In the Fulness of Time/Part 157

By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2012
All Three Persons of the Trinity were involved in the resurrection of Christ. God the Father raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 2:36); God the Son declared that He could and would raise Himself from the dead (John 2:19-22; see also 10:18); God the Holy Spirit raised Christ from the dead (1 Pet. 3:18-19).

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The Resurrection of the King. Matthew 28:1-20

Proof of the Empty Tomb. Matthew 28:1-8

Mt. 28:1-8 “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 sepulcher. And, behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of God descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, 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; for I know that ye seek Jesus, who 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 you see him; lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy, and did run to bring his disciples word.”

Mark adds a third woman: “Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome” (Mark 16:1). These three had come, not only to see the sepulcher, but: “had brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him” (Mark 16:1). Mark also records that they wondered how the heavy stone could be removed from the entrance of the tomb to permit them to enter and accomplish their task of anointing the body of Jesus (verse 3). However, a great earthquake occurred and an angel of the Lord descended and rolled away the stone. Though Luke 24:4 and John 20:12 mention two angels, one at the head and another at the foot of the place where Jesus had lain, it was Matthew who gave the most graphic description of the angel who rolled back the stone: “His countenance was like lightning and his raiment as white as snow. And for fear of him the keepers did shake and became as dead men.” Such a revelation of the supernatural in addition to the great earthquake must have rendered the soldiers unconscious! Later, they recovered and some of them went to Jerusalem to tell the incredible story (28:11-15).

The women were assured by the angel not to fear. He specifically declared: “I know that ye seek Jesus who was crucified.” There was to be no mistaking that the One Who had lain in the tomb was Jesus, and that He had risen from the dead, as He had said. As proof, the women were invited to see exactly where the Lord lay. This was very important, for if the tomb had not been empty, the Jews would have found the body of Jesus and ended all talk of resurrection at once! The fact that they did not, indicates that the body could not be found, for He had risen from the dead, and the place where the Lord lay was empty, indeed!

All Three Persons of the Trinity were involved in the resurrection of Christ. God the Father raised Jesus from the dead: “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:36); God the Son declared that He could and would raise Himself from the dead: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up… but he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore, he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them, and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said” (John 2:19-22; see also 10:18); God the Holy Spirit raised Christ from the dead: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit, By whom also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison” (1 Pet. 3:18-19).

The final word given to the women was for them to go quickly and tell His disciples to meet Him in Galilee, as He had said; now it was to be fulfilled.

Proof of the Appearances. Matthew 28:9-10

Mt. 28:9-10 “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 worshiped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid; go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

When all references to the resurrection appearances of Christ are taken together, there are at least ten in the Gospels, and a few others mentioned elsewhere. Yet Matthew mentions only two; the appearance to the women departing from the tomb (Matt. 28:9-10) and the appearance to the disciples on a mountain in Galilee (28:16). The evidence for the resurrection is stated briefly, but positively and without any attempt at embellishing it with non-essentials. In the book of Acts and in the Epistles the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ is explained and emphasized as the essential truth of the gospel, for without it, the sacrifice of a dead Christ would be of no avail regarding the sins of the world.

We are not told how Jesus rose from the grave; the capabilities of the resurrection body are limitless. He appeared instantly through closed doors: “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, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith, Peace be unto you” (John 20:19), so He could just as easily have escaped the tomb through solid rock. Paul said: “There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15:44), so that the resurrection body is one that is adapted to the spirit, not limited to the “natural” order of things. Yet, His resurrection body was one of “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39), the same body that was buried. He used the nail holes to show this (John 20:20, 27). In His resurrection body He was capable of consuming food: “And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish and an honeycomb, and he took it, and did eat before them” (Luke 24:42-43); His body could be felt (Luke 24:39) and held “by the feet” (Matt. 28:9).

At this appearance, Jesus repeated what the angels had said to these women, that is, to go and tell His brethren to go to Galilee where they should see Him. These appearances of Christ were over a period of forty days, in different places, to individuals, small groups, large groups, making deception impossible. Some eyewitnesses were still living when the Apostle Paul wrote about the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:6: “After that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain unto this present time, but some are fallen asleep.

Proof through the Unbelievers. Matthew 28:11-15

Mt. 28:11-15 “Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave much money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night and stole him away while we 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.”

No one would have expected corroboration of the resurrection of Christ by His enemies. Previously, it had been their idea to set a seal on the tomb and a guard in front of the sepulcher, so now they were in a real dilemma; the soldiers actually confirmed “All things that were done” so the only alternative was to bribe the soldiers and seek to perpetuate the lie that the body of Jesus was stolen by His disciples.

Just think of it, how could the soldiers have slept through the noise of rolling back of the stone by the disciples? And if one soldier awoke during the process, why did he not sound an alarm to the rest? Further, who among the disciples at that time was brave enough to attempt such a deed? Why did not the elders and chief priests question the disciples, if this had really happened? These and other questions remain unanswered if such grave robbing had been perpetrated? It was still enough for the Jewish rulers to spread such a lie, but in the weeks ahead, when they did persecute and put the disciples in prison¸ there was such boldness on the Day of Pentecost, “three thousand souls” were saved, and shortly thereafter, “a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 2:41; 6:70). “In the fulness of time,” the truth does win!

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