Resurrection Sunday - The story told in consecutive time order from a combined syntheseis of all four Gospel accounts and other Biblical and non-Blibical sources.
A few weeks ago, I started a series of broadcasts on the Resurrection
and I promised you that I would share with you my personal endeavor to combine the 4 Gospel accounts on the Resurrection into one story with all the events described in a proper time-sequence.
So today is that day. Today I will tell you the story of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that occurred on Resurrection Sunday. Then on some later broadcast I will show all the events from Resurrection Sunday to Pentecost also in a proper time-sequence.
For me, when I combined all 4 Gospel accounts into one, it answered a lot of questions that I had about the Resurrection. And I hope it will help you too. I hope by hearing the combined Resurrection story in proper time-sequence, you will more fully appreciate the greatest event in human history - The Resurrection!
Now I want to warn my listening audience that while I primarily used the 4 Gospel accounts and other passages from the Bible, I also used material from Biblical scholars to help fill in the gaps. I wrote this as one would do for a play or movie on the Resurrection. But I hope you will find it inspiring and that it will increase your understanding and your faith in what happened on that majestic Resurrection Sunday!
First, let's review the background to the Resurrection. Jesus was crucified and he died around 3PM just before the Passover was to begin that evening. Joseph of Arimethea, along with other prominent Jewish leaders, went to Pontius Pilate and asked for permission to take down the body of Jesus and the bodies of two other men as well since it would be a great disgrace to the nation to have these dead bodies hang out there over the Passover Holidays.
Pontius Pilate was either just being cautious or he was a little surprised to hear that Jesus was already dead. (But you see the other two men had not been scourged - only Jesus.) The scourging of Jesus was Pilate's attempt to avoid crucifying an innocent man but the scourging had been so brutal that Jesus may have died in a few days from the scourging alone - many people do not know how terrible these beatings were. Many now do understand if they may have seen Mel Gibson's movie Passion of The Christ.
So Pontius Pilate orders his Centurion to make sure Jesus is dead and to hasten the death of the two other men so their bodies could be removed before sundown.
The Centurion, Joseph of Arimethea and the other prominent Jews return to Golgotha and the Centurion, or one of his guards, pierces the side of Jesus to make sure that he is dead and orders that the legs of the other two men be broken so they will died sooner. Actually this was a blessing to them. If it were not for Jesus, the men would have spent many more hours in agony as they slowly died.
Joseph of Arimethea, with his servants, brings along 120 lbs of spices and ointments. The ointments would be used to clean the blood stained body of Jesus. We can reasonably speculate that all this took a couple of hours and it was now around 5PM and the sun would set at 7PM that night. Fortunately the cave tomb that Joseph of Arimethea owned was close by in a garden cemetery for rich people.
Joseph and Nicodemus and some servants take the body of Jesus to the tomb to clean it and prepare it for burial as fast as they could. They are followed by a group of women who were wailing and other disciples as well. These disciples watch as Jesus is buried from a short distance away. So everyone knew where the tomb was. The Jewish and Roman authorities and the women and disciples of Jesus knew where the tomb was.
The stone is rolled over the tomb opening and everyone goes home. The disciples go into hiding. Different groups into different houses.
The disciples were devastated, they were depressed, they were sad, they were bewildered, they were simply emotionally drained. I am sure even the toughest of the men were horrified by the scourging and the brutality of the crucifixion. We can assume that most of Jesus' disciples had never witness a crucifixion. Judas committed suicide - for betraying Jesus - perhaps as some propose that Judas was hoping to force Jesus to reveal his power to the Roman and Jewish authorities and restore the Kingdom of David.
And remember that during the crucifixion, many enemies of Jesus taunted him: "Come down from the cross if you are the Messiah.", "You saved others, save yourself.", "If you come down from the cross, then we will believe you." So I am sure that the disciples, while they were watching these horrible events, were secretly hoping up until the last minute that Jesus would indeed show his power and save himself. So now that Jesus was dead, their hopes were gone and they were completely puzzled by these last events in their association with Jesus. Here their years of following Jesus, their personal sacrifices that they made to follow Jesus was all in vain. He was now dead.
If you ever thought like I did that the disciples were weak, that they should have had more faith and that they should have understood more than they did. Well that's easy for us to say. I wonder how I would have acted. I wonder how you would have acted on that horrible day. We all would have run away!
So the disciples would spend the next 3 nights in hiding until they could leave Jerusalem after the Sabbath days were finished. No one slept very well. And poor Peter. "What should we do Peter?" He had no good answers. "Stay in hiding, we leave on Sunday." Maybe he said that.
