The sequence of events, starting on the day that Christ was crucified, has been the subject of many scholarly debates by students of the Bible. (It has also been discussed by many Jews, atheists, agnostics and other non-believers in trying to disprove the resurrection story - WM). The difficulty in arriving at a consensus is due to the seemingly contradictory reports from the four Gospel writers. Two Gospel writers tell us how women went and told the disciples in the city they had seen an angel, and yet Mark (Mark 26:8) declares they told no man, which is a contradiction. (Yet it is not really a contradiction because an Angel is not a man - WM) Luke (the beloved physician) relates how two angels were in the tomb, whereas John says only one angel was seen by the women. Then, when he and Peter went to the tomb they saw an angel there. These and other discrepancies in the Resurrection story have perplexed Bible scholars for centuries. Critics of the Resurrection story quickly point to such contradictions as evidence that the Resurrection was a concocted story by embarrassed disciples after the death of their leader.
By casually comparing the accounts given by all four Evangelists, it does appear their accounts contain discrepancies. However, when we compare their accounts together with a physical examination of the Garden Tomb, the variances can be fully reconciled. Each of the four accounts has its own special contribution to make. Of these, only John’s account is of an eyewitness, and his account bears all the little details which an eyewitness would notice. The others supply only second-hand information. Remember, all four accounts were completed many years after the events recorded. Thus, the first three writers, giving second-hand information would have recorded only those points which would have left indelible impressions upon the mind of the eyewitness who passed them on, omitting many other details.
Matthew provides us with a good deal of detail in the account of the burial of Christ; the visit of the women; the opening of the tomb by the angel, and the consequential actions of the rulers. We may conclude that the greater part of this information, if not all of it, was derived from Joseph of Arimathea, corroborated by one of the two Marys, both of whom witnessed the burial and visited the tomb. What information they had, undoubtedly would have been passed on to Joseph of Arimathea.
On the day that Christ was Crucified, His disciples were probably split up into small groups in and about Jerusalem. Some of them may have been at the home of the “upper room.” Jonna’s home (Luke 8:3) may have had a home of his own in Jerusalem, or he may have stayed with a relative. Wherever John stayed, most likely there was also Peter, Mary (the mother of Christ), Mary Magdalene and perhaps Mary Cleopas, the mother of James the Less. These latter disciples had followed our Lord from Galilee.
According to Matthew, Mark and Luke, the Crucifixion of Christ occurred at about the “sixth hour.” (About noon) Shortly after the ninth hour (3 p.m.) the soldier “pierced His side and forthwith came there out blood and water.” (John 19:34) Joseph of Arimathea then applied to Pilate for permission to remove the Body of Christ from the Cross. Pilate agreed to this request but first sent a messenger to the centurion in charge of the Crucifixion to verify the death. While this was being done, Joseph went to buy a linen cloth to wrap the Body in while Nicodemus went to obtain myrrh and aloes.
Among the mourners watching Joseph remove the Body of Christ from the Cross (actually a stake) were (among others) “Mary Magdalene, and Mary (Cleopas) the mother of James and Joses, and the mother (Salome) of Zebeddee’s children.” (Matthew 27:56) “Now there stood by the cross of Christ his mother, and his mother’s sister (sister-in-law) Mary the wife of Cleopas (brother of Joseph the carpenter) and Mary Magdalene.” (John 19:25) “There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary (Cleopas) the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome.” (Mark 15:40) Some have raised the question, “Why was not Mary of Bethany at the caraways, if she loved Christ so much?” The answer is: she was there; she was Mary Magdalene! (See: “Dedicated Disciples” by Henry Stough, p. 48; Artisan Sales, 1987)
After Joseph of Arimathea, with the help of Nicodemus, had deposited the Body of Christ in the sepulchre, they wrapped the Body temporarily in a linen cloth (sprinkled) with spices. Because of the short time before the preparation for the Sabbath, they did not have time to properly prepare the Body for burial. They then rolled a large stone (partly prepared for future use) into position covering the doorway and went away, intending to buy prepared spices to make the full and final burial arrangements as soon as the Sabbath had ended. No doubt, they rested from sunset on Friday to sunset on the Sabbath (Saturday) in accordance with God’s law. They did not know of the happenings on the Sabbath day that followed the Crucifixion.
On the next day, the Sabbath, a deputation of priests went to Pilate and asked to have the tomb guarded. Pilate told the priests (you have a Jewish guard use them - Matthew 27:62‑66: “Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. PILATE SAID UNTO THEM, YE HAVE A WATCH: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.” - WM) to set the guard and, as a further precaution, had the tomb officially sealed.
(Matthew 27:62) Sunday, about 5:30 A.M., the Resurrection of Christ occurred. The source of information regarding the miraculous opening of the tomb is an interesting subject of speculation, for it is clear, from John’s account, that this was not witnessed by Joseph or any of the disciples.
“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.” (Matthew 28:2) Matthew then goes on to tell us that some of the guards went into the city to tell the chief priests what had happened. We are not told how many stayed or how many left the tomb. We are told the chief priests did meet together in council to discuss wha5t should be done. (Matthew 28:11) Some time must have elapsed before this could take place.
The opening of the tomb by the angel was undoubtedly witnessed by the guards because “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 28:2-3) They were evidently afraid to come near the tomb or try to replace the stone. Some of their number would have rushed back to the city with the information that the tomb was open. This would have been around 6 A.M., at which time word was spread to the members of the council to meet in emergency session. Some time would have elapsed before the council members could all be present - perhaps around 9 A.M.
Between the hours 6 A.M. and 9 A.M., the guards would have been spreading the news unless or until being forbidden by the priests. No doubt Joseph, as owner of the tomb, would have been officially informed and consulted regarding the breaking of the seal. After all the elders had taken council they decided on a plan to hush the matter up and deny the Resurrection. “They gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night and took him away while we slept.” (Matthew 28L:12-13) (This proves that the guards were Jewish guards, because Roman guards would not have been able to take bribes to keep quiet, neither could they have slept at their posts, because that would have caused their immediate execution - WM) However, by this time a great many people must have heard the truth in spite of the lie the guards had been paid to tell. It was all to the interest of the guards to do as they were told.
All of Matthew’s account of these events could have been obtained from Joseph of Arimathea. On the other hand, Mark’s account of the Resurrection must have come from the women since he gives us a great many details regarding their visit to the tomb. Mary Magdalene’s activities are reported in greater detail which suggests most of Mark’s information was derived from her. Mark inserts one detail omitted by the others, namely, that Mary received a special command to bear the news of the Resurrection to Peter. If this is true then it indicates that she and Peter were staying at the same house as John and Mary, the mother of Christ. Possibly, Mark obtained Mary Magdalene’s story of what happened through Peter who naturally emphasized the detail that a special message had been sent to himself.
Luke’s account presents the greatest difficulties because in several details he appears to conflict with the other Gospel writers. Luke uses only twelve verses to cover the entire Resurrection morning’s events. Most of the remaining forty-one (chapter 24) are used in detailing the account of the walk with Cleopas to Emmaus, the return of the two to Jerusalem, the meeting of the disciples in the Upper Room and the Lord’s appearance there.
