did not believe that they had seen angels, but Peter and John ran for the tomb, with Mary following after them. John ran faster and got to the tomb first. He looked inside the tomb and saw the burial cloths lying there. When Peter got there, he went right inside the tomb and John followed him inside. They saw the burial head rolled up in a place by itself. When John saw this, he believed that Jesus had really come back to life. Then Peter and John went home, but Mary Magdalene stayed at the tomb.

The soldiers who had been guarding the tomb went to tell the Jewish leaders what had happened. So the Jewish leaders gave the soldiers some money and said, "Tell people, 'His disciples came at night and stole His body while we were asleep.'" Now if the governor heard that the soldiers had been asleep while they were on guard, he would have them killed, so the Jewish leaders said, "If the governor hears about this, we will talk with him and make sure that you have nothing to worry about." So the soldiers went out and told the story that the disciples stole Jesus' body.

The enemies of Jesus never found his body to prove their story. They couldn't; He wasn't dead any more. There are two ways that we know that Jesus really did come back to life. One is the empty tomb. The other is that, beginning with Mary Magdalene, several hundred people saw Him alive. If only one were true, we would not know that He really came back to life. But if both are true (and they are), then He must have come back to life. Think about it a while. Now if He came back to life, that gives power to His promise that He will bring us all back to life. And that's good news!

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