Now the women spend the time crying and wailing and refusing to be comforted. And they ask each other what can we do. So I can imagine that one of them comes up with the idea of going to the tomb on Sunday morning and washing His body with ointments and leaving some sweet spices. Apparently doing such a thing was not uncommon in that culture in those days. After all the men were rushed in burying Jesus. And they probably didn't do a good job. So they spent these days in preparing sweet spices and ointments for Jesus. I think that the women may also have wanted to hold the body of Jesus, to kiss it and to wail over it as was the custom in those days and it is still that custom in that region today.
Now on Saturday, on the weekly Sabbath, the day after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pontius Pilate and said, "Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, 'After 3 days I am to rise again'. Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people. 'He has risen from the dead', and the last deception will be worse than the first."
Pilate said to them, "I give you a guard, go, make it as secure as you know how."
The Jewish authorities take the Roman guard to the tomb, they probably roll back the stone, make sure that Jesus' body is still there and then they seal the tomb. Probably with ropes and then they put a wax seal on the ropes. This is equivalent to the yellow ribbons police use today to seal off a crime scene. Anyone trespassing a sealed off area is subject to arrest. So the tomb was inspected, secured and sealed off from the public.
There is also some evidence that Pilate issued a Proclamation that people were not to disturb graves. This proclamation could have been issued that Saturday or maybe after Jesus rose from the dead. Because Matthew mentions in Chapter 27:52 that the many tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. And after the Resurrection of Jesus, these risen people went into the holy city and appeared to many people. So it is possible that Pilate wrote this proclamation after all this commotion in the city of Jerusalem.
Now that was really amazing. The Jewish authorities went to Pilate on the Sabbath and then went to the tomb to make sure it was sealed and to instruct the Roman guards. It shows you how serious of a treat that Jesus and his followers were to the Jewish authorities - for them to do this on a Sabbath day!
So that is the background to our story. It was a highly charged and emotional backdrop to what was still to take place.
I want to tell you a story. It's a true story.
It's the greatest story ever told. It's the story of the Resurrection of the Christ.
On the first day of the week, when the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and Salome along with some other women, bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. So during the morning twilight while it was still dark for the full Passover moon had already set, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” The women had not asked the men to come with them to help move the stone because the men's lives were at greater risk than the women. They were probably hoping that they could find some gardeners who tended the garden cemetery to help them. The women would not reach the tomb until just after sunrise.
While the women were on their way, back at the tomb, the sun rose on that glorious Resurrection Sunday, and behold a severe earthquake had occurred for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and broke the ropes and seals that the Roman guards had put on the tomb, he rolled away the stone and sat on top of it! Matthew says there was a great earthquake indeed because neither the earth nor hell nor death could swallow up Jesus and just like Jonah in the whale, the earth and hell are cracked open and Jesus is risen from the dead.
And the angel's appearance was like lightning and his clothing as white as snow. The Roman guards shook for fear of him and fell down and became as dead men. The angel then reduced his glory and now appeared as simply a strong young man sitting on top of that huge stone. And I like that angel. I like to think of him sitting on that stone with his hands crossed and saying to the guards. OK you brave guards what are you going to do now. And you too Satan, you thought you won when Jesus died but you are now a defeated foe. Flee from here all of you. So the guards flee. Some of them go into the city and report to the chief priests all that had happened at the tomb.
When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they told the guards that they would thank Pilate for their service which is no longer needed and then they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “If anyone ask you what happened at the tomb, you are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report about you sleeping gets to the governor ear, we will satisfy Pilate and keep you out of trouble.” 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; but what a ridiculous lie. I guess the Roman guards must have also been drunk since they did not hear the noise of the large stone being rolled back from the entrance by the disciples. It's amazing that anyone then or now would believe such a fabrication. It just doesn't make sense.
Now after the guards had fled the tomb, the women approach and from a distance, they could see the tomb on the side of the hill. That side of the hill faced westward so it was still dark there but they could see that the huge stone had been rolled away. As the women came closer, they could see that broken ropes and other evidence that a guard was there and some commotion had taken place. As the women arrive at the tomb, they see the young man sitting on top of the stone who tells them: "Do not be afraid. for I know that you are looking for Jesus who had been crucified. He is not here for He has risen just as he said he would. Come see the place where He was lying."
At this, Mary Magdalene tells the women that she will run back to get Peter and John. The women who remain start to cautiously enter the tomb.
But when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. They saw the empty burial clothes and were bewildered. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”
Then the women remembered His words - the words that Jesus had spoken. Then the angel said. Go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will all see him.’"
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
In the meantime, Mary Magdalene came running to Simon Peter and to young John and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
So Peter and the other disciple start running for the tomb. They probably meet the group of women who confirm what Mary Magdalene told them. Now both Peter and John continue running to the tomb, but John outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally John, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (But they still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
Now Mary Magdalene also arrives back at the tomb after Peter and John. Also the group of women arrive back at the tomb because they wanted to see what Peter and John thought about the empty tomb.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
Then after spending some time in the tomb and listening again to what Mary Magdalene and the women had to say about seeing angels, Peter and John go back to the house followed by the group of women, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. She could not be comforted so the women left her there as she desired. As she cried, confusing thoughts entered her mind. Maybe Joseph of Arimethea had only temporarily buried Jesus in his large new family tomb and so that now he had the body of Jesus moved somewhere else. But then that young man sitting on top of the stone had told them that Jesus had risen. And what was all this commotion with the ropes and evidence that men were there overnight. Did the Roman or Jewish authorities take the body of Jesus away. She was beside herself. Confused and bewildered. She did not yet understand what had happened.