The Visit of The Women: The women who visited the tomb on Resurrection morning included Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother) of James, Joanna, and Salome, and “many other women which came with Him unto Jerusalem.” (Mark 15:41) These women disciples were present (as onlookers) at the Crucifixion and watched as the Body was prepared for burial. They appeared to have noted the omission of the ointment, which was commonly used, in addition to the spices, for burials and they determined to supply this omission as soon as the Sabbath was over and the shops again open.
Some scholars have speculated the women visited the tomb again on the Sabbath: This belief is based on Matthew 28:1, which reads, “In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week.” If this interpretation of Matthew’s words is correct, it is necessary to assume an interval of some hours between the two sections of this one sentence. Not only would this seem unlikely but is clearly contradictory to the parallel passage by Mark (16:1) which reads:”when the Sabbath was past.” The passage in Matthew may be similarly translated “when the Sabbath was past,” instead of “in the end of the Sabbath.”
There is another point to be considered. If the women had paid a visit to the tomb on the Sabbath they would have seen the presence of the guard and the sealed stone. In all likelihood they would not have attempted to visit the tomb on that morning. They would have known that even if they could have persuaded the guards to roll back the stone so they could complete the anointing of the body of their Lord, the guards would not have had the authority to break the seal to admit them. Everything points to the conclusion that no visit was paid between the time of the burial and the visit on Sunday morning.
The Sabbath ended at 6 p.m., at which hour the shops would open; so it was then that the two Mary’s bought ointments and additional spices. (Mark 16;1) All the Gospel writers agree that the women visited the tomb the next morning. Sunrise, early in April (at Jerusalem) would take place at about 5:30 a.m. John, in his account, states they set out “when it was yet dark.” (John 20:1) They doubtless chose this time, while the first streaks of dawn were beginning to illumine the Eastern sky, when few people would be about and they could do their task alone and undisturbed.
Bible scholars differ on who composed the party of women who visited the tomb on Resurrection morning. Did they all go together or in separate groups? An analysis of the various statements made by the evangelists will provide us with the answer. John speaks only of Mary Magdalene as if she had been alone but her words to Peter and john (a few verses further on) state, “we know not where they have laid Him,” implying that others had accompanied her. (John 20:1-2)
Matthew mentions Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, but goes on to say that the angel spoke to “the women” (Matthew 28:5) in the tomb. Now, since John clearly implies that Mary Magdalene ran back to the city without entering the tomb and seeing the angel, there must have been others beside the other Mary left at the tomb, otherwise the angel could not have spoken to “the women” in the tomb, after Mary Magdalene had departed. Mark definitely mentions the two Mary’s by name and adds that of Salome. Thus, we can conclude that Matthew, Mark and John all referred to these three as comprising (or including) the first visitors to the tomb after the Crucifixion.
This brings us to Luke’s account, which appears to deviate somewhat from the other three writers. Luke begins by telling us (23:55) that the women from Galilee viewed the grave at the time of the burial and from Mark’s account this band numbered hardly less than about ten. Luke, continues by saying “they,” this band of women, visited the tomb early on the “first day of the week.” (Luke 24:1) Luke speaks of all the women going while the other writers speak definitely, by name, of only three going. While this is not necessarily contradictory, Luke goes on to give certain details which appear to differ from the other three writers. His women saw no angel in the tomb when they first entered, and as they wondered at not finding the body, “two” angels “stood by them.” (Luke 24:4) In the other accounts the women speak of only one angel.
These contradictions can be explained away by the natural assumption that all the women agreed to visit the tomb. The first three to arrive were Mary Magdalene, the other Mary and Salome; the rest arrived afterwards. This would be a natural conclusion since the two Mary’s had been staying with John’s mother, Salome, at John’s house, while the rest of the women were staying in some other house, possibly Joanna’s. Thus the women would be divided into two parties, and although both groups planed on going to the tomb at dawn, they would have set out independently of each other and would have arrived separately.
In regards to Lukes’’ account of the visit of the women to the tomb, if we are right in assuming that he simply recounted their visit as he had heard it from Mary or another of the women at a later date we should expect to find the incident related in general terms. Thus there would be no attempt at denial or at explaining that they set out in two groups from two different locations, and arriving at the tomb separately. He would be content with telling us in a few words the general facts of their visit, and something of what occurred.
In tracing out the early Resurrection morning story we shall attempt to reconstruct it by comparing the accounts given by all four
Evangelists: It is still dark when the two Mary’s and Salome set out from John’s house. They were the first to reach the tomb. As they follow along the path which leads to the entrance of the tomb they stop and look amazed to find there was no stone covering the entrance. They look “up along backwards” and see it lying at the top of the slope. They recognized it at once although they had not noticed it as they came down the slope toward the entrance to the tomb, for they had not expected to see it where it now lay. They recognize it at once because two of them had been present on the evening of the Crucifixion when it was first placed in position. (Matthew 27:60-61)
The women are so surprised to see the open tomb they stand still and gaze at it and begin to discuss how the stone was moved and who did it. It cannot have been the disciples for they, if they had desired to get into the tomb, would have been content with just moving the stone to one side. If it was not the disciples, then it can only have been their Master’s enemies, who had done it. But why should they move the stone up the slope? Perhaps they had done so in order to prevent it being replaced; to allow the tomb to remain open. But why would it be left open with the body of Christ still inside? This clearly could not be. The tomb, therefore, being open and difficult to be re-closed, must be abandoned. It is the only obvious conclusion they can arrive at. They decide it must have required a good many men to move the stone up the slope, so the soldiers must have done so before removing the body of their Master. Perhaps some of the soldiers are still at the tomb. Such would be the nature of their discussion.(Mary’s words in John 20:2, “We know not where they have laid him,” shows that a discussion took place).
The thought of the enemies of Christ having taken His body from the tomb overwhelms Mary Magdalene and with tears in her eyes she immediately runs back to John’s house to acquaint Peter and John with the news. “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.” (John 20:2) Seeing the tomb open and noticing the location of the stone explains completely Mary Magdalene’s action in arriving at the wrong conclusion, then hastening back to the city without a closer investigation of the tomb. Had she entered the tomb she would have seen the angel and the grave-clothes, and would not have arrived at the false conclusion that His body had been stolen.
The other two women remain behind to await Mary’s return. Hearing no one about they, at length, step down to the tomb opening, stoop down and look in. As they peer into the tomb they are startled by the presence of a strange person clothed in a long white garment who speaks to them, “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come see the place where the Lord lay.” (Matthew 28:5-6) Then the women were told to “go quickly and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead.” (Matthew 28:7)
Mark tells us that the angel the woman saw was inside the tomb when they approached. (Mark 16:5) Obviously the angel was the one who sat on the stone outside of the tomb when the tomb was opened. He had, thus, entered the tomb on the approach of the women. Had he remained on the stone outside, his presence would have frightened away the women as it had done the guard. In the tomb he awaited them, and, as they caught sight of him, he spoke quietly and reassuringly to allay their fears. He then led them in to view the empty loculus and the linen clothes. Apparently, the mission of the angel was to open the tomb, admit the women, and afterwards admit the disciples.
