As with the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, so His resurrection is at the heart of the true Christian’s faith. If He did not rise again from the dead, then we have no foundation for that faith. “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:14-17). There are many details surrounding the actual resurrection of Christ, found in the four Gospels, that would shed more light on our study, but we will limit ourselves to what Mark reveals, and touch on only a few other details.
The rising of the sun
“And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, 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?” (Mark 16:1-3).
This was a very courageous thing for these women to do. They were expecting to find a band of soldiers guarding the tomb, and they were going there while it was still dark, “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark” (John 20:1). These verses suggest that Jesus did not actually rise on Sunday morning but at the close of the Jewish Sabbath.
These women went to the sepulchre because they loved the Lord. While the men feared being seen, the women boldly and fearlessly took spices to put on the Lord’s body. Nevertheless, we notice that neither they nor the men believed Jesus’ words about His resurrection on the third day. They only thought about the difficulty of getting into the tomb.
The rising of the Son
“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 affrighted. And he saith 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” (Mark 16:4-6).
They did not find any of the presumed difficulties when they arrived at 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 lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men” (Matthew 28:2-4). Instead of armed guards they were met by angels of God, who announced that Jesus was truly and literally raised from the dead. The angels rolled away the stone to reveal that Jesus was already risen.
Christ was crucified and was risen rather than resuscitated. The empty tomb proves that Jesus did rise again. If the Jews had stolen the body, all they needed to do was produce it to prove that He was not the Messiah. If the disciples had taken the body, they would never have sacrificed their lives and possessions for what they knew was a lie. The experience of countless millions of believers since the resurrection bears witness to the reality of what the Scripture reports.
The restoration of the servants
“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 any thing to any man; for they were afraid” (Mark 16:7-8).
The first preachers of the story of the resurrection were women rather the disciples whom Jesus had appointed. They were also commissioned to bring the backslidden Peter to faith again. Jesus had not forgotten or cast away Peter despite the seriousness of his sin. This reveals something of the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. “A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory” (Matthew 12:20) … “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy” (Micah 7:18).
Peter’s pardon was only possible through the resurrection of the One he denied three days earlier. If Christ is not risen then we are still “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). The door of God’s mercy and grace is still open to all sinners. Those who deny the literal resurrection of Christ can never be known as true followers of Christ. “And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 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 Corinthians 15:4-8). Those who refuse to believe what the Bible teaches are eternally doomed, “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).