By: Ysrael De la Cruz
It’s been a miserable month for so many of us because of this pandemic. Our routines have been altered, fear and insecurity has filled the hearts of many and we continue to pray to God to bring us relief, to heal those infected by this virus and to eliminate the virus from our midst and the whole world. Today is known in our calendar as Easter Sunday, the day when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This is big day in our nation, churches are usually packed during Easter and Christmas. Today we can’t gather as we would normally do because of the coronavirus. However, this is the closest we will ever be to the first Easter, to that Sunday when Jesus rose from the grave. The very day Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples were hiding behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. It was a devastating weekend for the disciples of Jesus. Their hopes and dreams were shattered by a cross on Friday afternoon. Jesus was the one they thought would restore the kingdom to Israel, their expected messiah; whom they did not expect to die. They thought everything ended with the death of Jesus. They did not know what to think or make of the events on Friday. Jesus rising from the dead was not in their minds. The disciples were afraid and hid behind closed doors. They thought their lives were in danger; their leader was dead, and they thought they would be next.
The four gospels tell us the story of the resurrection, and they all have women as the first witnesses of the Empty tomb. These women had gone to the tomb also expecting to find a dead body. They went to anoint the body with spices they had prepared. However, they didn’t find the body there. Jesus’ body was gone! What happened?
The women came to the tomb expecting to find a body.
(v.4) the women were confused by the empty tomb.
-The women were thinking who was going to remove the large stone at the entrance of the tomb. When they got there, the stone had already been rolled away, which would make their job easier, now let’s go in to find the body, but the body wasn’t there. (v.4) they wondered why the body wasn’t there.
John tells us that the women thought the body was stolen (John 20:2)
Angels’ announcement (v.5)
Two angels appeared and told them the reason the tomb was empty.
“Why do you seek the living One among the dead?”
He is not here, he has risen. (v.6)
You don’t go to a tomb searching for a living body. This is the message of the angels to the women. Jesus’ body is not in the tomb because he has risen.
The resurrection verifies Jesus’ identity. (7-8)
Jesus openly spoke of the resurrection to his disciples. He told them he would rise from the dead. Remember what he told you when he was in Galilee? (v7)// Matt.16:21 “The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again”
Even though Jesus spoke openly about the resurrection to his disciples, they didn’t understand it. They did not expect Jesus to die nor rise from the grave.
The women remembered what Jesus had talked about.(v.8)
Then they went back to share this great news with the apostles. The news that Jesus was alive. The apostles didn’t believe the women’s testimony, (v.11) their words seemed like nonsense, it didn’t make sense.
Peter went to the tomb and saw the strips of linen lying by themselves. He didn’t know what to make of that. He didn’t expect the resurrection!
The apostles could not have made up the resurrection since they didn’t expect or believed when the women told them. The apostles could have not invented the resurrection since they were hiding from the authority for fear of death.
What changed these apostles? What transformed these coward apostles?
The risen Jesus. They saw Jesus alive.
Jesus began to appear to his followers, he let his followers see him.
Two disciples were traveling on the road. Luke 24:13-33
Jesus appeared to the eleven apostles (Luke 24:36-48)
Jesus appeared to them to give them proof that he was indeed alive. He would eat with them and invited them to check out the evidence. Thomas wanted to see the scars from the nails and Jesus welcomed Thomas to examine them.
Luke tells us in the book of Acts that Jesus appeared to them over a period of 40 days giving them many convincing proofs that he was alive. (Acts 1:3)
The resurrection of Jesus turned coward disciples into brave witnesses.
We can’t stop telling you what we have seen and heard. (Acts 2:22-24; 31-32; Acts 4:10-12) The religious people could not disprove the testimonies of the witnesses that saw Jesus alive.
Christianity exists today because Jesus is alive.
He overcame death itself.
The resurrection the foundation for the Christian faith; without it there is no Christianity. (I Cor.15:13-20) The church was founded on this; if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead our preaching is useless, our faith is worthless and we have no hope and still guilty of our sin and under the curse of God.
Our Lord conquered death and promises that those who are his will also conquer death. We too will rise when he calls our names. “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me will live even if he dies. (John 11:25). This is the hope we have because of Christ. Our Lord, Messiah is alive. Our belief is not based on a dead Messiah, but one who conquered death. He gives us victory over anything in this life. Even over death itself. This is why we are not to live in fear in this life; this is why we should not be afraid to tell others that it is only in Jesus that they can find life and joy and peace and salvation.