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And when he had said this, he breathed on them, And saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. — John 20:22On Resurrection Day itself, Jesus appeared to the disciples at various times and places. It was simply a physical impossibility for Him to be at so many different places in one day. These appearances therefore revealed that Jesus’ glorified body didn’t have the same limitations His earthly body possessed before His resurrection and glorification. The Bible makes it plain that in His glorified condition, He was able to appear, to disappear, to travel great distances, and to even supernaturally pass through a wall or the locked door of a house (John 20:26). On the same day Jesus was raised from the dead, He not only appeared to Mary Magdalene outside the garden tomb (John 20:14-17), but to two disciples as they walked from Jerusalem to the city of Emmaus (Luke 24:13-31). When the three men sat down to eat together, Jesus blessed the food. After hearing the way He blessed the food, the two disciples instantly recognized it was the Lord — just as He suddenly “…vanished out of their sight” (v. 31). That same evening, Jesus supernaturally traveled through the walls of a house where the disciples were gathered, miraculously appearing right in front of them. John 20:19 tells us about this amazing event: “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews….” This verse says that when the disciples gathered for dinner, they made certain “…the doors were shut….” The word “door” is thura, which lets us know this was a door that was large and solid. But as if this were not enough, the verse tells us that these doors “were shut.” The word “shut” is the Greek word kleio, meaning locked. Doors of this kind were usually locked with a heavy bolt that slid through rings attached to the door and the frame — like the deadbolts we use in doors today, only heavier. This door would be difficult, if not impossible, to break down. The fact that it was locked “for fear of the Jews” tells us that the disciples had moved into a mode of self-preservation and protection. With rumors of Jesus’ resurrection already filling the city of Jerusalem, there was no certainty that the leaders who crucified Jesus wouldn’t try to arrest the rest of the apostles and do the same to them as they had to Jesus. We know that the Roman guards who fled the resurrection site “…shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done” (Matthew 28:11). To prevent the people of Israel from knowing the truth of Jesus’ resurrection, the chief priests and elders bribed the soldiers to keep their mouths shut about what they had seen. Verse 12 tells us, “And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers.” The chief priests and elders fabricated a story and told the soldiers what they were to say when people asked them what happened: “…Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept” (v. 13). The soldiers’ admission that they had slept on the job would deem them worthy of punishment in Pilate’s sight, so the religious leaders further assured them, “And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you” (v. 14). The soldiers listened to the religious leaders’ plan and were satisfied with the amount of money being offered to them to keep silent. Verse 15 then says, “So they took the money, and did as they were taught.…” Once the chief priests and elders had bought the testimony of the Roman guards, they were positioned to make some serious arrests. First, we know that they were already asserting that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus. But to steal the body, they had to either overpower the Roman guards or creep past them as they slept. Either way, this would be deemed a terrible dishonor to the guards’ reputation. And if the disciples were caught, they’d potentially be put to death for this action. To open the tomb, the governor’s seal had to be broken. Breaking that seal was an offense that required the death sentence, for this was a breach of the empire’s power. No doubt the same angry mobs who cheered while Jesus carried His crossbeam to Golgotha were still in the city. The city was already in turmoil due to such strange happenings — the sky turning dark in the middle of the day with no natural explanation; the veil of the temple rent in half; the various earthquakes shaking the entire surrounding territory. It wouldn’t take too much to put the whole city on edge and turn them against the disciples. This is why the disciples were locked behind closed doors that evening. But although the doors were sealed tightly shut, Jesus supernaturally passed right through solid matter and appeared in the midst of the disciples. John 20:19 says Jesus came “…and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” No doubt this sudden appearance must have terrified the disciples. Luke 24:37 tells us that “…they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.” This is why Jesus told them, “…Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (vv. 38,39). Notice Jesus said, “…Handle me….” This is the Greek word psilaphao, and it literally means to touch, to squeeze, or to feel. He gave the disciples permission to examine His resurrected body to see that it was a real body and not a spirit. All of a sudden Jesus asked them, “…Have ye here any meat?” The following verses say, “And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them” (Luke 24:42,43). After eating the fish and honeycomb, Jesus began to speak to them from the Scriptures, pointing out key Old Testament prophecies having to do with Himself. Luke 24:45 says, “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.” Jesus explained to the disciples that repentance would have to be preached in His name among all the nations, but that it was to begin in Jerusalem. This is when He told them, “…As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (John 20:21). The disciple Thomas had not been present in the room that night when Jesus