Jesus Christ had been nailed to a wooden cross. The man who had promised to do so much for the world was now dead. His followers were so sad, and so disappointed. All the wonderful things he had said and done now seemed to be worthless.
The body of Jesus is placed in a tomb
In those times, men who were crucified were usually criminals, and their bodies were thrown onto the rubbish heap. A wealthy man named Joseph did not want this to happen to a great man like Jesus of Nazareth. Joseph asked the Roman Governor for the body of Jesus, and placed the lifeless body of Jesus in a tomb. A large stone was rolled over the door of the tomb.
Jesus had said that he would be killed, and would come back to life (that is, be resurrected) after 3 days. The Jewish rulers knew this, and so they asked the Roman Governor to place guards at the tomb. This was to stop someone stealing Jesus’ body and then saying he was alive again.
Jesus had said he would come back to life. Jesus was dead. But God would make him alive again after three days.
After three days, a powerful angel appeared at the tomb. He rolled back the stone, and Jesus came out of the tomb alive; alive for all time, never to die again. He was now the glorified Son of God. He was like God in that he was IMMORTAL; never to die again.
The guards at the tomb were terrified. When they saw the mighty angel, they ran back to the city and told the Jewish rulers that Jesus was alive. Of course this was just what the Jewish rulers feared. They bribed the guards to tell everyone that Jesus’ disciples stole the body of Jesus. You can read what happened in Matthew 28:1-4, 11-15.
The tomb is empty
When the sun came up, some of the women who were followers of Jesus came to the tomb. They were going to prepare the body of Jesus for its final rest in the tomb. But when they reached the tomb they found:
The heavy stone at the door of the tomb was rolled away.
The guards were gone.
The tomb was EMPTY.
There were angels (God’s messengers) there.
The angels said to the women: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead…” Matthew 28:5
The women were so joyful. Their Lord and Master was not dead any more. He was alive again.
The women returned to the other disciples and told them what they had seen. But no-one really believed them. Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves. The tomb was empty, and the linen cloth that Jesus’ body had been wrapped in was there.
The resurrected Jesus appears to his disciples
One of the women, Mary Magdalene, went back to the tomb. She sat outside crying. She thought someone had stolen the body of Jesus, even though the angels had said Jesus was alive again. Then Jesus himself came and spoke to her. But Mary in her tears thought the man she spoke to was the gardener.
Then Jesus said, “Mary”. He spoke her name, and suddenly Mary knew that it was Jesus. He was really there! He was really alive again.
Later, Jesus appeared to his disciples when they were together. The doors of the house were locked because the disciples were afraid of the Jewish rulers. But Jesus came in and showed them that he was alive. Jesus was not a ghost. He ate some food that they had there. He assured them that he was not a ghost or a spirit. He was real. He had a body just like theirs, but his body would never die.
While he had a body that would never die, Jesus still had the marks of where the nails had been driven into his hands and feet.
Thomas the doubter
It needs faith to accept that Jesus died and rose again. Even the disciple Thomas did not believe at first. He was not convinced until he had seen Jesus for himself. When Thomas did finally see Jesus and believed, Jesus then said:
“Thomas, because you have seen me you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29
The promise of Jesus return
Now that Jesus was alive again and would never die, why didn’t God start His Kingdom then? The Kingdom is still to come. There was, and still is, a time for preaching. The followers of Jesus had to tell everyone about the message of the Gospel. That Jesus is our Lord, and that he is alive. And that we can live for all time like Jesus if we follow him.
Jesus stayed with his disciples and taught them many things, and then after 40 days he went into heaven. You can read how he went to heaven in Acts 1:9-11.
Verse 11 is very important. Jesus had gone away. But he would be coming back. We are still waiting for him to return.
It will be the same Jesus, and he will come back in the same way as he went. It was a wonderful message of hope that the angels gave to the disciples. Jesus will come again, with the same body he had then, not this time to die, but to reign as King over the whole earth.
If you have time, you can read the accounts of the resurrection of Jesus in:
The Apostle Paul writes later in the New Testament about the Resurrection of Jesus. He says that if Jesus was not raised from death, then our faith is useless. Our sins are not forgiven. Those who have died will never live again.
But the fact is, Jesus is alive. Yes, he was on the earth about 2000 years ago, but now he lives, and sits at the right hand of God in heaven. He watches over his followers, and hears their prayers. He asks the Father to forgive them for their sins, because Jesus knows how hard our lives are.
We suffer pain; we become ill; we will all die some day. But those who are given a place in God’s Kingdom will have their bodies renewed. They will be made immortal.
What is the offer God has made?
• We can have our sins forgiven through the Lord Jesus.
• We can rise from the dead as he rose.
• We can be given immortal bodies.
• We can have a place in God’s Kingdom on the earth.