Jesus Rises From The Dead
Posted by foryourfaith on April 2, 2010
The resurrection of Christ may well be claimed as history’s most singular example of the inexplicable. Although there were not witnesses to the actual moment of resurrection, belief in it was strong enough to galvanize Christ’s followers into evangelism, sometimes to the point of martyrdom. What facts are known of the event?
Jesus was crucified at about 9 AM on a Friday and was dead by mid-afternoon, when a soldier thrust a spear into his body. He was laid in a rock tomb by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. The burial was watched by Mary Magdalene and other women, and a heavy stone was rolled across the tomb entrance before 6 PM, when the Sabbath began. Guards were sent to watch the tomb. By dawn on Sunday Jesus had risen from the dead. When the panic-stricken guards fled to report this to their masters, they were instructed to say that Jesus’ disciples had stolen the body while the soldiers slept.
Gospel accounts vary considerably about what happened next. Was the empty tomb found by Mary Magdalene alone (according to the gospels of John and Mark) or in the company of other women (according to Matthew and Luke) when she came to anoint the body on Sunday? A young man, possibly an angel, told Mary or the women, ‘He is not here; for he has risen, as he said.’ Matthew described a powerful earthquake, an angel rolling the stone away, and the tomb guards falling unconscious. Mary or the women reported the news to Peter, and an unnamed disciple, possibly John, ran to the tomb and found only the grave clothes in a heap, with the head band rolled up separately.
It is said that Jesus later appeared to Mary Magdalene and another Mary, then to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. These last two rushed to tell the other disciples and learned that Jesus had also appeared to Peter. Amid their joy and bewilderment Jesus materialized yet again, instructing them to remain together in Jerusalem until they received ‘power from on high.’ Later he appeared to a crowd of 500 followers, then to his brother James. Unrecorded appearances might also have taken place before Jesus ascended into heaven some days later.
Critics of the resurrection story have argued that Jesus was alive when buried, and claim that he left the tomb, appeared to his disciples and died years later, perhaps even in India. Others claim that the women mistook the location of Christ’s grave, or that the body was removed – by thieves, the Romans, the Jews or the disciples. Some simply argue that the accounts are too inconsistent to be relied upon at all. Whatever did happen at the tomb of Jesus, it changed the world forever.