passed through solid matter and entered into the room. Later that evening Thomas joined them and heard the news, but by that time Jesus was already gone. He scoffed at the other disciples and said, “…Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Eight days later, the disciples were behind locked doors again, but this time Thomas was with them. John 20:26,27 says, “…Then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” Of course, after this event, Thomas believed! Jesus appeared to His disciples again, this time at the Sea of Tiberias. Peter, Thomas Didymus, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples followed Peter to the seacoast to go fishing. But after fishing all night, the disciples had caught nothing. Then in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore and called to them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. Although they weren’t sure who was instructing them, the disciples obeyed anyway — and caught so many fish that they weren’t even able to pull their nets into the boat! That’s when they recognized that the Man who had instructed them was the Lord (John 21:2-7). Before the evening was finished, Jesus had sat around a campfire with them, eaten fish with them, and spent time fellowshipping with them. John 21:14 says, “This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.” Then finally, the disciples gathered together on the same mountain in Galilee where Jesus had first ordained them. He appeared to them there, and gave them the Great Commission. He told them, “…All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20). In addition to these appearances recorded in the Gospels, First Corinthians 15:5-7 says, “And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.” Acts 1:3 says “…He shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” How about you? Do you experience Jesus Christ in the daily activities of your life, or is Jesus just relegated to church services and Sunday school? From what you just read today, you now know that Jesus was “in the midst” of His disciples after His resurrection. They ate with Him, talked to Him, and fellowshipped with Him. Jesus even helped them catch fish! The resurrected Jesus drew near to His disciples — but is He near to you as you go about the activities of your daily life? Even though Jesus is seated right now at the right hand of the Father on High, you can know Him intimately through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Great Revealer of Jesus Christ. Just ask the Holy Spirit to show you Jesus, and He will be faithful to make Jesus real to you!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I want You to be so real in my life. I know that You are willing to make Yourself known and felt in any part of my life that I will surrender to You. So I choose right now to surrender more of me so I can experience more of You in every sphere of my existence. Jesus, please have Your way in my life. Do whatever You deem necessary to make me the kind of person I need to be to know and experience You better.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that the Presence of Jesus Christ is felt in almost every area of my life. I am surrendering more and more of me to Him every day, and as a result, I am expecting a stronger Presence of God in my life. As I give more of me to Him, He gives more of Himself to me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Do you experience the reality of Jesus in the everyday activities of your life? 2. Can you think of a particular instance when you sensed the Presence of God in your life much more strongly than usual? 3. Do you recall what that experience did for you? Did it help you draw closer to the Lord or produce permanent changes in your life? If so, what were those changes?
But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou?… — John 20:11-13When Peter and John left the garden, Mary Magdalene remained behind. She had followed the two men, possibly hoping to obtain a clearer understanding of what she had experienced that day. All she knew was that her day started with a desire to come to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. But when she arrived, the stone was rolled away, and an angel was sitting on top of the great stone (Matthew 28:2)! Then when she entered the tomb, she first discovered another angel (Mark 16:5) and then suddenly found herself in the presence of two angels inside the tomb (Luke 24:4)! The angels had told Mary, “He is not here, but is risen…” (Luke 24:6). But if Jesus was risen as the angels had said, where was He? How could she find Him? Feeling dejected and alone, Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. The Greek tense means continually weeping, highlighting the fact she was extremely troubled about the inexplicable events that were happening. Most of all, she wanted to know what had happened to Jesus. John writes, “…she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre.…” The word “stooped down” is parakupto, the same word used in John 20:5 to portray John taking a peek into the tomb. Now it was Mary’s turn to bend low and peer into the empty sepulcher — but when she looked inside, she saw something she didn’t expect! John tells us, “…She stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain” (John 20:11,12). The word “seeth” is the Greek word theaomai, which tells us assuredly that Mary fixed her eyes on the angels and determined to look them over and to take in the whole experience. First, she saw that the two angels were “in white.” This agrees with all the other experiences of angels that eventful day. All of them had been dressed in shining white with a lightning-bright appearance. All the angels seen that day also wore the same type of robe — like the long, flowing regal robes worn by warriors, kings, priests, or any other person of great power and authority. The usage of the word theaomai (“seeth”) tells us that this time Mary visibly studied every single detail of the angels she saw in the tomb. John goes on to