The angel had no part in the actual Resurrection of Christ Who needed no help in rising or to come out of the sealed tomb. Our Lord evidenced on His Resurrection Person the power to appear and vanish, for in the Upper Room He appeared in the midst of His disciples, the doors being shut. He was as able to pass through the rock out into the open as He was to pass into the Upper Room. The angel had only to break the seals on the tomb (no person would have dared to break the seals) and remove the stone so some of the disciples would be able to enter and witness the fact of the Resurrection.
It is important that the tomb be opened by supernatural means. If it had remained sealed and guarded, the world would have had stronger grounds for denying the Resurrection, and would have claimed (as many critics do today) that our Lord’s subsequent appearances were merely spiritualistic. Even the disciples, themselves in later days, might have come to believe this also. It was essential that the tomb be opened by supernatural means. Also, the opening of the tomb should be done in such a complete manner that it could not be easily re-sealed; for a few hours. It was also imperative that no guard should remain to hinder, in any way, access to it.
After entering and viewing the empty tomb, the two women, though hidden by the angel to go tell the disciples, nevertheless fled in fear and kept the news to themselves. (Mark 16:8) Some hours later, they apparently recovered sufficiently to relate their experience to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. It is at this point that Luke picks up the thread of the narrative. Although Luke speaks in general terms of the visit of all the women the few additional details he adds appear to refer to the visit of the second group of women. The main party evidently arrived on the scene just after the departure of the first three women from the tomb. Luke’s narrative emphasizes their number. Not only does he say that the party was composed of the women from Galilee (with the exception, of course, of the first arrivals) but he tells us that certain others were with them. (Luke 24:1)
It would appear from Luke’s account that just before the arrival of the second group of women, the angel had vanished and the tomb was quite empty. However, as they were looking in amazement at the empty loculus “two men stood by them in shining garments.” (Luke 24:4) The question now arises, why were not the men (angels) visible when they first entered and why were there two instead of one? Several points need to be considered to give us the answer to the questions. The first group of three women; arriving in the early dawn, would naturally fear to enter, especially if they had noticed the unusual location of the stone. For that reason, the single angel ha stood just inside to reassure them with a few quiet words. Withe the much larger group, in clearer daylight, it would be different. Their numbers would give them more assurance.
It is most probable that while one of the women stooped down at the entrance preparatory to entering, another would have peeped in at the widow above and to one side of the door, while the others stood by. Had an angel been present and spoken quietly again, to the one at the door, the one at the window would not have heard his words, but would have taken flight at seeing him. An exclamation of fright, involuntarily uttered, would have communicated itself to the others standing by. The whole group would have turned around and fled. For this reason, the two angels concealed their presence until all were inside.
The presence of two angels can be conjectured by the fact that it was necessary that the grave-clothes should not be disturbed until they had been seen by Peter and John. The angels were present to guard the grave-clothes and prevent the women from handling them when only two women entered the tomb, one angel would be sufficient to serve this purpose. (Both Matthew and Mark record the one angel) But when the second and larger group entered, two angels (Luke 24:4) would be needed; one at the head and the other at the foot of the loculi. In the Garden Tomb the loculi is so placed that several persons could look into it from long its sides. It could also be viewed from the ante-chamber; looking over the low wall at the foot of the loculi.
We can imagine the women crowding into the apparently empty tomb. Some of them penetrated into the inner chamber to see the loculi, where lay the grave-clothes; apparently undisturbed, maintaining the shape of the body. In the dim light one or more of them would have impulsively reached out and handled the clothes, for they had come with the intention of unwrapping the body. Two angels therefore, revealed their presence at the right moment (probably at each end of the loculi) inspire awed restraint upon the women, and explain to them what had happened. These women, unlike the first party, set forth eagerly o tell their news. Perhaps their number dissipated the fear which had fallen upon the first two. The second group of women hurried into the city, and then on to Bethany. Such is the story as told jointly by all four Evangelists.
If you are wondering how the angels could be present and unseen, consider the following.
The Bible relates that Angels appear and disappear. Is there an explanation for their seeming invisibility?
The atheist, agnostic and many so‑called "Ministers," because they have accepted the doctrines of modernism, disbelieve the account of the appearing and disappearing of such Beings as the Angel of the Lord (They are even so spiritually blind and stupid as to deny the Virgin Birth of the Lord Jesus Christ!).
They discount the statements of the New Testament that Jesus Christ did the same thing. When His disciples touched Him they found His body to be flesh and bone. "How can substance become visible and invisible at will?" Ask the atheist, agnostic and modernist "Ministers" and all others who will not accept the witness of the Scriptures. This question was being pondered one day when an electric fan was observed with its fan blades revolving at high speed. It was noticed that the steel blades of the fan were invisible to the naked eye: in fact, it was possible to see through them to objects beyond the fan as though the fan blades did not exist. Yet, obviously, the fan blades were right there in place all the while. This, without doubt, was an interesting demonstration of a solid substance that was in existence but invisible to the human eye.
Thus, rapidity of movement, either continuous or vibratory, would have the effect of making the object which was moving invisible. On the other hand, the blades of a rapidly whirling fan can be instantly made visible to the human eye by the rhythmic flashing of light in step with the speed of the blades. To all intents and purposes, the blades would appear to be at rest though they would actually still be revolving at a high rate of speed. Thus with this simple demonstration poses the interesting question as to whether the difference in vibration between terrestrial and celestial objects and beings accounts for the fact that angels can be present yet invisible to man.
Is it also possible that, either by slowing the rate of vibration or by focusing a light tuned to the rhythm of the celestial being upon him, visibility to human beings is brought about? The removal of the vibratory light, which men may not necessarily be aware exists at the time he sees the celestial being, would immediately make him invisible in the same way that the angel of the Lord became invisible to Gideon and others.
The Visit of Peter and John: We have noted that Mary Magdalene, without entering the tomb, ran back to relate to Peter and John the hasty, but erroneous news, (that she and her two companions gathered) when she saw the open tomb and the position of the stone, that the body of Christ had been stolen away. These two disciples, we read, set out at once for the tomb, followed soon afterwards by Mary, who perhaps lingered at the house a few moments to break the news to Christ’s mother, that something heartbreaking had happened to the tomb.
John describes what happened when they hurried toward the tomb; the following is B.F. Westcott’s exact translation of the Greek: “Peter, therefore went forth, and that other disciple (John), and went on their way toward (not ‘and came to’) the sepulchre. But they both began to run, the two together; and the other disciples (John) ran on in front more quickly than Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down and looking in sees the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.” (John 20:3-5)
Obviously John looked in the window which gave light to the inner tomb area. It was perfectly natural and logical that John would have gone to the window first. He was acquainted with the construction of the tomb and knew the window would give a perfect view of the loculi in which the body of Christ had lain. The grave-clothes could easily be seen from the window. The words which follow in John’s account are full of deep significance. Translated literally from the Greek they read: “Simon Peter, therefore, also came following him, and went right into the sepulchre. (That is without hesitation or delay, and clearly while John is still looking in at the window). And he gazes upon the clothes lying, and the napkin that was upon His head, not lying with the linen clothes. Therefore (not then) went in also the other disciple (John) and he saw and believed (The Greek word for believed means saw with intelligent thought) For as yet he knew not the scripture that He must rise again from the dead.” (John 20:9 - Westcott)
From the above passage it is clear that John was still looking in the window when Peter entered the tomb, and continued to look in after Peter’s entrance, for the words, “stooping down, looking in, sees,” are in the continuous present. There are two grounds for this assumption. The expression “went right in” implies that the entrance was unobstructed, which would not have been the case if John was looking in through it. The use of the words “therefore went in the other disciple” implies that John followed Peter in, not merely because Peter had entered, but because he (from the outside) observed Peter inside gazing intently at the linen clothes.
