THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
[John:19:31-42]; [Matthew:27:62-66]; [John:20:1-31].
"But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept" (I Corinthians 15:20).
God planned from the beginning of time that some day Jesus would come to earth to show men by His life how they should live; and that He would have to shed His Blood and die that men's sins could be forgiven and they could go to Heaven.
All through the Old Testament the prophets talked about the time when Jesus would come to make atonement for men's sins; and because the prophets believed that Jesus would come, God forgave their sins, too; and when they died they went to Heaven. God told the prophets what they should say, which made it really true; so everything came to pass even if it had been prophesied thousands of years before. (See how many references you can find in this lesson to Old Testament Scriptures, such as [Psalms:22:16]; [Psalms:69:20]; [Isaiah:53:4-7].)
Of course, God did not like it when the first man, Adam, sinned and He does not like it when we sin. He has told us that we must suffer for our sins, and if Jesus had not died for us we would all have to go to hell. But God loved us so much that He sent Jesus, His only Son, the fairest Jewel of Heaven, to suffer for us. Jesus let people spit on Him, put a crown of thorns on His head, whip Him with lashes, talk mean to Him; and He never answered back. He began to carry the heavy cross, but the soldiers found Simon, the Cyrenian, and made him carry it the rest of the way up the hill.
That We Might Live
When the mob came to the top of Mt. Calvary, they laid Jesus on the cross and drove the nails through His hands and feet to fasten Him to it. Then they lifted the cross upright, and Jesus hung there with the Blood running from His hands and feet. After a while, a soldier thrust his spear into Jesus' side, and Blood and water ran out. When the water ran out it showed that all the Blood was gone - it had all been shed for our sins. Now we can come to Jesus and ask Him to wash away our sins with that Blood that was shed on Calvary. Was not Jesus good to us?
It made God feel very sad that men were so cruel to Jesus, so He let darkness come upon the earth right in the middle of the day. It was dark for three hours -- and there was an earthquake, too. That frightened the people, and some of the unbelievers said, "Truly this was the Son of God."
Jesus Laid in a Tomb
The Jews were very careful to keep the Sabbath. You would think, after all the evil things they had done to Jesus, that they didn't have much religion. But there are people today who say they are Christians who tell lies, quarrel, go to shows, and do many things that Jesus does not want them to do.
Because the Sabbath was near, and the Law said that anyone who had been hanged on a tree must not remain there more than that day, the Jews asked Pilate that the legs of Jesus and the two thieves who were crucified with Him might be broken so that they wouldn't run away after they were taken down. When the soldiers came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. Hundreds of years before David said of Jesus: "He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken” (Psalm:34:20). God did not let anything happen to Jesus other than what He had told the prophets would happen.
Joseph of Arimathæa was a good man who was looking for the Kingdom of God, and he had not said a word against Jesus at the trial. We haven't heard about him before, but he now went to Pilate boldly, asking for the body of Jesus that he might bury Him. Joseph had a new grave, not far from the cross, into which he laid Him. Nicodemus went with him and helped to wrap Christ's body in clean, white linen, and they bought expensive spices to use in embalming, as was the custom of the Jews. Joseph was rich, which fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy, "He made his grave with the wicked [the thieves], and with the rich in his death."
No Grave Could Hold Him
The Pharisees who had crucified Jesus remembered that He had said He would rise again. They asked permission of Pilate to fix the grave so His body could not be removed. Joseph had placed a stone before the entrance, and now the Pharisees and priests sealed it and put guards there to watch it. But how puny are the attempts of men to hinder the working of God! "With the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked" (Isaiah 11: 4). You remember when Daniel was put into the lions' den, a stone was put before the mouth of the den, and it was sealed with the king's signet; but that did not keep the angel of the Lord out. The angel came right in with Daniel and closed the mouths of the lions.
When it came time for Jesus to rise, He went right up as though there was nothing holding Him. He had a glorified body with which He could go through the doors when they were shut. When Jesus comes to get His people, those who are ready to go will have the same kind of body, and will go up through the ceiling (if they are in a house) just as though it were not there; and they will be with Jesus.
Jesus had told His disciples many times that He was going to suffer and die, and that He would rise again. But they did not want those things to happen to Jesus, so they didn't even think about them. Jesus had even told them how long He would be in the tomb -- three days and nights (The Jews figured every part of a day as a day and night, and Jesus was dead parts of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.)
When Jesus rose He broke the bands of death. It was a tremendous victory, and the earth shook with the importance of it. He showed us that there is life after death. One time when He was telling His disciples that He was going away, He told them He would live again, and "because I live ye shall live also." Paul tells us that Christ was the firstfruits of them that slept (or were dead), and when He comes again all who are His will arise with glorified bodies to live again ([1 Corinthians:15:23]).
After Jesus left the sepulchre an angel came down to roll the stone away so the disciples could see that Jesus was gone. The guards, who were supposed to be such brave men, became petrified with fright and could not move. Later they told the priests what had happened, and the priests gave them large sums of money to tell people that Christ's disciples had stolen His body in the night. They did not want anyone to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. That, made them look like very poor guards. But some people will say almost anything to get money.
The hearts of the disciples were heavy when they came to the sepulchre to anoint the body of Jesus. Even when they saw the empty tomb they did not realise that Jesus had risen. But two angels appeared who reminded them of what Jesus had said: "The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again" (Luke:24:7). When they remembered those words they ran with great joy to tell the other disciples that Jesus was alive. Mary Magdalene was the first to see Him; and afterwards He appeared many times, sometimes to a few and sometimes to many at a time. John tells us he was there and saw all these things himself, and bears record that they are true.
1. Why were Jesus' legs not broken?
2. What part did Nicodemus have in the burial of Jesus?
3. What three things did they do to safeguard the tomb of Jesus?
4. Who was the first to see Jesus after He arose?
5. Do you think we could be saved if Christ had not died?
6. The words of Jesus, "Peace be unto you," were spoken three times within eight days. What were the occasions?