inform us that Mary saw these angels “…sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.” This statement is in perfect agreement with the interior of a rock-hewn tomb during biblical times. Past the entrance of such a tomb, a smaller separate room with a table-shaped pedestal, also carved from stone, was usually located to one side. On this rock slab the body was laid to rest after being dressed in burial clothes and perfumed by loved ones. The head would be slightly elevated, causing the trunk of the corpse to lie in a sloping downward position with the feet resting against a small ledge or in a groove, either of which were designed to keep the body from slipping from the slab. When Mary saw the angels, she noted that one was seated at the top of the burial slab and the other was seated at the foot. In between these angels, she could see the empty place where she had personally viewed Jesus several days earlier. Luke 23:55 tells us that after Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb, Mary Magdalene and other women who came from Galilee “…beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.” The word “beheld” (theaomai) means to gaze upon, to fully see, to look at intently. These women inspected the tomb, gazing upon the dead body of Jesus to see that it had been honorably laid in place. Because Mark 15:47 uses the imperfect tense to tell us how the women looked upon Jesus’ dead body, it means these women took plenty of time to make certain He was properly laid there. Now Mary saw the same spot where she had so carefully labored days before, but the dead body she cherished was no longer there. As Mary looked and wept, the angels asked her, “…Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus” (John 20:13,14). Stricken with sorrow, Mary withdrew from the tomb just in time to see a man standing nearby. Due to Jesus’ changed appearance, she was unable to recognize Him. Verse 15 tells us what happened next: “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.” At that very moment, Jesus tenderly said, “Mary.” Upon hearing that voice and recognizing the old familiar way in which He called her name, “…she turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master” (v. 16). Although Jesus’ appearance was different now, Mary knew Him by His voice. This reminds me of John 10:27, when Jesus told His disciples, “My sheep hear my voice.…” Mary knew His voice and recognized that it was her Shepherd who stood before her. In Revelation 1, John tells us about his vision on the island of Patmos. In the midst of this phenomenal divine visitation, he says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet…. and I turned to see the voice that spake with me…” (Revelation 1:10,12). Like Mary, when John heard that voice, he recognized it as the voice of Jesus. This is why John writes, “…I turned to see the voice that spake with me.” Of course, it is impossible to “see” a voice, but John recognized the sound of that voice and turned to match the face with the voice he heard. He knew it was Jesus. But as Mary had also discovered, Jesus’ physical appearance looked radically different from the Jesus whom John had known in His earthly form. But the voice of Jesus never changed, and John immediately recognized it. It appears that Mary reached out to cling to Jesus with her hands, but Jesus forbade her, saying, “…Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17). With this one statement, Jesus let it be known that everything had changed because of the Cross. Now a new relationship with God was available to the apostles and to all who would call upon the name of Jesus Christ! John 20:18 goes on to say, “Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.” Today we rejoice that Jesus is alive! Because of what He did for us at the Cross, now we have access to God the Father. This was the purpose of the Cross: To redeem mankind and to put man back in right relationship and fellowship with his Heavenly Father. Jesus paid it all! He finished the work of redemption so that today we can be in right relationship with God by accepting the work of Christ on Calvary by faith. I encourage you to be bold in recognizing the voice of Jesus. If you belong to Him, then you do know His voice. Mary knew His voice; John knew His voice; and your born-again spirit knows His voice. If you’ll take the time to listen, you will hear the voice of Jesus calling out to you just as He tenderly called out to Mary that day in the garden. He knows you by name, and He wants to enjoy close fellowship with you. So take the time to listen!
My Prayer for TodayLord, thank You for being my Good Shepherd! I am so thankful You speak to me and lead me through life. I’m sorry I haven’t listened to You so many times when You have tried to warn me, help me, and guide me. I have lost so much because I didn’t listen when You spoke. But rather than focus on my past losses, I determine to do everything within my ability to hear You now and to obediently follow what You tell me to do!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI boldly confess that I know the voice of Jesus! He is my Shepherd, and I am His sheep. He promises that I will know His voice and that the voice of a stranger I will not follow. Therefore, I declare by faith that I recognize the voice of Jesus when He speaks to me. I am not hesitant to follow, but I am bold and quick to obey what He speaks to my heart.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. How long has it been since you heard the voice of Jesus tenderly speak to your heart? 2. It takes time to develop any relationship, so are you giving time to your relationship with Jesus so you can get to know Him better and allow Him the opportunity to speak to you about your life? 3. Are there certain times or places in your daily routine when you are able to hear Jesus speak more clearly to you than at other times? For instance, do you hear Him best when you’re alone at home, driving your car, worshiping at church, or having a private time of prayer?
Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. — John 20:3,4By the time the women reached the apostles, they must have sounded very confused! On one hand, they reported that the angels said Jesus was alive from the dead. On the other hand, they were confused and operating in fear, so they exclaimed, “…They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him” (John 20:2). Fear always produces confusion, and these women were so confused that the apostles didn’t take what they said seriously. Luke 24:11 says, “And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.” The words “idle tales” are from the Greek word leros, which means nonsense, idle talk, babble, or delirium (see April 28). Who did these women think removed Jesus from the tomb? Which story was true? Was He resurrected and alive as the women first told the apostles, or was He stolen away? John 20:3,4 says, “Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple John did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.” When the Bible says Peter and John “went forth,” the Greek tense indicates that their feet were moving before the conversation with the women concluded. When they heard that something had happened at the tomb, both men were on the move to get there as quickly as possible. We also know from John 20:11 that Mary Magdalene soon followed Peter and John back to the tomb, for she was present at the site and remained there after Peter and John returned to the apostles. I find it interesting that when Peter and John raced to the tomb to see whatever it was that the women were trying to communicate to them, none of the other apostles joined them. The others apparently just sat and watched Peter and John put on their clothes and start running, but they didn’t join the two men. Instead, the rest of the apostles probably stayed behind to discuss what they had heard and to debate about what it meant. Because Peter and John ran to the garden, they experienced something the other apostles missed by staying home. It is simply a fact that if you want to experience Jesus Christ and His power, you must get up from where you are and start moving in His direction. John outran Peter to the garden where the tomb was located. As soon as he arrived, John 20:5 tells us, “And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.” The Greek word for “stooping down” is parakupto. It means to peer into; to peep into; to bend low to take a closer look; to stoop down to see something better. John bent down so he could take a close peek into the tomb, and he “…saw the linen clothes lying….” The word “saw” is the Greek word blepo, which means to see. It was just enough of a glance to see the linen clothes lying there. The words “linen clothes” is the same identical word used in John 19:40 (see April 26) when referring to the expensive Egyptian-made garment in which Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had buried Jesus. If Jesus had been stolen, whoever took Him would have taken this expensive garment as well, but John saw that these linen clothes had been left lying in the tomb. Graves were a place of respect for the Jews, which may explain the reason John was hesitant to enter the tomb. It is also quite possible that he observed the broken seals and realized that it looked like an unlawful entry had occurred. Perhaps he was thinking twice before he found himself connected to an alleged potential crime scene. Regardless of why John hesitated, the Bible tells us that Peter didn’t hesitate but promptly barged right into the tomb to check it out for himself: “Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself” (John 20:6,7). John only glanced into the interior of the tomb, but the above verse says Peter went into the sepulcher and “…seeth the linen clothes lie.” The word “seeth” is the Greek word theaomai, from which we get our word theater. It means to fully see or fully observe, like a patron who carefully watches every act of a play at the theater. When Peter entered that tomb, he surveyed it like a professional surveyor. He looked over every nook and cranny, paying special attention to the linen clothes and the way they were left there. He saw “…the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.” The word “napkin” is soudarion, and it refers to a napkin that could be used for wiping perspiration from one’s face. This word was also used in connection with a burial cloth that was gently placed upon the face of the dead at burial. When Lazarus came out of the tomb, Jesus instructed that his grave clothes be removed along with the soudarion, or napkin, from his face (John 11:44). Apparently Jesus’ entire body was wrapped in a large white linen sheet (see April 26), but His face was covered with such a napkin in traditional Jewish burial style. The most fascinating fact about this facial cloth was that it was “…wrapped in a place by itself.” The word “wrapped” is the Greek word entulisso, which means to neatly fold; to nicely arrange; or to arrange in an orderly fashion. The reason this word is so interesting is that it tells us Jesus was calm and completely in control of His faculties when He was raised from the dead. He removed the expensive Egyptian-made burial cloth from His body, sat upright, and then removed the burial napkin from His face. Sitting in that upright position, He neatly folded the burial cloth and gently laid it down to one side, separate from the linen clothes He probably laid down on His other side. Now as Peter gazed at the scene inside the tomb, he could see the empty spot where Jesus had sat between these two pieces of burial clothing after He was raised from the dead. John 20:8 says, “Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.” This verse says that when John saw the empty stone slab where Jesus’ body had previously lain and the burial clothes lying to the right and to the left, forming the empty spot where Jesus sat after He was resurrected, John then “believed.” I find it truly amazing that even though Peter had spent a longer time than John inside the tomb, he was still uncertain as to the meaning of it all. Luke 24:12 says that Peter “…departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.” John, on the other hand, left the tomb believing Jesus was alive. Later that evening, Jesus would appear to all the apostles and breathe the Spirit of God into them, giving them the new birth (John 20:22). But at this moment, because the Holy Spirit was not yet resident in them as their Teacher, there was much they could not understand. Even though Jesus had told them He would die and be raised from the dead, they simply were not yet able to comprehend it. That’s why John 20:9 says, “For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.” Although the apostles had heard this scripture from Jesus Himself, the reality and full impact of its truth had not registered in their hearts. After this historical and momentous day, the Bible tells us, “Then the disciples went away again unto their own home” (v. 10). It is remarkable to me that Peter could stand in the middle of Jesus’ empty tomb and still leave uncertain about what it meant. How in the world would it be possible to be in the very room where Jesus’ dead body had lain, to see the neatly folded napkin, to recognize the spot where He sat upright between those garments, and to still not be able to figure out that Jesus was now alive? Yet it starts making sense when I think about it. God has done so many unquestionable miracles for you and me as well. How many times have we walked away unaffected by the power and miracles we’ve seen and experienced? God has delivered us, saved us, and rescued us from harm time and time again; yet we still tend to wonder if God is really with us or not. How in the world could we ever question the faithfulness of God after all He has already done for us? We need to make sure we don’t remain unaffected by the miracle-working power of God that has worked in our lives. Instead, we should make the decision to fully embrace every good thing God does for us — to soak it up so entirely that it changes us and our outlook on life. God is good! He has been good to every one of us. If we fail to remember this, it is only because we are not opening our eyes to see His hand of protection, provision, and safety all around us. So make the choice today to recognize what God has done in your life. Remember to thank Him for it, and then never forget it!