John’s account clearly indicates the presence of a door and a window such as the Garden Tomb contains. The door gives access to the outer room chamber while the window gives a clear view of the finished loculi. John arrives first. Having been told the tomb is empty, he naturally makes for the window from which he could see the loculi. His attention is immediately riveted upon something unexpected. It so surprised him, that he paused to look harder and hesitated before going in. Peter, meanwhile, runs directly down to the entrance and goes straight in. From the window, Johnsees him inside, and notices that Peter is also attracted by something unexpected. John “therefore” leaves the window and joins Peter inside.
Obviously, what both disciples saw that held their attention was the linen clothes lying stretched out, still retaining the shape and form they had borne when enclosing the body of Christ and absolutely untouched. The use of the word “lying” suggests that they were lying in some special way and the napkin was also lying in some special way, “wrapped together in a place by itself.” (John 20:7) The napkin was still lying twisted r9ound in its own head cavity, as if it still enfolded Christ’s head; but the place where the face would have been visible was empty space. The body had vanished without disturbing the grave-clothes. Christ had passed through them, even as He passed through the rock and into the Upper Room with the doors shut. (John 20:19)
The napkin “not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself: is significant. It suggests a “head-cavity:” such as is usually found in Hebrew tombs of the Herodian period and just such a cavity is found in the finished loculus of the Garden Tomb. If the tomb of Christ had not possessed such a head-cavity the expression “in a place by itself” would not have been used. The presence of the head-cavity certainly is proof of the tomb’s age and period.
It is not difficult to imagine what John was thinking as he stayed looking through the window into the tomb. He expected to see the empty loculus because Mary had told him that the body of Christ had been stolen away; as she thought. What he did see was what looked (from the window) like the body was still there. The grave-clothes still stretched out, retaining the shape of the body, would naturally give this impression. We must remember, also, that he was looking into a darkened place from outside. His head would block out much of the small amount of light that could penetrate the window. The white linen clothes would therefore, be the most conspicuous objects in the tomb. In the dim light he would hardly be able to notice, even if he could see it from where he stooped looking in, the empty space where the face should have been visible.
Actually, from the window, the upper part of the loculi where the head-cavity is located is not visible. However, he lingered at the window believing Mary had made a mistake, and the body was still there. It was only after John saw Peter gazing intently at the loculi did he enter to stand beside Peter. Then the truth became evident, for the clothes were empty. In his account, John makes it absolutely clear that it was the sight of the clothes that made him believe. He wrote: “Therefore went in also that other disciple (himself), which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw and believed, for as yet he knew not the scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” (John 20:8-9)
John’s account makes no mention of the two angels. They had evidently vanished since this portion of their mission had been completed. They were to guard the grave-clothes from being touched by the women. (The presence of one angel sufficed for the two women and two for the larger group of women that followed). It was essential that the grave-clothes must lie undisturbed in such a manner that what had happened would be obvious to any who saw them. Had the women touched them, the shape would have been destroyed and the witness they afforded to the Resurrection lost. The statement of the women who touched them would never have been believed by the other disciples.. It was, therefore, critical that some of the men disciples should also witness the appearance of the grave-clothes.
Upon the entry of Peter and John, the necessity of the grave-clothes being guarded ceased for they would represent the eleven disciples as witnesses. Therefore, angels were needed only before they entered. The evidence of the grave-clothes would be quite sufficient in themselves. Peter and John knew if the body of Christ had been stolen from the tomb the grave-clothes would have been taken also or just thrown to one side. Or; in the unlikelihood that another disciple had removed the body and (in the process of more completely preparing it for burial) exchanged the grave-clothes for others, the old clothes would have been either lying carelessly about or neatly folded up in the loculus, as is generally supposed from the A.V. translation.
The two disciples were at once convinced, and when they subsequently saw Him, they needed no further proof that the Resurrection had occurred. They knew that the body of Christ had miraculously disappeared out of the grave-clothes from the tomb, and had not been removed by human hands. It is interesting to note that there is no record of any of the other disciples vising the tomb, which may have been because the authorities had very early taken precautions to prevent others from finding the truth.
By the time the main band of disciples had come in to the city from
Bethany, the opportunity to observe the tomb was gone. In the conversation between Christ and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, it is recorded that “certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.” (Luke 24:24) This was evidently referring to the visit of Peter and John. Their remark is of importance because it implies that the main band did not visit the tomb, and did not even attempt to do so, which corroborates the suggestion above.
It is highly probable that Peter and John themselves disturbed the grave-clothes at the time of their visit, which would further account for there being no attempt on the part of the others to visit the tomb. In any case, the main point lies in the fact that, after the visit of the two disciples, all necessity to preserve the grave-clothes intact had passed away. Peter and John returned to the city shortly after their visit to the tomb. From what the disciples on the road to Emmaus told Christ we gather soon afterwards they were in the Upper Room, although we do not know if they went straight there from the tomb. The news of the Resurrection seems to have spread very quickly among the believers and the Upper Room became an immediate meeting-place.
Mary Magdalene: To follow the movements of Mary Magdalene we must go back to the time that Peter and John visited the tomb, saw the grave-clothes intact and had left. Mary evidently returned to the tomb, shortly after the men had left. “But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down and looked into the sepulchre.” (John 20:11) Mary is still under the impression that the body of her Master was stolen. She was overcome with grief, and stood outside weeping. She probably looked in through the window as John had done, somewhat indifferently, for she does not expect to see anything there, only the place where He had been laid; now empty. However, her attention suddenly becomes fixed as she gazes in. Two angels, in white, are seated at either end of the loculi. Between them lie the clothes but probably no longer maintaining the shape and form of the body of Christ. As mentioned before, most likely they had been disarranged by Peter and John and now lie in confusion.
But why are the two angels there? Why have they reappeared? Mary is far too upset in her mind to find the answer, but we may perhaps supply it as no doubt she did afterwards when she thought over the event. If our supposition is correct, that the grave-clothes were now disarranged, there is no longer any visible proof for Mary that Christ had risen; nothing apart from these two angels to disprove her early conclusion that His body had been stolen away. The angels had reappeared to reveal the truth of the Resurrection to her. “And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.” (John 20:13) Mary is too grief-stricken to understand what she sees, but dimly realizes that something has happened. She is much too stressed to make an effort at thought, and almost mechanically answers with the same statement she had previously made to the disciples.
