To hear the story of Jesus resurrection as told by Bible Student elder Joe Megacz, click here: He Is Risen
THE STORY of our Lord’s resurrection is one of exquisite pathos and beauty. His crucifixion had created despair-had smitten the Shepherd and scattered the sheep. In loving secrecy and weeping silence the faithful few had removed the body from the cross and laid it in the new tomb of Joseph. The great feast came, and while Jerusalem kept holy-day, the disciples had to bear, as best they might, their !bitter shame and ruined hopes. But the women could not forget the marred visage, now rigid in death, but once so expressive of holy and beautiful life, and with characteristic devotion, waited to seize the earliest moment to look upon it once more before the effacing fingers of decay had swept the lines of its lingering beauty, and in the little ministrations of tender regretful affection at once express and relieve the sorrow that !burdened their hearts. So, in the dim dawn of the morning after the sabbath, they stole to the tomb,. only to find in it no buried Lord. The thought of a resurrection did not occur to them; they thought only that the grave had been rifled. One of them, Mary of Magdala, fled, in an anguished woman’s way, blind to everything but her awful loss, crying: “They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.” But the angels within the tomb, and the Lord without, made the tear-blinded women awake to the strange glad truth: “He is risen, as He said.”
Begotten Again unto a Hope of Life by His Resurrection
Before this truth was brought home to them they were in despair. Their hopes were buried in His grave. They had trusted in Jesus, and had entertained high hopes, but now, since Jesus had died, they were sad, their hopes having withered. How different with them when the fact of His resurrection was made known to them! What joy displaced their dejection! It became true of them then, as it has of us who have believed since-they were, and we have been, begotten again unto a hope of life, by His resurrection. Because He lives we have grounds for hoping that we shall live also. In His resurrection lies our assurance.
It is an interesting study to trace in the Gospel narratives and in the Epistles, the harmony which obtains in the various references to the appearances of our Lord. Matthew, Mark and Luke, Peter, John and Paul all make mention of His resurrection. Each account is different, depending upon the point of view of the writer, but they are unanimous in affirming the fundamental fact that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. Moreover it is not difficult to combine all these various appearances now distributed amongst the Gospel writers and in the Epistles, and arrange them into one complete and connected picture.. By so doing we perceive that our Lord’s first work was that of consoling and encouraging. To Mary Magdalene and the other women He first appeared, turning their sorrow into joy. This was early in the morning on the very day He arose. That same day, in the afternoon, those two downcast disciples who were on their way to Emmaus found their hearts burning within them as a Stranger talked with them and finally revealed Himself as their Lord. Unable to contain themselves, although the hour was late, they hastened back to Jerusalem to tell the good news. But the Lord was traveling faster than they knew. Before they got there He had appeared to another; doubtless before He had appeared to themselves, even. There was one of His disciples whose heart was breaking-one who in an evil moment had denied His Lord. What passed ‘between our Lord and Peter we do not know; however, we who are in any measure acquainted with Jesus and know something of His grace can well understand the peace and comfort which possessed Peter after that meeting. At all events, Peter had not been slow to tell the good news, for when the Emmaus disciples came breathlessly with their story they were told: “The Lord is risen indeed, and bath appeared unto Simon.” Then, once again, in the late evening of that wonderful resurrection day, while they were rehearsing their own experiences to the Apostles, and how Jesus had been known of them by the old familiar habit of His, of first blessing and then breaking the bread, He once more appeared in their midst, saying, “Peace be unto you.”
That Glad Resurrection Day
On the very day of His resurrection, then, first to the women, then to Peter, next to the Emmaus disciples, lastly to the Eleven — four times in all — Jesus appeared, each time bringing a sense of peace and comfort, hope and joy. What a day to be remembered for all time!
A week later He appeared to the disciples again, this time for the special benefit of Thomas, who had been absent on the previous occasion, and who had doubted.
Some time later, just when we may not know precisely, Jesus appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, no doubt taking His last leave of the collective Church then. His next appearance seems to have been to James, His “brother,” or “kinsman,” as the word more exactly means. This appearance is mentioned by St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, although it is not mentioned elsewhere in the Scriptures. St. Paul, we know, had become personally acquainted with James at Jerusalem, and no doubt learned about this appearance of Jesus from James himself.
Still another appearance to His disciples is recounted ‘by the Apostle John, in the last chapter of his Gospel. Seven of the disciples had gone fishing. Perhaps they had grown weary with waiting for the Lord to manifest Himself again. We do not know. At all events they had toiled all night and caught nothing. And, it will be remembered, Jesus revealed Himself to them by telling them where to cast their net to secure a big catch of fish. Finally He took His last leave of them, just before His ascension, leading them out as far as Bethany, appointing them to be His witnesses –witnesses not only of all the wondrous things He had done and taught in their midst during His ministry; witnesses not only of the fact that He had been crucified and buried; but witnesses especially of His resurrection.
Have I Not Seen Jesus Christ Our Lord?
And yet once more, in order that he, too, might qualify as a witness, Paul was given a glimpse of the resurrected Lord in that never-to-be-forgotten journey on the Damascus road.