My Prayer for TodayLord, it is true that You have worked so many miracles in my life. If I were to try to recount all the times You have saved me, delivered me, rescued me, gotten me out of trouble, put me on a right path, and blessed me when I didn’t deserve it, I wouldn’t have enough time to recite them all! So how could I ever question that You would be with me right now in my present challenge? Of course You are with me and will help me. Forgive me for being so hardhearted as to forget what You have already done for me. And I thank You right now that You are going to help me this time too!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I am not forgetful of the many ways God has worked in my life. I am mindful of His mercy and grace and I praise Him for it every day. I am a living testimony of His power. He is my Redeemer, my Healer, my Deliverer, and my Provider. He is the One who rescues me from harm and who meets my every need. I am fully supplied in every area of my life because of the promises God has made to me in His Word!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Be honest! Haven’t you had times in your life when you were like Peter? In other words, have you ever been standing right in the middle of God’s gracious provision when a new challenge caused you to wonder if He was going to be faithful to help you make it through in victory? 2. Why don’t you take a few minutes right now to reflect on the miracles God has done in your life? Make a list, and see how many instances of supernatural provision you are able to write down. 3. Since you have a responsibility to tell others what God has done for you, why don’t you find an opportunity today to tell someone one good thing God has done for you? Then ask that person to tell you one moment when he is sure God did something supernatural for him. You may be surprised at how people respond to this question!
In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. — Matthew 28:1,2Jesus is alive! His resurrection is not merely a philosophical renaissance of His ideas and teachings — He was literally raised from the dead! The power of God exploded inside that tomb, reconnected Jesus’ spirit with His dead body, flooded His corpse with life, and He arose! So much power was released behind the sealed entrance of His tomb that the earth itself reverberated and shuddered from the explosion. Then an angel rolled the stone from the entrance to the tomb, and Jesus physically walked through the door of that tomb alive! This is no legend nor fairy tale. This is the foundation of our faith! So today let’s examine the events surrounding the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was resurrected from the dead sometime between the close of Sabbath sunset on Saturday evening and before the women came to the tomb early on Sunday morning. The only actual eyewitnesses to the resurrection itself were the angels who were present and the four Roman soldiers who had been stationed there at Pilate’s command (Matthew 27:66; see April 27). However, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all record the events that followed on the morning of His resurrection. When first reading all four accounts of what happened that morning, it may appear that a contradiction exists between the details told in the various Gospels. But when they are chronologically aligned, the picture becomes very clear and the impression of contradiction is wiped away. Let me give you an example of what appears to be a contradiction. The Gospel of Matthew says there was one angel outside the tomb. The Gospel of Mark says there was one angel inside the tomb. The Gospel of Luke says there were two angels inside the tomb. John says nothing about angels, but does say that when Mary returned later in the day, she saw two angels inside the tomb who were positioned at the head and foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been laid. So who is telling the right story? How many angels were there? As I said, to see the entire scenario that transpired that day, the events in all four Gospels must be must properly sequenced chronologically. So let’s get started! Matthew 28:1 says, “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.” In addition to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, the mother of James, Luke 24:10 tells us that “Joanna” and “other women” came to the tomb. Luke 8:3 tells us that this “Joanna” was the wife of Herod’s steward — evidently a wealthy woman who was a financial supporter of Jesus’ ministry. According to Luke 23:55 and 56, many of these women were present when Jesus was placed inside the tomb, but returned home to prepare “spices and ointments” so they could anoint His body for burial when they returned after the Sabbath day. These women had no way of knowing that the chief priests and elders had gone to Pilate the day after Jesus was buried to request a watch of four Roman soldiers to guard the tomb and an official from the Roman court to “seal” the tomb. How would these women have known of this? They were at home, preparing spices and ointments. Yet while these women were preparing to return to anoint Jesus’ dead body, the tomb was being officially sealed shut and Roman soldiers had been ordered to guard the tomb twenty-four hours a day. Had the women known that the tomb was legally sealed and couldn’t be opened, they wouldn’t have returned to the tomb, for it was legally impossible for them to request the stone to be removed. Mark 16:2-4 says, “And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.” Ignorant of the fact that the tomb couldn’t legally be opened, the women proceeded to the tomb for the purpose of anointing Jesus’ body. As they drew near to the garden where the tomb was located, they wondered among themselves who would remove the stone for them. However, Matthew 28:2 says, “And, behold, there was a great earthquake.…” This earthquake didn’t occur at the time when the women approached the tomb; rather, it occurred simultaneously with the moment of Jesus’ resurrection, sometime after the Saturday sunset and before the women arrived at the garden. When describing the magnitude of the earthquake, Matthew uses the word “behold.” In Greek, this is the word idou. The King James Version translates it behold, but in our day, it might be better translated, Wow! This word carries the idea of shock, amazement, and wonder, so when Matthew says, “And, behold, there was a great earthquake,” he literally means, “Wow! Can you believe it?