Lesson 123: The Resurrection
Matt 28:1-15, Mark 16:1-11, Luke 24:1-12
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson # 123. Did you notice, we lack one chapter in Matthew, one chapter in Mark, one chapter in Luke and two chapters in John? That's five full chapters; so, we're getting these four gospels just about blended together. We're ready now to read about that great triumph called the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The greatest moment in history. We'll begin with Matthew's account. But, before we start, let me ask you, Are you learning anything? Well, let me give you a little test (one question): How did the Romans keep time? I said HOW? How did the Romans keep time? Let's see how observant you are? Have you got it? Well, the answer is found at the end of Matt. ch. 27, the last three words in Matthew ch. 27 said something about "setting a watch." Did you catch that? (Bugh!!!!) What terrible jokes! Let's get serious. And, let's start with Matthew. Let's read 15 verses from Matt. ch. 28. Beginning with the first verse of Matthew's last chapter. Did you find it? Let's read! "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. His countenance was like lightening, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying. All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priest all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while ye slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day."
Jesus arose from the dead! What a grand and great thought! It proves that there is life after death. The grave is not final. Jesus proved that without doubt; he has power over death. Glance back at v.1 and let's review. The sabbath had ended at sun down on Saturday evening. At sundown it technically became Sunday, or the first day of the week. These women, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus got out very early that morning; possibly 3 or 4 AM and walked across the city, through the city gate, and on to or near the place of the crucifixion that was called Golgotha; to the garden where the body of Jesus occupied the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Jesus had been placed in that sepulchre late on Friday evening called the day of preparation, possibly 6 or 7 PM. Matthew said here: "as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week", i.e. it was getting light. That's a pretty precise description of the time when you get a handle on it. Undoubtedly they were bringing those spices and ointments that they had prepared Friday night (Luke 23:56). And then what? Behold! Take a close look at that word "behold" in v.2. When you see that word in the Bible, something stunning and outstanding is going to follow. And in this case, it was something STUNNING AND OUTSTANDING. (#1) An earthquake. An earthquake is something you have to experience to appreciate. It gets your attention. You better believe it. Notice that Matthew said, "a great earthquake." (#2) An angel descended from heaven. The inspired writer says this; but, it is not clear if the two Mary’s saw this. It may have happened just before their arrival. (#3) The angel rolled back the stone at the door of the tomb, the "great stone" that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had rolled there on Friday evening and the Romans had sealed sometime on Saturday, the sabbath day. (Matt. 27:60, 66). Then, (#4) the angel sat down on that stone. Probably so the guards would not try to roll it back in place. (# 5) The keepers, i.e. the Roman guards "became as dead men." v.4. That little wax and fiber seal was broken and forgotten. The guards knew that something supernatural was taking place. So, they didn't make any attempt to fight or run, the keepers did shake, v.4. The earth did quake and the keepers did shake. Matthew tossed in a little description of the angel in v.3. He said "His countenance", i.e. the angel's facial expression was like lightening. Can you fathom that? Sounds like the book of Revelation. His clothing was a white as snow. Did you ever see anything whiter than snow? And then, (#6) the angel spoke to the women, "Fear not ye..." The two Mary’s probably needed that. I sure would have needed that. But, the angel calmly said, "Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified." And then "behold", more startling information: "He is not here!" And then, the angel told them where Jesus was, "he is risen, as he said." The angel in a round about way reminded them that Jesus had said this, i.e. promised this beforehand. RISE AGAIN! RISE AGAIN! Those women must have thought those words sound familiar. In Matt. 20:17-18-19, Matthew said, "And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again." You see, Jesus had foretold these things just as plain as day; but, the apostles and disciples understood them in a figurative way. Thus, from this point forward, the things that Jesus had said, began to suddenly make more sense to all the disciples. Jesus' sayings had been widely reported. Even the chief priests and Pharisees had heard this saying, Matt. 27:63, establishes that point. Of course, they didn't believe it; but, they had heard it. Luke reported this in Luke 18:33. Other places Jesus had given the sign of Jonah. Then (#7), the angel invited the two Mary’s to come and look into the tomb as proof that Jesus was not there, that Jesus had risen. But, the poor ladies were probably so shook up emotionally that they probably didn't have any desire to look into the sepulchre. Then (#8) the angel gave the two women a message: "go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you." Go tell the disciples! I'll bet they didn't waste any time getting things in gear. Look at v.8, "they departed quickly!" Can you imagine how quickly? "they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy—" Have you ever had mixed emotions? Fear and Joy at the same time? They "did run to bring his disciples word." (v.8). Now, look at that message back in v.7, just a moment. The angels said, "tell his disciples...he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him..." Do you remember back on Thursday night after the passover, somewhere between the upper room and the garden of Gethsemane; when, Jesus foretold Peter's denial? Jesus had told them they would be scattered like sheep when their shepherd was smitten. But, Jesus told them also, "But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee." (Matt. 26:32 and Mark 14:28). Jesus had appointed them a place to meet him in Galilee, before. The exact place is not recorded, he just said Galilee. The angel told Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus to go remind the apostles of that appointment. Then (#9) as they ran to tell the disciples, "behold", v.9, "Jesus met them." Can you imagine the great emotions of the -women as they bowed and worshipped at Jesus feet? Matthew doesn't tell how Jesus departed from them; but, he said that Jesus personally tried to calm them by saying, "Be not afraid." And then Jesus asked them to go tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee, the same message as the angel had given. The other three writers tell these same events from a little different slant. Neither writer tries to keep the events in exact chronological order.