At this point, Mary turned away and saw Christ standing but failed to recognize Him. We can speculate as to why she failed to recognize her Savior on sight. It could be because her eyes were dimmed with tears, or because she was stooping and half turned toward Him. Another explanation is that Christ was standing more or less between her and the rising sun. The Garden Tomb faces south and Christ could have been standing to her right or eastward from her. Yet another explanation could be that Christ was wearing a different kind of clothing, for His old robes had been divided among the soldiers.
These are all probably contributory causes for Mary’s failure to recognize Christ at once and discount any claim that His face or form were altered. She is simply aware of a man behind her, and is too much preoccupied with her thoughts to look closely. In fact, it would have been strange had she recognized Him under the circumstances. There was nothing in Christs’ greeting to her to reveal His identity; “Woman, why weepest thou; whom seekest thou?” (John 20:15) Such remarks would have been what the gardener of a private garden would make, when coming upon a stranger at so early an hour. She naturally assumed Christ to be the gardener, when she replied, “Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.” (John 20:15)
Mary seems to come to the conclusion that maybe the gardener would know what happened to the body of Christ. It might be possible that he, and not Christ’s enemies had removed the body. In her feverish imagination she can only think of getting Him back again. When Christ answers, “Mary”she turns and looks Him full in the face and cries “Rabboni.” (Most of the texts add before “Rabboni,” in Hebrew, “My Master” or”O Master,” either of which reveals her intense emotions in recognizing her Master. Perhaps Mary rushed to Christ and laid hold of His feet, not to prove to herself the reality of His presence but simply as an act of devotion and love.
Christ apparently does not check Mary’s devotion for the moment. It is essential that she would have full assurance of His material presence for without it their testimony to the disciples might be lacking in force, and after many days she might even come to think she had only seen a spirit vision. Perhaps as she holds His feet she sees the marks of the nails. The King James text says, Christ said unto her, “Touch me not.” However, Westcotts Gospel of John reads: “do not go on holding Me, for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God and your God.” (John 20:17)
Mary was allowed to be the first to see Christ, that she may be the first to bear the news to the others. This was to be done at once. News had already gone forth “He is risen,” but no one knew anything as to His continued presence on earth; in material form. As it was, a plot was already being formed by His enemies (the Jews - WM) to deny it all. Now, Mary hastens to do what Christ asked of her. She hurried back, perhaps to the house where she is lodging with Peter and John and Christ’s mother. Finding them gone, she follows them to the Upper Room. The whole scene now becomes clear: The stone, the disarranged clothes, the two angels, Her Master calling her by name. In His feet; the nail prints and His countenance brightened by the glint of triumphant victory.
Mary now understand it all. The grave-clothes were only empty relics of His suffering and the angels were there to reveal to her why they were empty and to prepare her for seeing Him in the garden. We can almost hear her describing it to the disciples in the Upper Room, with Peter and John corroborating and adding some details. Mary’s Master had risen indeed!
Israel’s Coming Blessings
Christ tasted death for Israel Matt. 15:24
And this but once; no more; Rom. 6:9
Yahweh willeth all Israel to be saved; 1 Tim. 2:4
He will all things restore. Acts 3:21
Soon all the dead shall hear Christ’s voice John 5:28-29
To wake them from death’s sleep; Dan. 12:2
And death and hell (grave) shall yield their dead Rev.20:13
From earth and ocean deep. Isaiah 26:19
And Abraham’s Seed shall bless the earth Acts 3:25
And give to all the light. John 1:9
That they may know Yahweh’s holy will Jer. 31:34
And learn that which is right Isaiah 26:9
But those who will not hear the voice Acts 3:23
Of the Spirit and the Bride Rev. 22:17
Will be destroyed in the Second Death - Rev. 21:8
Eternal life denied. 1 John 5:12
But they “who will” need never die, John 11:26
For plain will be the way Isaiah 35:8
That leads to perfect human life Joel 2:28
And joys of endless day. Isaiah 35:10
With Satan bound a thousand years, Rev. 20:2-3
Beneath Christ’s chastening rod Psa. 89:32
The ransomed race can seek and find Hosea 13:14
Full harmony with Yahweh. Rev. 21:3
A race redeemed, an earth made new Isaiah 65:17
Riches and wealth untold; Num. 14:21
A world where righteousness will dwell 2 Pet. 3:13
And man Yahweh’s grace behold! Psa. 97:5-6
Where pain and sickness, grief and death Isaiah 33:22, 24
re memories of the past; Rev. 21:4
Where loving faithfulness to Yahweh Matt. 25:31-40
Forevermore will last. Rev. 21:22-26
Was the Crucifixion Story A Hoax?: Some atheists say that the Crucifixion of Christ never happened. They say only in the Bible record, not substantiated by secular history, can the Crucifixion story be found. Such a belief is founded on a lack of knowledge, and unbelief. History does give validity to the Crucifixion of Christ.
1). Tacitus, the Roman historian who lived less than a hundred years after Christ, recorded the Crucifixion. In his histories of the Roman Emperors from Nero to Trajan, Tacitus mentions the Great Fire of Rome (in 64 A.D.) And Nero’s attempt to place the blame for it on the followers of Christ. He wrote that “Christus, (Latin spelling for Christ) from whom the name (Christians) had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty (crucifixion) during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition (referring to Christianity) thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome...” (Annals, SV, 44)
Tacitus was not a Christian, but a Roman historian who abhorred Christianity. He had access to the Roman government records that provided him with proof that not only did Jesus live but was crucified. Tacitus’ writings are clearly historical evidence of the Crucifixion.
2). The Talmud, a collection of Jewish records, debates, doctrines, stories and traditions covering a period from before the birth of Christ to the centuries immediately following, referring to Christ as “that man,”“dead dog,”“the sorcerer,”“Ba’al” and “the hanged one.” (Crucified) Although the Edomite-Idumean religious leaders denied Christ was the promised Messiah, public knowledge force them to record the miracles of Christ and His influence among the people. Among the acts of Jesus they record the turning of the water into wine (of course the Jews would take notice of this, because it did them out of money, as they could not charge for the wine Christ furnished - WM), the healing of the blind, the lame and the leprous and His walking on water. In an attempt to discredit the miracles of Christ and His claim to be the Son of God, they claimed that He was schooled in sorcery in Egypt. (See Matthew 12:24) The Jewish Encyclopedia lists the places where Christ is mentioned in the Talmud. The Talmud also records a list of references to Mary, the mother of Jesus, but in a very uncomplimentary sense.