…” The word idou could also carry this idea: “Whew! Listen to the amazing thing that happened next.…” Although Matthew writes his Gospel many years after the fact, he still experiences amazement when he thinks of this event! Matthew tells us that there was “a great earthquake.” The word “great” is the Greek word mega, leaving no room for doubt as to the magnitude of this event. The word mega always suggests something huge, massive, or enormous. The word “earthquake” is the Greek word seimos, the word for a literal earthquake (see April 25). Just as creation shook when its Creator died on the Cross, now the earth exploded with exultation at the resurrection of Jesus! Mark 16:4 says that when the women arrived at the tomb, they found “…the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.” The word “very” is the Greek word sphodra, meaning very, exceedingly, or extremely. The word “great” is that word mega, meaning huge, massive, or enormous. In other words, this was no normal stone; the authorities placed an extremely, exceedingly massive stone in front of the entrance to Jesus’ tomb. Yet when the women arrived, it had been removed! Matthew 28:2 tells us how the stone was removed. It says that “…the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.” The word “sat” is the Greek word kathemai, which means to sit down. Some have suggested that the ability of the angel to sit on top of such a huge stone may also denote his immense size — in other words, he was so huge that he could sit on top of the enormous stone as if it were a chair. If this were the case, the removal of the stone would have been a simple feat. Matthew informs us that not only was the angel strong, but “his countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow” (v. 3). The immense size, power, and brilliance of this angel explains why the Roman guards fled the scene. Matthew 28:4 tells us, “And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.” The word “fear” is the Greek word phobos, which means to fear. In this case, it was such a panic-stricken fear that it caused the guards to “shake.” This word “shake” is derived from the Greek word seio, the identical root word for an earthquake. The mighty Roman soldiers trembled and quaked at the sight of the angel. In fact, they “…became as dead men.” The words “dead men” is the Greek word nekros — the word for a corpse. The soldiers were so terrified at the appearance of the angel that they fell to the ground, violently trembling and so paralyzed with fear that they were unable to move. When they were finally able to move again, these guards fled the scene — and when the women arrived at the garden, they were nowhere to be found! Luke 24:3 tells us that with the stone removed, these women passed right by the angel who sat on top of the huge stone and crossed the threshold into the tomb. It says, “And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.” But what did they find inside the tomb besides the vacant spot where Jesus had laid? Mark 16:5 tells us: “And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.” First, these women saw an angel sitting on top of the stone at the entrance of the tomb. Now inside the tomb, they see another angel whose appearance is like a young man. The words “young man” are from the Greek word neanikos, referring to a young man who is filled with vigor and energy and who is in the prime of his life. This illustrates the vitality, strength, and ever-youthful appearance of angels. The Bible also tells us that this angel was “…clothed in a long white garment….” The word “clothed” pictures a garment draped about his shoulders, as a mighty warrior or ruler would be dressed. The word “garment” is from the Greek word stole, which represents the long flowing robe that adorned royalty, commanders, kings, priests, and other people of high distinction. As these women stood in an empty tomb, Luke 24:4 tells us that “…they were much perplexed thereabout….” This Greek word for “perplexed” is aporeo, which means to lose one’s way. It is the picture of someone who is so confused that he can’t figure out where he is, what he’s doing, or what is happening around him. This person is completely bewildered by surrounding events. Of course these women were perplexed! They came expecting to see the stone in front of the tomb, but it was removed. Sitting on top of the massive stone was a dazzling angel. To get into the tomb, they had to pass by that angel — but once in the tomb, they discovered there was no dead body. Then suddenly they looked over to the right side of the tomb and saw a second angel, dressed in a long, white robe like a warrior, ruler, priest, or king. The women didn’t expect to encounter any of these unusual events that morning. It would have been normal for their heads to be whirling with questions! Then Luke 24:4 tells us that all of a sudden “…two men stood by them in shining garments.” The words “stood by” are from the Greek word epistemi, which means to come upon suddenly; to take one by surprise; to burst upon the scene; to suddenly step up; or to unexpectedly appear. In other words, while the women tried to figure out what they were seeing, the angel sitting on top of the stone decided to join the group inside the tomb. Suddenly to the women’s amazement, two angels were standing inside the tomb in “shining garments”! The word “shining” is astrapto, depicting something that shines or flashes like lightning. It may refer to the angels’ shining appearance. Luke 24:5-8 says, “And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they [the angels] said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words.” After the two angels proclaimed the joyful news of Jesus’ resurrection, they instructed the women, “But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you” (Mark 16:7). Matthew 28:8 says they “…did run to bring his disciples word.” Mark 16:8 says, “And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre….” Luke 24:9,10 says that the women returned and “…told these things unto the apostles.” Can you imagine how flustered these women must have been as they tried to tell the apostles what they had seen and heard that morning? Luke 24:11 says, “And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.” The words “idle tales” are from the Greek word leros, which means nonsense, idle talk, babble, or delirium. In other words, the women’s presentation of the Gospel probably