Then in v.11-15, Matthew is the only writer to tell us about the guards going back into the city and meeting with the chief priests and the elders. But, the council just wouldn't accept the facts. They didn't want it to be that way. It was a little expensive; but, they were willing to bribe the guards to lie and still try to manipulate rather than admit to reality. A Roman guard could be killed for sleeping on duty. But, they bribed the guards to say they slept and the disciples came and stole the body while they slept. The Jewish leaders didn't want that angel story to get out. Now, if the guards had slept, how would they know who came and stole the body? The Jewish leaders were willing to pay big money to have the guards to lie and take a chance on their life and take the chance on controlling Pilate; than, for the truth to come out. Things couldn't have gotten any more corrupt, I think you can see.
Let's read a few verses from Mark. The reference is Mark 16:1-11. We'll read the first eleven verses of Mark's last chapter. Have you got it? Let's read. "And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Solome, had bought sweet spices, and that they might come and anoint him. 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. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were afrighted. And he said unto them, Be not affrighted: ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 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. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they anything to any man; for they were afraid. Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not." O.K., it would appear that the women somehow were split into two groups as they traveled from the place where they were staying in Jerusalem to the sepulcher some place near to Golgotha, outside the city wall. Luke said the two Marys prepared the spices (Luke 23:56). Mark said they "bought sweet spices." Matthew mentioned only the two Marys. However, Mark mentions others. Now, the angel relayed the same message by the second group of women; that the disciples were to meet Jesus in Galilee. However, Mark points out in v.9, that Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. Jesus appeared about a dozen times to many different people, it can be established. We'll try to do an outline of this a little later; but Mark said precisely in v.9, Jesus appeared FIRST to Mary Magdalene. Matthew said the other Mary was with her; but, Mark mentions only Mary Magdalene who delivered the message. Mary Magdalene was the first to relay Jesus' message and the angel's message, which was the same message, to the disciples (v. 10-11). When Mary Magdalene arrived to where the disciples were staying they were weeping and mourning. These disciples simply didn't believe Mary. I suppose they thought she had had a bad night and was hallucinating. It's a little hard to sort out, as you will see; but some think that Jesus appeared to both groups of women; which very well could be.
But, right now, let's move on to Luke's account. We'll read the first 12 verses of Luke's last chapter. Have you got it? Luke 24:1-12. Let's read. "Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they 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, and returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass." Alright, Luke like Matthew and Mark points out this was a Sunday morning, i.e. the first day of the week. Luke mentions two angels instead of one. Luke said that when the women were reminded by the angel, they remembered Jesus' words (v.8). The apostles and disciples just couldn't believe the women's stories. These are the men that the Sanhedrin accused of concocting the story at a later time. Most of the apostles simply dismissed the women's story. However, Peter ran to the tomb to check it out. We learn more about this in John's account. Nevertheless, there is information enough here to reveal that at least the apostles were still together. V.9 said the women "told all these things unto the eleven." This is jumping a head a little, but we learn later in Luke's account (down in v.34) that Jesus appeared to Simon sometime that same day, i.e. on that Sunday. Thus, Peter was likely the second person, to whom Jesus appeared. It is very fitting that Jesus appeared to Simon Peter alone. It must have meant a lot to Peter as well as Mary Magdalene. After Peter's denial, and his weeping, and his repentance; this assured Peter, he was not a cast away. And Peter, being converted, could get along with his duty of strengthening the brethren, as Jesus had assigned him back in Luke 22:32. We'll read John's account in our next lesson. Until then, have a good day.