As she wept, she finally was brave enough , so she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two young men (angels) dressed in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
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.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, she practically bumped into him. But she did not realize that it was Jesus. Because she was crying so much, her vision was cloudy and her head was downcast and she was not thinking clearly.
“Woman,” he said, “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.” Mary may have thought to herself, I have some money, I will buy Jesus the biggest tomb I can buy.
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”
Mary Magdalene left and went to tell the disciples with her news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she would tell them what Jesus had said to her.
During this time, Peter and John were walking back to the house, discussing what they had seen at the empty tomb, followed by the group of women who were walking at a slower pace. The women were walking at the pace of the oldest woman in the group.
Peter and John were walking and talking about what they had seen. I am sure that John told Peter his theory about the burial clothes. "Peter did you notice the burial clothes? How undisturbed they were and how the large one-piece head cloth was folded by itself separate from the body clothes?" "Yes." "Peter, if someone had taken or move the body of Jesus, they would have taken Him with the burial clothes wrapped around Him. And if they took only his naked body, then the clothes would be lying there in disarray. But Peter didn't you see how the burial clothes were so neat. It was if the body inside simple vanished and the clothes deflated where the body was."
"Peter I think the women did see angels and I believe Jesus has risen probably as a spirit. I think we will see Jesus alive again in Galilee as the angels told the women. Certainly God would not let the body of his prophet Jesus corrupt in the earth. If anything like Enoch, he has been raised from the dead and ascended into heaven."
Now the women who were walking back to the house also must have had been talking amongst themselves trying to understand and fathom what they had seen and heard. The women were falling further and further behind Peter and John walking at a much slower pace. For they were walking back at the pace of the oldest woman.
And behold the risen Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him.
Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid, go and take word to My Brethren to leave for Galilee and there they will see Me."
Now Mary Magdalene in her excitement to tell everyone about seeing Jesus catches up to the group of women. She tells them she has seen Jesus. And they tell her, yes we know Jesus told us and we have also seen Him.
So Mary Magdalene and this group of women return to the house and now tell all the disciples that they have all seen Jesus alive again.
When Mary Magdalene and the women told the disciples that they had seen Jesus and that he was alive, they did not believe the women. The words of the women appeared to the disciples as nonsense. The women were very excited and jubilant but the disciples thought that the women were hysterical and over stressed from the brutal crucifixion of Jesus. The women were telling them that they had seen angles and now they claim they saw Jesus alive but then he disappears like a ghost.
Now Cleopas and his companion from Emmaus were also one of the disciples that heard what the women were claiming and they also heard from Peter and John who had gone to the tomb and indeed found the tomb empty but Peter and John had not seen Jesus. Cleopas and his companion also do not believe the women and decide to start on their planned journey to Emmaus.
Since last week, I covered the story of how Jesus appeared to these two men on their walk back to Emmaus, I will skip to the next appearances of Jesus on that Resurrection Sunday: his appearance to Peter and his appearance to all the apostles Sunday evening.
Peter however, being encourage by what young John said about the burial clothes decides to go back to the tomb. This is Peter second visit to the tomb. He went back to relook at the burial clothes, to consider what John had said and also he went back with a secret hope in his heart that if Jesus was alive that maybe he would appear to him as well. Jesus does indeed appear to Peter in person.
Peter goes back and tells all the disciples that Jesus appeared to him also. They begin to make plans to leave the next day for Galilee and go to the mountain that Jesus designated where he promised that they would all see him. The disciples are excited but they are also still frightened. One of the disciples had gone into the city on that Sunday and heard about the story being circulated by the Jewish authorities that the disciples of Jesus had stolen the body of Jesus. So the disciples, thought, we really are in danger now, they will be after us all. And what does this all mean if Jesus has indeed risen. What are we to do. What is Jesus going to ask us to do now? All the disciples were emotionally extended by the horrible crucifixion and all that had transpired and they had not been strengthened by the Holy Spirit.
With that as our background, we will now hear about how Jesus surprised the disciples and appears to them on Sunday evening and all the apostles except Thomas were there. We will be listening to Luke Chapter 24 from the Word of Promise Audio Bible New Kings James Version published by Thomas Nelson:
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
“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. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 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. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 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.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 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?”
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 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.”
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 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.
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 Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 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.”
That is the end of the events that occurred on that glorious Resurrection Sunday.