Several witnesses affirmed resurrection

Published 9:59 pm Saturday, April 7, 2012

The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is as well documented as any other historical event. Witnesses affirmed that he arose from the grave and many gave their lives rather than deny it.

Two devoted followers of Jesus, both women and both named Mary, arrived at his tomb on Sunday morning to complete the task of preparing his body for burial. His crucified body, wrapped in burial garments, had been laid in the tomb on Friday evening and lay there all day Saturday. Their preparation of the body had been interrupted because the setting sun signaled the beginning of the Sabbath when such tasks were forbidden. Early that morning they came to finish the task since the Sabbath ended at sunrise on Sunday..

What happened next remained forever imprinted in their memories and in the history of Jesus’ resurrection.

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The women felt the shock waves of an earthquake – in all likelihood the aftershock from the larger earthquake that occurred while Jesus was hanging on the cross.

They saw that the huge stone had been rolled away from the mouth of the tomb and they saw a messenger from God, an angel, seated upon the stone.

They heard him say they need not fear, that Jesus was risen, that they should hurry and inform his disciples he was alive and that he was going back to Galilee.

As they hurried to tell the others, Jesus met and greeted them. As soon as they recognized him they dropped to the ground, held on to his feet and worshiped him.

Jesus also told the women to go tell his disciples that they must go to Galilee where he would meet them.

When Jesus met the two women in the garden it was the first of eleven appearances to different individuals and groups over a period of 40 days before his ascension. He talked with them, ate with them and they touched him to make sure that he was real. The four gospels describe the appearances of Jesus in detail.

He appeared:

– to Mary Magdalene, John 20:10-18

– to other women, Matthew 28:8-10

– to Cleopas and a fellow disciple on the road to Emmaus in, Luke24:19-23

– to the eleven disciples and others, Luke 24:33-49 (Betrayer Judas had hanged himself)

– to ten disciples and others except Thomas who was absent, John 20:19-23

– to the eleven disciples including Thoma, John 20:26-30

– to seven apostles, John 21:1-14

– to the disciples, Matthew 28:16-20

– to the apostles at the Mt. of Olives before he ascended,  Luke 24:50-52 & Acts 1:4-9

For several years following the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, the people who saw him became witnesses for anyone who would listen to their testimonies.

His twelfth appearance was to Saul of Tarsus just outside Damascus. Saul was a sworn enemy to those who believed in Jesus, but after his encounter with the risen Savior he became a believer and changed his name to Paul. In his first letter to the Church in Corinth, Paul affirmed his faith in two places, “Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?” 1Corinthians 9:1. and “Last of all he appeared to me also.” 1Corinthians 15:8.

The basic doctrine of Christianity has always been the belief in the resurrection of the only begotten Son of God. The following statement was at the heart of the creed of the first Christians and is quoted by Paul in 1Corinthians15:3-4 He wrote, “I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me — that Christ died for our sins just as the Scripture said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the 12 apostles. After that he was seen by more than five hundred of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died by now. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles.”

Paul wrote the following comment and attached it to the end of the creed: “Last of all I saw him, too, long after the others, as though I had been born in the wrong time. For I am the least of all the apostles, and I am not worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted the church of God.” New Living Translation

But, for each of us in the year, 2007, there is personal evidence — a private encounter with the resurrected Christ. It is happening all over the world, to people in every culture, literate and illiterate, rich and poor, men women, young and old. Any one of them will be happy to testify that he or she has been changed within by the resurrected Christ. The final confirmation of the resurrection of Jesus, then, is a personal encounter with him. Each of us who believes in Jesus Christ is a living witnesses that he arose from the grave.