Updated: Oct 22, 2020
"When the Sabbath was past. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him... And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe... "He has risen, he is not here..."" Mark 16: 1-6
Women were the first ones to find the empty tomb.
This statement may mean more to some than others. But, don’t miss the historic significance. During this time in society, women didn’t have much, if any rights. Their witness and testimony weren’t considered legitimate. So, the fact that the disciples document that Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and other women were the first ones to find the empty tomb is substantial. This was a time when many men would have found it to be an “illegitimate” event and this demonstrates the superiority of God's will and choosing.
"Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Aramaic, "Rabboni!"Jesus said to her, "Don't cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father, but go to my brothers and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." John 20: 16 & 17
Mary Magdalene was the first recorded person to see Jesus risen from the dead.
This is significant for all the same reasons as the first point. However, with Mary, we find a pretty distraught person. We can probably find ourselves in her thoughts. She was initially saddened when she found the empty tomb because she thought someone had stolen the body. As a faithful disciple, this may have felt like a hindrance to mourning and even a defilement to the teacher she loved.
When Jesus says her name, she immediately recognizes Him and seems to run to hug him as His response is, “do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father;”. Most of us can relate to wanting to embrace someone we've lost and that’s her first reaction!
""Therefore, order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away..."" Matthew 27:64
Jesus' tomb was sealed and guarded by Roman Guards.
The Pharisees who had given Jesus over to Rome to be executed feared that Jesus' disciples would steal his body and tell people that he had risen from the dead. They remembered how Jesus preached that would raise from the dead on the third day when he was alive. So, they asked Pilate, the same Roman official who ultimately sentenced Jesus to death, to have Roman guards secure the tomb until the third day.
It's important to note that Rome was extremely strict in regards to service. They were known to execute their own guards if they ever left their post or if prisoners escaped on their watch.
The bible describes that the guards witnessed an angel appearing to remove the stone from the entrance of Jesus' tomb. They were so scared that they fainted. When they came to and found Jesus' tomb empty they told the Pharisees who paid them off to spread the false rumor that Jesus' disciples stole his body.
"He presented himself alive to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God." Acts 1:3
Jesus appeared to His other disciples over the course of 40 days.
That’s a month and ten days of Jesus talking and walking with them. A month and ten days.
I think when a lot of people picture the resurrection of Jesus, they're actually picturing the ascension. This is when Jesus took his disciples on the mountain and returned to heaven floating on a cloud up and away in the sky. But, the resurrection occurred the moment Jesus breathed life in his body after being dead. He didn't just raise from the dead and disappear the same day. He spent quite a significant amount of time on earth speaking about the kingdom of God. He was very much alive.
I've heard a lot of theories out there from a mass hallucination due to being under the influence of some old school drug to the Mandela effect. The issue with all of these theories is they don't take into account that Jesus was appearing to his disciples over the course of 40 days! My next point also debunks these theories.
"Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Lastly, of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me." 1 Corinthians 15: 6-8
More than 500 hundred people witnessed first hand the risen Jesus over the course of 40 days.
Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 15: 6-8 how Jesus appeared to more than five hundred of his disciples post-resurrection. He even lets his readers know at the time that most of those people were still alive! And finally, he gives a personal account. Paul was once a fierce persecutor of the church. He infamously held the coats of other men as they stoned a Christian to death. He was also known for, "ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged men and women and committed them to prison." So, it's safe to say, Paul, formerly known as Saul, was an enemy to Christians and therefore, Christ. But, everything changed when this same man encountered the risen Jesus. He would go on to be one of the most influential Christians to share the message of Jesus with non-Jewish people.
"But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit." Luke 24:37
The Disciples freaked out the first time they saw Jesus' resurrected body and thought he was a ghost.
The disciples had a very real reaction to seeing Jesus for the first time. The Bible describes them as being startled and frightened. I’m sure if any of us saw a friend we confirmed was dead, even by morticians' and scientists' standards today… we’d be freaked out.
Jesus apparently wasn’t surprised by them being terrified or thinking he was a ghost. He ate some food and showed them he really was flesh and bones, not a "spirit".
"And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes," Acts 1: 9 & 10
When Jesus ascended into heaven His disciples had the most real and most relatable reaction ever.
They kind of just stood there, staring up. Even after he disappeared from sight. Angels showed up the scene and were like… uh, why are guys staring looking confused? He’ll be back the same you just saw him leave.
"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." Acts 2: 4
Jesus keeps His promise to them.
Jesus promised that he would send them God’s Spirit and He did! Giving them the power to do all the things God wants them to do and also serving as a seal that they were now adopted into the family of God. Jesus told his disciples that it would be better if he left. First, he was leaving to prepare a place for them in heaven. Secondly, Jesus was only one man, albeit God in the flesh. But, the Holy Spirit would be able to indwell and live in each person who put their faith in Jesus. The Spirit of God would be with them wherever they went. They'd never be alone.
"But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.""Acts 2: 14
The disciples completely changed after Jesus rose.
The same disciples who abandoned Jesus for fear that they’d get the same punishment from the Jewish leaders and Rome became these bold men and women after the resurrection! They preached about Jesus' life, death and resurrection and the need for all to come believe in Him and to repent! These formerly wishy-washy disciples would be known as some of the boldest people ever to live. Sharing the truth of Jesus with anyone who would hear. When they were filled with the Holy Spirit the bible describes that God's Spirit used them to speak different languages for people from different nations to understand the Gospel, Good News of Jesus.
When some people started accusing them of being drunk, Peter, the same person who denied Jesus three times is the first one to stand and correct the crowd of Jews. He preaches that Jesus was sent by God, died an innocent man and was raised back to life!
They had no reason to lie.
Being an early Christian would have meant largely being rejected by your Jewish family and community, persecution by Romans and many other hardships. Most of the disciples of Jesus were martyrs, killed for their faith. They continued to share their faith even though it meant months, even years in prison. They knew what they had experienced was real and were willing to risk their lives for the truth of eternal life and freedom only being found in Jesus.
I pray God gives you ear to hear and eyes to see even as you read this. Everyone must make a decision about Jesus. You must decide whether He is who He says He is or if He was a liar and a fraud. If Jesus was One with God, then the resurrection is the most important event in history. If it never happened, then we all return to dust and that remains the end. However, if everything above is true, which I believe it is, then there remains nothing of higher significance. If you're interested in exploring more about the life of Jesus, I encourage you to read the Gospel according to Luke.
Peace and Blessings,
Jamie Edwards is a writer, YouTuber, and speaker. She currently lives in South Florida with her husband Javier and son, Nathan.