“Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ And they remembered His words.” Luke 24:1-7
How quickly things can change for the better. Tears of sorrow became tears of joy – “So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.” (Matthew 28:8) How many emotions these women must have felt – fear and joy at the same time. “He is not here, but is risen!” Those words of the two angels must have seemed like a dream to the women who came to the tomb to attend to the body of Jesus. The stone was rolled away from the tomb. The soldiers were gone. The body of Jesus was also gone. The Lord was ready to teach His disciples the greatest lesson of all – The Lesson of Life! You see, Jesus has the Power – the Power of Life over death. Nothing can destroy Him – nothing can delay Him – nothing can dissuade Him. Jesus has the Power of Life because He is Life.
Resurrection Day had come! Within minutes of discovering the empty tomb, Jesus began the amazing process of teaching His disciples the Lesson of Life. Watch as the Lord displays His extraordinary Grace and Mercy in the method and terms He used to teach this Lesson.
“Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.” Mark 16:9
What a precious Savior we serve! He appeared first to a woman whose life He had turned inside out and upside down – casting out seven demons. Imagine what she had experienced in her life – possessed by seven awful demons. Jesus had changed her life and she was forever grateful to Him for her deliverance. Now, Jesus was going to teach her another lesson – He had power over demons AND death. Hallelujah!
Next, Jesus appeared “in another form” to two disciples as they walked in the country. Mark’s Gospel gives us a quick glimpse at that life-changing meeting. Luke the historian gives us more detail.
“Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. And He said to them, ‘What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?’ Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, ‘Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?’ And He said to them, What things? So they said to Him, ‘The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.’ Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying, Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.’ And He went in to stay with them. Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?’ Luke 24:13-32
Isn’t that an amazing act by our Lord? Here He is – risen from the dead – the most monumental evidence of God’s Love and Power since Creation – and Jesus takes time out to talk personally with Mary Magdalene, then appear to two disciples miles away and spend time with them to teach them from the Law and Prophets that He was to suffer and to enter into His glory. Their lesson that day was that everything in the Holy Scriptures pointed to Jesus!
Here’s another wonderful display of God’s Grace. It’s found in Mark 16 –
“But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.’ So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Mark 16:6-8
Do you see what Jesus did? He gave the angels specific instructions to mention Peter by name – “But go, tell His disciples—and Peter.” How wonderful is that? Jesus knew the great pain Peter had suffered – his denial of the Lord – the humiliation – the guilt Peter must have felt. Jesus wanted Peter to know that he was forgiven. Jesus loved him and had a wonderful purpose for his life. He pointed Peter to that purpose days later after breakfast on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’ He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep. Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.’ This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me.” John 21:15-19
Mary Magdalene told Peter and the disciples what Jesus had said to her. The two disciples Jesus walked with in the country told Peter and the others what Jesus had said to them. But the disciples were still having difficulty believing what they were saying – that is – until Jesus appeared to them as well.
“Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20:19-23
What a lesson Jesus taught them that moment! Everything He had ever said to them was true. Everything He told them was going to happen was happening in front of their eyes. Jesus promised to give them the Holy Spirit and He did. Can you imagine what the Lord’s disciples – his students – learned that day? They learned that they served the Living God! Jesus had Supreme Power over life and death and He was giving them His Authority to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God!
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20
Ah, the many lessons Jesus taught them that day and for more than a month before He ascended to Heaven. But the greatest lesson of all – Jesus loved them with an eternal love and would never leave them, never forsake them. They belonged to Him – forever!
The Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ are fundamental and central to our Faith as Christians. These are not just words to a believer – they are life and hope.
“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:5-11
As you worship God today – this Resurrection Day – remember these words from the Apostle Paul – “reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That is our joy – our hope – on this Easter Sunday.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”