Although other ancient historians do not refer to the Crucifixion of Christ directly, they do provide further evidence that He did in fact live, a fact denied by some atheists. Three such historians are as follows:
1). Flavius Josephus, who was born about 37 A.D., wrote about the death (in Jerusalem) of James. He refers to James as “the brother (‘adelphos’ which also means ‘cousin’) of Jesus who was called Christ.”(Antiq. Book XX, Ch. IX)
2). Suetonius (contemporary of Tacitus) wrote that about49 A.D., the Roman Emperor Claudius banished all the Jews from the city of Rome (an incident mentioned in Acts 18:2).”He (Claudius) expelled the jews from Rome, on account of the riots in which they were constantly indulging, at the instigation of Chrestus.’ Chrestus is generally understood to be a misspelling of the name Christ. (The Lives of the Caesars, Book V, 25)
3). Pliny the Younger, who as governor of Bithynia (in Asia Minor) during the latter first century and the early second century A.D., provides us with additional evidence that Christ was a historical figure. To counteract the growing spread of Christianity, Pliny wrote letters to the Roman Emperor Trajan inquiring about how to deal with the Christians. One such letter, written about 111-113 A.D., asks: “...if persons of the most tender age stand on the same footing as the more adult; whether the penitent is to be pardoned or if a person who had once been a Christian shall have no benefit of ceasing to be one, whether the mere name of Christian apart from crime, is punishable, or only crime coupled with the name.”
Pliny goes on to state the procedures he had been using in dealing with Christians:”I asked themselves whether they were Christians. If they admitted it, I put the question a second time and a third, with threats of punishment. If they persisted in their confession, I ordered them to be led to execution...those who denied that they were Christians, or ever had been, when, after me, they invoked the gods and worshiped with incense and wine your statue which I had ordered to be brought for that purpose...and further, reviled Christ-things which it is said that no real Christian will do under any compulsion; I considered should be dismissed.”
Pliny’s letters give us an insight into the early Christians. He wrote that they meet on a “fixed day before day-bread”(perhaps a desire for secrecy); they sing. a hymn to “Christ, as to a god;” the recital of the ten commandments; the love feast with its innocuous elements and they accept women as “office-bearers” or “deaconesses.” Pliny reported examination, with torture, of two maids “who were called deaconesses” and their execution for having a “perverse and extravagant superstition.” Both Pliny and caesar knewthatJesus was areal person who lived and taught in the Roman Empire less than a hundred years earlier.
The Roman historians Tactius, Suetonius, Josephus and Pliny were not Christians. Therefore, their writings can be considered “neutral”historical evidence of Christs’ life. The writers of the Talmud (The Traditions of the Elders) were antagonistic to Christ and His teachings. Certainly they would not have invented stories of Jesus whom they made a great effort to discredit. Yes, Christ did live, was Crucified and Resurrected from the dead, as described in the Scriptures.
Yes, Christ did live. The words of Roman historians and other confirm the biblical account of the life and Crucifixion of Christ. To believe otherwise is to go against the laws of evidence.
The Resurrection: The faith of the disciples, the Apostles and the early church rests solely on the Resurrection of Christ. As the Apostles went out to preach the Gospel they continually emphasized the Resurrection of Christ. It formed the foundation of their teaching and they declared themselves witnesses of that fact. Paul wrote: “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14) Thus, he tells us that the Gospel he preached is based on the fact of Christs’ Resurrection.
By His Resurrection, Christ is shown to be the Son of God with power. “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:4)
By His Resurrection believers have a guarantee of their own resurrection and immortal life. “Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.” (Corinthians 4:14) “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14)
By His Resurrection believers have a Savior and High Priest as their advocate before the throne of God. “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Romans 8:34)
By His Resurrection Christ revealed what those who love Him will be like in their resurrection. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:52-53)
To the Christian, then, death is not the end of everything. It is but the closing of the eyes, as it were, in this world order. With no knowledge of passing time, believers will open their eyes again in the presence of our Savior Jesus Christ. “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
The Bible teaches that the death of a believer is a period of which time goes by unmeasured and all mental activity is suspended for that period. “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” (Psalm 17:15) “For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?” (Psalm 6:5) ““His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” (Psalm 146:4) “The living know that they shall die; but the dead know not any thing.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” (Psalm 115:17) “His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not, and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.” (Job 14:21) “But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.” (Daniel 12:13) There are many others that could be named, but these should suffice to show that the dead do not know anything until Christ returns.
Certain Bible passages taken by themselves seem to teach ideas contrary to the above verses. One example is the account of Lazarus and the right man. If taken literally, then it directly contradicts the consistent teaching of the Scriptures regarding the state of the dead. If this parable is an actual happening, then it places heaven and hell side by side; within speaking distance. Also, it is obvious that a drop or two of water from Lazarus’s finger would be useless in the heat of a real fire.
The parable of Lazarus and the rich man can only be figurative, as is many other parables of Christ designed to illustrate a basic truth; being made up of common ideas of things familiar to the people. The International Critical Commentary makes this comment on Luke 16:22: “The general principle is maintained that bliss and misery after death are determined by conduct previous to death; but the details of the picture are taken from Jewish beliefs as to the condition of souls in Scheol, and must not be understood as confirming those beliefs.”
Another example of an erroneous teaching regarding death is the statement Christ made to the thief on the cross; “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) As given in the King James translation, Christ spoke contradictory to other statements in the Scriptures. However the original Greek text had neither punctuations nor word divisions. Given the passage the proper word division, a literal Greek translation reads: “Truly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” This remark can be taken two ways; One, Paradise is the place or state of being where the dead in Christ sleep until the Resurrection. Two, Paradise awaits the thief but no measured time was given until the thief enters therein. Neither interpretation contradicts the Old Testament prophecies concerning the condition of the dead.
The Bible also teaches that the believer will not always sleep. “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then ye also appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:3-4) Christians look forward to that great day, “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)
The death and Resurrection of Christ brought Redemption to His people Israel (the Kingdom Nucleus) and their release from the Curse of the Law. With this act of atonement, God made salvation possible for every human being. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24) “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” (Titus 2:11) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)
But all is not finished. The perfect consummation will only culminate when our Lord returns (Second Advent) to bring about a New Order predetermined by Almighty God before the world was. In this New Order (The Kingdom of God on earth) Jesus will set up an administration upheld by His own Divine Power. “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)
“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21:2-5)
Was The Resurrection Story A Hoax?: Critics say the Apostles invented the Resurrection story to cover their embarrassment upon the failure of their Master to resurrect from the grave. Let’s create a “scenario” with this thought in mind. We have the disciples of Christ gathered together a few days after His Crucifixion. After seeing the tomb still sealed and no evidence of the Resurrection of Christ, one of them suggests that they should become the authors of what would have been the biggest deception the world has ever known. They would first have to decide upon the story they would tell. Second, they would all have to memorize that story and the role each would play.
First, the tomb had to be opened while the guards were asleep and the body of Christ removed. The body was then buried in an obscure location and all sworn to secrecy. Later, over five hundred persons had to join the conspiracy for the Apostle Paul tells that about that number testified to having seen Jesus after His Resurrection; “And that he was seen in Cephas, then of the twelve: After that; he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whim the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:5-7) Thus, we have in addition to the Apostles, five hundred men or more, willing to be a part of the deception. This we must believe, if our critics are right. Each one of those five hundred men were without enough moral fiber to tell the truth, but remained loyal to the LIE.
And yet, later, some of that five hundred men went so far as to allow themselves to be put to death for preaching the LIE. Others languished in jails; all were persecuted, impoverished, laughed at and criticized by their kinfolk for telling this LIE. In spite of all this persecution, not a single one of those five hundred men recanted and said, “I was there when the story was invented.” Yet, any one of them could have earned a fortune from the Indumean-Jewish priesthood for doing just that. Surprisingly, not one did. Why? Knowing what we know of human nature, this is unbelievable.
