Rod Nikula | The Voice of Zion April 2019 --
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. —Luke 24:1–12
When Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, His disciples’ faith was severely shaken. They had witnessed many miracles that Jesus did. It was beyond their comprehension that He would suffer and die.
After Jesus died, His body was buried by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but only in secret, because he was afraid of how Jews would react (John 19:38). It had been prophesied that Jesus would arise from the dead, and the priests and Pharisees were fearful that a miraculous resurrection would make even more people believe in Jesus. They were also fearful that Jesus’ disciples would remove the body and claim a resurrection occurred to convince people to follow them. To guard against this, Jesus’ body was placed in a sepulcher, which is a small room cut into rock. A very large stone was rolled over the opening and two soldiers were ordered to guard it.
Witnesses of the Resurrection
On the third day, the greatest miracle happened. Jesus arose from the grave! He was victorious over the power of death, sin and damnation. The first witnesses of the resurrection were a group of women that went to the sepulcher. These included Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary, who was the mother of James. They found the large stone rolled away. Jesus’ body was gone. Only the linens that had been wrapped around the body remained. The women were very perplexed.
Angels from heaven appeared and proclaimed a joyous message: He is risen! They reminded the women how Jesus had foretold this. The women ran to tell the disciples the marvelous news. Peter heard the news and ran to the sepulcher. He saw the empty linens and wondered what had come to pass.
Later many believers saw the resurrected Christ. Apostle Paul also witnessed Him. “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. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15:5–8).
The Holy Spirit and the Gospel
God’s promise of His Son’s first visit to this world was fulfilled. Jesus was born in a lowly manger, lived without sin, died for the sins of the whole world, arose from the grave and ascended into heaven. Jesus taught that one day the world will be destroyed by fire and He will come again to judge the living and dead. Those who have living faith and believe will be called into eternal life in heaven. Those what do not believe will be cast into eternal damnation (Luke 13:24–30).
God has sent the Holy Spirit—the Comforter—to live in His kingdom on earth and to continue the work of Jesus (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit is God in the third person. By the power of the Holy Spirit, believers can forgive others their sins. What is forgiven on earth is forgiven in heaven.
By faith, we who are forgiven see and speak of the living Jesus that dwells in our midst. He is the victor over death, sin and damnation. The forgiveness of sins in His name and blood is the core message of the gospel and we can hear this as often as needed. It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes.
Apostle Paul wrote, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain” (1 Cor. 15:1–2).
Christ is risen! The way to eternal life in heaven is opened for those whose sins are forgiven and believe.