“Jesus Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed!”
Greetings in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
“Would you like me to release to you this ‘King of the Jews’?” Pilate, the Roman Governor, asked. For Pilate realized by now that the leading priests had arrested Jesus Christ out of envy. But at this point, the leading priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus.
Pilate asked them, “Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?”
They shouted back, “Crucify Him!”
“Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”
But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”
So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.
And the Roman soldiers brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). They offered Him wine drugged with myrrh, but He refused it.
Then the soldiers nailed Him to the cross. They divided His clothes and threw dice to decide who would get each piece. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified Him. A sign announced the charge against Him. It read, “The King of the Jews.”
The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
There was a discourse before between the religious leaders and Jesus before. Jesus cleared the Temple, which became a marketplace in the name of sacrifices to God by selling and buying sacrificial animals and exchanging money. But the religious leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.”
“All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
“What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” Since then, the animosity between the religious leaders and Jesus was deepening to the point that they decided to kill Jesus by crucifying Him on a cross. It was a sweet revenge moment that the religious leaders had waited for a long time. Finally, they could say what they really wanted to say. However, they did not know they were a part of the big story which God prepared for all of us.
The leading priests and teachers of religious law freely mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but He can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!”
The religious leaders had never admitted Jesus as the Son of God who came to this world to forgive the world by His own blood and mend the broken relationship with God. Instead, they thought that it was the moment they took revenge on Jesus, who was in the way between God and them. Jesus had destroyed their traditions that should have never been touched nor broken by anyone because they treated the traditions as God’s commands, although, in reality, most of them were not.
Indeed, Jesus, the Son of God, nullified many of their traditions, and instead, He gave out God’s love, mercy, and grace. Thus, the conflict was getting serious. Additionally, Jesus performed many miracles of healing the sick, but the most crucial event was Jesus’ raising Lazarus again, who died for three days. Then large crowds followed Jesus. The religious leaders said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” They concluded that they had to kill Jesus and Lazarus rather quickly. Then they were connected with Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, who sold Jesus in thirty silver coins, which led to Jesus’ arrest to crucify Him.
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Then, he said, “It is finished!” and breathed his last. He bowed his head and gave up His spirit. The earth shook, and rocks split apart. And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
When the Roman officer who stood facing Jesus saw how Jesus had died, he exclaimed,
“This man truly was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54)
The true confession of the truth came from the mouth of the Roman officer who led crucifixions of countlessly many people before. But that day, the Roman officer eyewitnessed Jesus, who was completely different from those who died on crosses. Nobody died like Jesus, who forgave those who nailed Him on the cross, and Jesus did not pay back evil to evil, but Jesus kept giving His love to those who nailed him and those who insulted Him. The Roman officer saw the power of forgiveness at the cross and experienced God’s love radiating through Jesus on the cross as He was dying.
Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome. They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Many other women who had come with Him to Jerusalem were also there.
As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who had become a follower of Jesus, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left. Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching.
The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while He was still alive: ‘After three days, I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing His body and then telling everyone He was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.”
Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it. The religious leaders finally felt they had settled the matter completely with their hands. There would be no more Jesus, and there would be no more Jesus’ followers.
They contented with what had been done. However, it was Sabbath. According to their traditions, they should not do anything but worship God and rest in God, but they were so busy serving themselves and protecting their interest. The main reason for crucifying Jesus on the cross was Jesus broke their traditions, but they themselves broke their own traditions.
Not just the religious leaders in 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem, who were zealous about Jesus, were susceptible to justify their own righteousness using their own traditions, but we are not much different if not careful.
However, God’s plan and His truth in love could not be delayed or hindered by any humans, including the completely determined religious leaders and the brave and obedient soldiers of the mighty Roman Empire, the most powerful nation at that time.
Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. They were fully prepared for the following day, Sunday.
Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way, they realized that they had prepared everything, but they forgot one thing. Then they asked each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”
Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. They ran away from the tomb.
Thus, Aas they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. What a relief! Removing the huge stone was the biggest concern to the women.
God had prepared the way ahead for the women. Indeed, God did more than the women worried. The women did not know that the tomb was also sealed by Pilate, the Roman Governor, and guarded by Roman soldiers per the religious leaders’ strong demand.
The religious leaders attempted to completely prevent any malicious rumors about Jesus’ resurrection after Jesus’ disciples stole Jesus’ body from the tomb. Thus, the soldiers guarded the tomb, while the women only concerned how to move the huge stone because they saw it when Jesus was buried. However, the real obstacle was the soldiers guarding the seal not to be broken. However, the women bypassed the real obstacle without even knowing the fact because God prepared before the women.
This is what God does to His beloved children. We think there is a huge obstacle before us. In reality, a much bigger obstacle is waiting for us. The bigger obstacle is impossible for us to move because it is absolutely beyond our ability. If God had not removed the soldiers, the women would have never gotten into the tomb sealed by the order of Pilate, the Roman governor. Can we imagine about 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem, a couple of women went to Pilate, the Roman governor, and requested permission to break the seal and move the stone to put burial spices on Jesus’ body? Absolutely not. Only was God able to.
However, when the women entered the tomb, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.
The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked,
“Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” (Luke 24:5b-7)
The angles continued, “Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”
The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message.
As soon as hearing the women, Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— for until then, they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. Then they went home.
But Mary was still standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.
“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
“Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).
“Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”
Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message. But nobody believed yet.
That Sunday evening, the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish religious leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” He said. As He spoke, He showed them the wounds in His hands and His side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again He said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But He replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”
Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.
Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (John 20:29)
Yes, we have not seen Jesus resurrected from the dead. However, we believe Jesus and His resurrection. Why? Jesus pours the Holy Spirit in us, and through the Holy Spirit, we can believe, not by our wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Thus, we are blessed because we believe Him and His resurrection without seeing Him.
Today is the day that we, all His children and those who will be His children in the future, together celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Yes, Jesus conquered the death that we all fear. The fear is no longer with us in Him. We have our Eternal Life because He died for us and was resurrected from the dead. Together praise God and shout in joy, “Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed!”
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthian 15:20)
and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” (Luke 24:34)