St. Paul never forgot this commission. In all his Epistles he speaks of the resurrection of Christ. And when, at the close of his life, the Apostle writes to his son in the faith, Timothy, he reiterates the matter in these words: “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead, according to my Gospel. But while he mentions the resurrection in all his Epistles, there is one Epistle in which he undertakes to expound the matter in great detail. It is his first letter to the Corinthians. There, in the fifteenth chapter, he unfolds the subject at length, affirming his faith, first, in the resurrection of Jesus; second, in that of the world of mankind as a whole; and third (third in point of mention, though second in order of accomplishment), in that of the Church. Most of the discussion we hope to present in the remainder of this series of meditations will be drawn from this heaven-sent exposition by “our beloved brother” Paul. However, for this meditation let us content ourselves with reviewing the ground already covered.
How Firm a Foundation is Laid for Our Faith!
The doctrine of the resurrection is so fundamental to our faith that all Christians should be thoroughly established therein — “able to give a reason” for their own hope, and their hopes on behalf of others. Junior students of the Scriptures, especially, and all newly consecrated ones, are urged to become very familiar with all the Bible has to say on this most important subject; while those who have been long in the way will, if they join us in these meditations, experience once again the comfort to be derived from a consideration of “these words.” (1 Thess. 4:18.) For example, in the previous paragraphs we have listed all the recorded appearances of our Lord. Let each ask himself the question: Do I know how many there were? To whom they were vouchsafed? In what order they occurred? Where they took place?’ What the total period of time was during which they all happened? — all, that is to say, except that to Paul. To get the most out of this first meditation the reader will do well to trace in his own Bible the ten appearances mentioned, and to prayerfully ponder the related contexts of each. Those who do so for the first time will be astonished to find how firm a foundation is laid for their faith; that to the Apostles our Lord showed Himself alive after His passion by “many infallible proofs, being seen of them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” – Acts 1:3.
Our Lord Showed Himself Alive
To assist the student to accomplish, with the minimum effort, the searching of the Scriptures suggested in the previous paragraph we submit the following brief summary:
Appearance No. 1.
To whom-Mary Magdalene and the other women.
Place-At the sepulcher, Jerusalem.
Time-Resurrection Day, early morning.
Scripture-Matt. 28:9; Mark 16:9; John 20:1-18.
Appearance No. 2.
Time-Resurrection Day, during daytime.
Scripture-Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5.
Appearance No. 3.
To whom-Cleopas and another
Place-On road to Emmaus.
Time-Resurrection Day, towards evening.
Scripture-Mark 16:12; Luke 24:13-35.
Appearance No. 4.
To whom-Ten Apostles and others (Thomas absent).
Time-Resurrection Day, evening.
Scripture-Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36; John 20:19; 1 Cor. 15:5.
Appearance No. 5.
To whom-Thomas and the rest.
Place-Jerusalem (most probably the same place and circumstances as in appearance No. 4).
Time-The first day of the next week.
Appearance No. 6.
To whom-The seven.
Place-By the Sea of Tiberias.
Time-Uncertain (This was the third appearance to the “disciples”-the previous two being appearances Nos. 4 and 5).
Appearance No. 7.
To whom-The Eleven in the midst of five hundred brethren.
Note: Matthew mentions only those who were receiving the apostolic commission.
Scripture-Matt. 28:16; Mark 16:7; 1 Cor. 15:6.
Appearance No. 8.
Place-Uncertain (Paul probably learned about this appearance from James himself).
Scripture-1 Cor. 15:7.
Appearance No. 9.
To whom-The Eleven
Time-Ascension Day (at the close of forty days).
Scripture-Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:6-9; 1 Cor. 15:7.
Appearance No. 10.
To whom-Saul (afterwards called Paul).
Place-On the Damascus road.
Time-Some time after the Ascension.
Scripture-Acts 9:5; 1 Cor. 15:8.
“This Jesus Hath God Raised Up”
It is strengthening, too, to faith and consecration, to trace in the Acts of the Apostles how our Lord’s chosen “witnesses,”-witnesses of His resurrection-(John 15:27; Luke 24:46-48; Acts 1:8, 22) — proceeded to carry out their commission. Our Lord had said: “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” But first they were to receive “power.” “Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem,” was His word, “until ye be endued with power from on High.” (Luke 24:49.) Accordingly we find them waiting at Jerusalem in prayer and supplication (Acts 1:14), until they had received the promise of the Father. Then commenced the work of witnessing, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:4.) One cannot but be impressed with the prominence given to the “resurrection of Jesus” in this, their first witness given under the guidance and in the power of the Holy Spirit:
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth . . . ~by wicked hands have crucified .and slain; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains [“grip,” Fenton] of death; because it was not possible that He should be holden of it.” – Acts 2:22-24.
“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” – Acts 2:32.
“They taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” – Acts 4:2.
“Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole.” – Acts 4:10.
“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew.” – Acts 5:30.
Thus it was that at Jerusalem “with great power gave the Apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all.” – Acts 4:33.
“I know that my Redeemer lives;
What joy the blest assurance gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my everlasting Head!
“He lives, to bless me with His love;
He lives, who bought me with His blood;
He lives, my hungry soul to feed;
He lives, my help in time of need.
“He lives, and grants me daily strength;
Through Him I soon shall conquer death;
Then all His glories I’ll declare,
That all the world His life may share.”
– P. L. Read