Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
(Matthew 28:1-10 ESV)
At dawn on Sunday (the first day of the week), two days after Jesus had died on the cross, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. They were going to anoint Jesus’ body in spices [Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1], a common practice the Jews performed on dead bodies in lieu of embalming.
Notice these women were expecting Jesus’ body to still be in the tomb; they were not expecting Him to be resurrected. But when they get there they get the shock of their lives. An angel greeted them and told them that Jesus was not there; He had risen from the dead just as He said.
Jesus had told His disciples of His impending death and also of His subsequent plans to rise from the grave three days later [Matthew 12:40, 17:9, 20:17-19]. As the angel points out, the women had heard Jesus say these things as well. They all should have been expecting Jesus to rise from the dead. But they were not.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single greatest event in the history of the world. Without it there is no hope for mankind because without Jesus’ resurrection there is no forgiveness of sins [1 Corinthians 15:17].
If Jesus’ did not rise from the dead then, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, the entire Christian faith is a complete waste of time and those who call themselves Christians are pitiful creatures who have wasted their lives [1 Corinthians 15:14, 19].
But Jesus did rise from the dead. And because He conquered death and now lives, those who follow Him will live too even though we will die [John 14:19, 11:25; Romans 8:11]. Someday, all who have believed in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins will live again. This time they will live for all eternity. They will not die again.
God considers death to be nothing more than “falling asleep” [Matthew 9:24; 1 Corinthians 15:20]. It is temporary. Whoever dies on this earth is dead for only a while. Just like we sleep every night for a few hours, we will some day die and “sleep” for a while before being brought back to life to live in our eternal home.
Everyone is an eternal being. Our physical bodies may die, but each of us will live forever. The only question is where. There are only two choices: in God’s presence (aka heaven) or apart from God’s presence (aka hell).
Jesus’ resurrection is the proof that the penalty for sin has been paid and debt forgiveness is available to those who want it. Those who believe they need that forgiveness and accept it have eternal life [John 3:16].
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