The fact is the witnesses to the Resurrection could not say that they had conspired and planned the LIE as the critics claim, for the simple reason that no such meeting ever took place. They all told what they had seen; they had seen a Resurrected Christ and they were willing to die rather than deny the fact. There were some men who became apostate and left the early church, as we are told by the Apostle John: “They wen out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us.” (1 John 2:19) They were like those who left Christ while He was yet alive: “But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” (John 6:64-66)
These men, lacking the faith to withstand adversity, fell by the wayside, and so went away from following Christ.
It is a notable fact that there is no record of any of those who deserted the early church denying the Resurrection had happened. If any had denied it, we can be sure that the Indumean-Jewish leaders of that day would have brought it to public notice and it would have remained on the pages of history for all to see. No, the story of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was not “invented.” It could not have been; that is proven by what we know of human nature. Men (and women) from all walks of life witnessed to having seen Christ after the Resurrection - John the beloved disciple, Peter the fisherman, Matthew the tax collector, Thomas, a disbelieving man and a woman who said, “They have taken away my Lord.” (John 21:13) This was not the utterance of a woman expecting the Resurrection.
It is strange that although Thomas and the disciples did not comprehend our Lord’s pronouncement that He would rise again, His enemies most certainly did. They recalled His confident assertions with severe apprehension. They hurried to Pilate and said, “Sir we remember that the deceiver said while he was yet alive. after three days I will ruse again.” (Matthew 27:63) Pilate answered, “Ye have a watch; go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.”(Matthew 27:65-66)
The Scriptures record Christ rebuking the Apostles for their lack of faith and expectancy. “Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.” (Mark 16:14) Through their senses, His disciples knew Christ had indeed risen from the tomb. They knew now that their faith was not in vain. They worshiped a living Savior Redeemer Who shall never again taste death.
Our Lord’s Resurrection Body: Jesus also appeared to the other women on their way to the disciples, and we are told of them they also “held him by the feet.” (Matthew 28:9) In both instances, Jesus permitted the touching of His body to give assurance that it was a material one. The disciples were to have similar assurance. On His first appearance in the Upper Room, “he showed them his hands and his feet.” (Luke 24:40) in order to dispel a momentary doubt and fear, which seems to have assailed them, as to His physical identity. On appearing to the disciples in the Upper Room, Jesus seems to have been recognized at once, for the account begins, “came Jesus...” (John 20:19) However, their doubt appears to have been occasioned by strangeness of His appearing. They may have thought of Him as a Spirit; a natural conclusion from the fact hat He apparently came through closed doors. This may have prompted Jesus to “showed unto them his hands and his side.” (John 20:20)
A week later, when Thomas was present, Jesus invited the latter to feel Him, again proving His body to be material. But on this occasion they were to receive an additional proof, for He asks them to give Him food. “And they gave him a piece of boiled fish, and a honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them.” (Luke 24:42-43) Christ left His disciples in no doubt as to His presence in material form, and with physical powers, for He showed that he could not only speak but eat.
In John’s Gospel we have another detailed description of Jesus’ manifestation on Himself on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. In his account, John speaks as an eyewitness. He says, “But when morning was come Jesus stood on the shore; but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.” (John 21:4) Again, there is failure to recognize Jesus, which some scholars have taken to mean that His personal form and countenance had changed. Yet, again, natural causes may be found for the lack of recognition. It was early morning and the disciples were some distance from the shore. Then, as now there was often a morning mist rising from the water which would have limited vision.
And, again, there is the question of clothing. It is generally agreed that during His ministry, Jesus wore the ordinary robe of the working class of Galilee. As a rule, these robes were made out of two sections of cloth seamed together all around the center. Some, however, were woven in one piece. This was a better class of garment, which Jesus appears to have worn. Such a garment would have been the envy of the Roman (for some reason the writer confuses the Jewish soldiers with the Roman. For it was Jewish soldiers that were guarding Christ, not Roman soldiers - WM) soldiers who guarded Jesus the night before He was crucified. On Resurrection morning, Jesus laid aside His role of a servant and assumed the character of the Master. It is pure conjecture, but it is not difficult to believe that His costume would not have been another simple robe; representative of His humiliation, but rather a more worthy dress, perhaps even that of a Priest. In any case, Jesus wore new clothes, not the old ones, whatever their appearance.
When Christ spoke to the disciples on their fishing boat they recognized His voice which was further reinforced by the miraculous net of fishes. However, when they landed and drew near Him little doubt seemed to exist. “And none of the disciples durst to ask Him, Who art thou? Knowing it was the Lord.” (John 21:12) Here again, His appearance seems to point to no physical change in His features,. In making this conclusion we must be careful not to preclude the natural change of countenance which His altered circumstances would produce. A look of triumphant glory must have replaced all signs of sorrow, suffering and anguish. When Jesus assumed visible material form His body bore the same identity as before. In form, shape and appearance He remained the same (as we will - WM), even retaining the marks of His suffering on the Stake. In His risen, glorified body He had lost the taint and curse of morality.
Although Jesus partook of food and drink there appears to be no necessity for Him to do so in the Upper Room. He did eat to reassure them as to His identity. In drawing attention to His body, Jesus referred to His flesh and bones. Because blood is not mentioned, some scholars have drawn the conclusion that, as blood is not mentioned, it was not present and they claim blood to be the cause of the process of decomposition ever going on in the living body.
However, the absence of reference to blood does not necessarily imply the absence of blood. It might, for the same reason, be argued that the hair of His head was absent. It is quite possible the flesh and bones were referred to because they would be the most apparent to the touch. Furthermore, the absence of blood in the Resurrection body of Jesus would have resulted in a deathly pallor of the face which can hardly have been the case. However, it is certainly possible that the glorified body of Jesus could have retained its natural appearance without the reliance on blood.
With or without blood, we can conclude from the Biblical record that the Resurrection Body of Jesus was no longer subject to the process of decomposition. It was no longer under the curse which all mankind has inherited from Adam. It had become immortalized and glorified. Jesus gained back what Adam had lost when he went from the immortal to the mortal. His corruptible body put on incorruption, and with this change, He manifested the power to materialize or dematerialize Himself at will. No doubt, Jesus had this power, before the Resurrection although He does not appear to have exercised it.
On one occasion Jesus hid Himself, when His enemies sought to cast stones at Him in the Temple. It would appear at first sight, that He did render Himself invisible, yet it should be noted that the words, “passing through the midst of them” (Luke 4:30) are not found in all Biblical manuscripts. “By gliding through the midst of them, He went His way.” (Ferrar Fenton) “But he made his way through them and went off.” (Moffatt) Also, the passage itself does not, of necessity, bear this interpretation that Jesus made Himself invisible. Jesus may have merely walked through their midst exercising a restraining influence on them to prevent their laying hands on Him and then hidden Himself from them.