wasn’t extremely clear, but it stirred enough interest in Peter and John to make them get up and go find out for themselves about Jesus! When we’ve had a supernatural encounter with the Lord, it isn’t always easy to put that experience into words. This is a frustration all of us who know the Lord have felt at one time or another. However, we can’t let that keep us from spreading the good news of what Jesus Christ has done in our lives. We should never forget that although these women seemed to be speaking nonsense and babble, their words were all that was needed to spark an interest in those men that made them get up and go find out about Jesus themselves. As you share Jesus Christ with your family and friends, it is your job to “give it your best shot.” Tell the Good News the best way you know how! But don’t overlook the fact that the Holy Spirit is also speaking to their hearts at the same time you are speaking to their ears. The Spirit of God will use you and your witness to stir hunger deep in their hearts. But long after you are finished talking, God will still be dealing with them. And when they come to Jesus, they won’t remember if you sounded confusing the day you presented the Gospel to them. They will be thankful that you loved them enough to care for their souls! So get up and get going! Open your mouth, and start telling the Good News that Jesus Christ is alive and well!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I am concerned for my family, friends, acquaintances, and fellow workers who still don’t know You as their personal Savior. I’ve been concerned that if I tried to talk to them, I wouldn’t make sense, so I’ve shied away from witnessing to them. But I know You can make sense out of anything I say. Today I am leaning on You to help me witness to people in my life. I need You to speak to their hearts at the same time I’m speaking to their ears! Please help me tell them about Your saving grace!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I am a witness for Jesus Christ! I open my mouth and speak the truth in love, and people want to hear what I have to tell them. This is the best news in the whole world — and when I tell it, people get excited and want to give their lives to Jesus. I am not afraid to speak up, to speak out, and to speak on behalf of my precious Savior. What He has done for me, He will do for others, for He is not a respecter of persons. Therefore, I will boldly tell of the grace of God and what He has done for me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Have you had times when you wanted to tell someone about an experience you’ve had with the Lord, but you felt frustrated because you couldn’t find the right words to explain your experience to them? 2. If you suddenly found yourself in front of someone who was dying and who needed to give his heart to Jesus, would you know how to lead that person to the Lord? If your answer is yes, how would you do it? What would you tell him? 3. If your answer to the above question is “No, I wouldn’t know how to lead someone to Jesus,” don’t you think it’s time for you to start learning how to do this? How could you go about learning how to more effectively witness for the Lord?
Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; And in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand. — John 19:41,42John’s Gospel tells us that near the crucifixion site, there was a garden. The Greek word for “garden” is kepos, and it refers to any garden with trees and spices. It can also be translated as an orchard. The same word is used in John 18:1 to describe the Garden of Gethsemane, which was an olive tree orchard. All four Gospels suggest that this tomb was near the place where Jesus was crucified, but John 19:42 says, “…The sepulchre was nigh at hand.” The word “nigh” is the Greek word aggus, meaning nearby. Most crucifixions were performed along a roadside. Evidently this garden was located in an orchard-like place, just down the road from where Jesus was crucified. John 19:41 tells us that in the garden was “…a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.” The word “new” is the Greek word kainos, meaning fresh or unused. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the tomb had recently been made but that it was a tomb that had never been used — thus, the reason John writes, “…Wherein was never man yet laid.” Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record that this tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, suggesting that it was the tomb he had prepared for his own burial. The fact that it was a tomb “hewn out in the rock” (Matthew 27:60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53) confirms the personal wealth of Joseph of Arimathea. Only royalty or wealthy individuals could afford to have their tombs carved out of a wall of stone or in the side of a mountain. Poorer men were buried in simple graves. The word “hewn” in Matthew, Mark, and Luke comes from the Greek word laxeuo, meaning not only to cut out, but to polish. It implies that it was a special tomb, a highly developed tomb, a refined tomb, or a tomb that was splendid and expensive. Isaiah 53:9 had prophesied that the Messiah would be buried in a rich man’s tomb, and the word laxeuo strongly suggests that this was indeed the expensive tomb of a very rich man. John 19:42 says, “There laid they Jesus….” The word “laid” comes from the word tithimi, which means to set, to lay, to place, to deposit, or to set in place. As used here, it portrays the careful and thoughtful placing of Jesus’ body in its resting place inside the tomb. Luke 23:55 tells us that after Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb, the women who came with Him from Galilee, “…beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.” The word “beheld” in Greek is theaomai, from which we get the word theater. The word theaomai means to gaze upon, to fully see, or to look at intently. This is very important, for it proves the women inspected the tomb, gazing upon the dead body of Jesus to see that it had been honorably laid in place. Mark 15:47 identifies these women as Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses and says that these women “…beheld where he was laid” at the tomb. The imperfect tense is used in Mark’s account, alerting us to the fact that these women took their time in making sure Jesus was properly laid there. It could be translated, “they carefully contemplated where he