Resurrection Sunday: The Empty Tomb, Resurrection Appearances (April 5, AD 33)
Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20-21
He is risen! He is risen indeed! The tomb is empty! Jesus has come back to life! The resurrection is at the heart of the gospel. By dying for our sins on the cross, Jesus has overcome death and given us new, eternal life.
Nothing in the Gospel accounts of the resurrection suggests that Jesus’ followers—whether male or female—expected Jesus to rise from the dead. On Sunday morning, the women go to the tomb primarily to finish his burial since he his followers had buried him in haste on Friday afternoon. When Mary Magdalene sees Jesus, she thinks he is the gardener and asks him where He put Jesus’ body! Later, when Jesus appears to the disciples at the Sea of Galilee, they, too, don’t recognize him at first. The same is true for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
The resurrection is not a clever myth concocted by Jesus’ followers. Rather, reading the Gospels one gets the impression that for Jesus to rise from the dead was the last thing they expected. This despite Jesus’ repeated predictions that he would do just that! And yet, after the resurrection, Jesus’ followers couldn’t stop talking about the resurrected Jesus. In fact, they turned the world upside down with their gospel preaching. In one generation, the gospel had reached the ends of the Roman Empire, and two thousand years later there are millions who follow Jesus as Messiah and Lord.
And yet, the story is not yet complete. As Jesus said, “The gospel must first be preached to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt 24:14; Mark 13:10). Am I preaching the gospel in my sphere of influence? Am I living a life that is attractive, and if need be, convicting? Is my life’s purpose that unbelievers may know that Jesus loves them and came to save them? This is the perennial challenge this Easter, and the rest of the year.
May we be faithful to this solemn charge until he returns or comes to take us home to spend eternity in his presence.
Note: This is an excerpt from a blog that originally appeared on Songtime.com. You can view the original post here.