was laid.” If Jesus had still been alive, those who buried Him would have known it, for they spent substantial time preparing His body for burial. Then after His dead body was deposited into the tomb, they lingered there, checking once again to see that the body was treated with the greatest love and attention. Once they were certain everything was done correctly, Joseph of Arimathea “…rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed” (Matthew 27:60; Mark 15:46). It was rare to find a stone entrance to a Jewish tomb in biblical times; most Jewish tombs had doors with certain types of hinges. A large stone rolled before the tomb would be much more difficult to move, making the burial site more permanent. However, the chief priests and Pharisees weren’t so sure that the site was secure. Fearing that Jesus’ disciples would come to steal the body and claim that Jesus had been resurrected, the Jewish leaders came to Pilate and said, “…Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first” (Matthew 27:63,64). When the chief priests and Pharisees asked that “…the sepulchre be made sure…,” the Greek word sphragidzo is used. This word described a legal seal that was placed on documents, letters, possessions, or, in this case, a tomb. Its purpose was to authenticate that the sealed item had been properly inspected before sealing and that all the contents were in order. As long as the seal remained unbroken, it guaranteed that the contents inside were safe and sound. In this case, the word sphragidzo is used to signify the sealing of the tomb. In all probability, it was a string that was stretched across the stone at the entrance of the tomb, which was then sealed on both sides by Pilate’s legal authorities. Before sealing the tomb, however, these authorities were first required to inspect the inside of the tomb to see that the body of Jesus was in its place. After guaranteeing that the corpse was where it was supposed to be, they rolled the stone back in place and then sealed it with the official seal of the governor of Rome. After hearing the suspicions of the chief priests and Pharisees, “Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can” (Matthew 27:65). The word “watch” is the Greek word coustodia, from which we get the word custodian. This was a group of four Roman soldiers whose shift changed every three hours. The changing shifts assured that the tomb would be guarded twenty-four hours a day by soldiers who were awake, attentive, and fully alert. When Pilate said, “Ye have a watch…,” a better rendering would be, “Here — I’m giving you a set of soldiers; take them and guard the tomb.” Matthew 27:66 says, “So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.” Wasting no time, the chief priests and elders hastened to the tomb with their government-issued soldiers and the special officers assigned to inspect the tomb before placing Pilate’s seal upon it. After a full inspection had been made, the stone was put back in place, and the soldiers stood guard to protect the tomb from anyone who would attempt to touch it or remove its contents. Every three hours, new guards arrived to replace the old ones. These armed soldiers guarded the entrance to Jesus’ tomb so firmly that no one would have been able to come near it. The purpose of the seal was to authenticate that Jesus was dead; therefore, we can know that His body was thoroughly inspected again for proof of death. There is no doubt that Jesus was dead, for He was examined again and again, even as He lay in the tomb. Some critics have claimed that Jesus’ body was inspected only by His own disciples and that they could have lied about Him being dead. However, the body of Jesus was also examined by an officer from Pilate’s court. We can also be fairly certain that the chief priests and elders who accompanied the soldiers to the burial site demanded the right to view His dead body as well so they could verify that He was truly dead. When Jesus came out of that grave several days later, it was no hoax or fabricated story. In addition to all the people who saw Him die on the Cross, the following individuals and groups verified that His dead body was in the tomb before the stone was permanently sealed by an officer from the Roman court of law:
- Joseph of Arimathea carefully laid Him inside the tomb.
- Nicodemus provided the embalming solutions, assisted in embalming Him, and helped Joseph of Arimathea lay Him in His place in the tomb.
- Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses lovingly examined His body and carefully contemplated every aspect of the burial site to ensure everything was done properly and respectfully.
- Rome’s official officer ordered the stone rolled back; then he went into the tomb and examined the body of Jesus to verify that it was Jesus and that He was really dead.
- The chief priests and elders entered the tomb with Rome’s official officer so they could look upon Jesus’ dead body and put an end to their worries that He had somehow survived.
- Roman guards checked the contents of the tomb because they wanted to know for sure a body was there. They didn’t want to be guarding an empty tomb that would later be used as a claim of resurrection, while they got blamed for the disappearance of Jesus’ body.
- After all of these inspections were complete, Rome’s official officer ordered the stone rolled back in its place. While the chief priests, elders, and Roman guards watched, he secured the site and sealed it shut with the seal of the governor of Rome.
My Prayer for TodayLord, I refuse to struggle in my own strength any longer, acting like I can handle every problem and challenge in my life by myself. You were raised from the dead to become my High Priest. I am so sorry for the times You have waited in vain for me to come to You because I lingered, thinking I didn’t need Your help. Starting right now, I am changing this in my life — and when I have a need, I’m going to come straight to You because You are there waiting to help me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI boldly declare that Jesus is my High Priest and that He hears me when I pray. I go to Him and tell Him about my needs and challenges, and He answers me! He gives me strength, power, wisdom, and all the guidance I need to make right decisions and choices. As a result of Jesus’ help, I am strong; I am wise; and I make right decisions and choices in my life today.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!