The power to materialize and dematerialize, at will (which as we demonstrated above the way the angels could have accomplished this), appears to have been the prerogative of angelic visitors to the earth. Several instances are found in the Old Testament where angels appeared as men. As such, they were not spiritualistic but of material form. Abraham was visited by three men who sat down with him at his tent, conversed with him and ate with him. (Genesis 18:8) Two of them were definitely called angels, yet they arrived at Sodom as men. Then they entered into Lot’s house to receive his hospitality. The third is spoken of as the Lord Himself.
Jacob wrestles with a man, but finds out later that He is none other than God Himself. Gideon is visited by an angel of the Lord. At first glance, Gideon does not recognize his guest as such, but apparently thinks he is a prophet. Perhaps the clearest instance is that of Lot who is visited by two angels. Lot receives their message and makes an offering to them of “unleavened bread, and they did eat,” thus showing that he recognized his visitors as of human material form. (Genesis 19:3) In His Resurrected body, Jesus exhibited the same attributes as those divine visitors to the earth in olden days.
The Spread of The Gospel: Following the Ascension of Christ, His believers; empowered by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, commenced their witness to the power of Christ by His Resurrection. The horrible persecution of the Christians drove most of them away from Jerusalem. From written records and traditions, we can trace where many of them went. Mary Magdalene, Martha and Lazarus sailed to France and established missions and churches in Marseilles and other sites along the Rhone River. James and John the sons of Zebeddee, went to Spain. Joseph of Arimathea, with Mary the mother of Jesus, went to Britain and founded the Faith at Glastonbury.
Other followers of Jesus scattered far and wide to plant the Faith; to the cities of the Medes, Galatia, Halah, Pamphylia, Cappadocia and the region of the Euxine Sea; in response to the command of Christ, to go “to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” (The Israelites tribes which had been scattered from the land of their captivity westward as far as Western Europe and the British Isles) In 70 A.D., the Romans completely destroyed the city of Jerusalem. At this time, most Christians still remaining in Jerusalem fled the city prior to the Roman siege. Those who waited too long to escape were either killed or carried into slavery. In many cases, slavery led to a sense of security and a form of freedom that resulted in the acceleration of the Gospel of Christ.
Following the complete defeat of the Jews, in 132 A.D., (The Bar Cocheba Revolt) Jerusalem was devastated more completely than by Tuitus in 70 A.D. The site was ploughed over and a new city, “Aelia Capitolina” was built over the ruins. When the city was rebuilt, various areas around the city became dumping grounds. Probably, at that time, the Resurrection Tomb area was buried under the rubbish thrown there. At later times, more and more debris was scattered which resulted in hiding the tomb completely. If there were any Christians remaining in the area at this time, the location of the tomb would have been of little consequence to them. It was the risen Lord that claimed their thought and attention; not the place where death was overcome.
Today, rediscovered, the Resurrection Tomb is perhaps the most sacred site in the Holy Land (former holy land, for there is no way that it could be classified as holy today with the murderous Zionist Jews controlling it - WM) Christians can not only visit the site but enter the tomb that briefly contained the body of Jesus. They see it empty and recalled he angel’s words, “He is not here for he is risen, as he said; Come, see the place where the Lord say.” (Matthew 28:6)
After Pentecost, Peter could well be speaking for all the disciples when he said: “This Jesus hath god RAISED up, whereof WE are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye do now see and hear...Therefore let all the HOUSE OF ISRAEL know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye crucified both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:33-36)
The Physical Appearance of Christ: This is a reprint of a letter form Pontius Pilate to Iberius Caesar describing the physical appearance of Christ. Copies are in the Congressional Library in Washington.
To Tiberius Caesar: “A young man appeared in Galilee preaching with humble unction, a new law in the Name of the God that had sent Him. At first I was apprehensive that His design was to stir up the people against the romans, but my fears were soon dispelled. Jesus of Nazareth spoke rather as a friend of the Romans than of the Jews. One day I observed in the midst of a group of people a young man who was leaning against a tree, calmly addressing the multitude. I was told it was Jesus. This I could easily have suspected so great was the difference between Him and those who were listening to Him. His golden colored hair and beard gave to his appearance a celestial aspect. He appeared to be about 30 years of age. Never have I seen a sweeter or more serene countenance. What a contrast between Him and is His bearers with their black beards and tawny complexions! Unwilling to interrupt Him by my presence, I continued my walk but signified to my secretary to join the group and listen. Later, my secretary reported that never had he seen in the works of all the philosophers anything that compared to the teachings of Jesus. He told me that Jesus was neither seditious nor rebellious, so we extended to Him our protection. He was at liberty to act, to speak, to assemble and to address the people. This unlimited freedom provoked the Jews; not the poor but the rich and powerful.
Later, I wrote to Jesus requesting an interview with Him at the Praetorium. He came. When the Nazarene made His appearance I was having my morning walk and as I faced Him my feet seemed fastened with an iron hand to the marble pavement and I trembled in every limb as a guilty culprit, though He was calm. For some time I stood admiring this extraordinary Man. There was nothing in Him that was repelling, nor in His character, yet I felt awed in His presence. I told Him that there was a magnetic simplicity about Him and His personality that elevated Him far above the philosophers and teachers of His day. All in all, He made a deep impression upon me and everyone because of His kindness, simplicity, humility and love.
Now, Noble sovereign, these are the facts concerning Jesus of Nazareth and I have taken the time to write you in detail concerning these matters. I say that such a man who could convert water into wine, change death into life, disease into health; calm the stormy seas, is not guilty of any criminal offense and as others have said, we must agree; truly this is the Son of God! Your most obedient servant, Pontius Pilate
Another Description of Christ: The following description of Jesus Christ was written by Publius Lentrelus (spelling may not be correct as writing was indistinct), a resident of Judea in the reign of Tiberius Caesar, to the monarch in Rome. It first appeared in the writings of Saint Anselm of Canterbury in the eleventh century: “There lives at this time in Judea a man of singular virtue whose name is Jesus Christ, whom the barbarians esteem as a prophet, but His followers love and adore Him as the offspring of the immortal God.
He calls back the dead from the graves and heals all sorts of diseases with a word, or touch. He is a tall man, well-shaped, and of an amiable and reverend aspect; his hair of a color that can hardly be matched falling into graceful curls, waving about and very agreeable crouching upon his shoulders, parted on the crown of the head, running as a stream to the front after the fashion of the Nasalizes. His forehead high, large and imposing; his cheeks without spot or wrinkle, beautiful with a lovely red; his nose and moth formed with exquisite symmetry; his beard, and of a color suitable to his hair, reaching below His chin and parted in the middle like a fork; His eyes bright blue, clear and serene. Look innocent, dignified, manly and mature. In proportion of body most perfect, and captivating; his arms and hands delectable to behold.
He rebukes with majesty, councils with mildness, His whole address whether in word or deed, being eloquent and grave. No man has seen him laugh, yet his manners are exceedingly pleasant, but He has wept frequently in the presence of men. He is temperate, modest and wise. A man for His extraordinary beauty and perfection, surpassing the children of men in every sense.” (Taken in part from “The Resurrection Tomb,” by E. Raymond Capt M.A., A.I.A., F.S.A. Scot., published by Artisan Sales, P.O. Box 1497, Thousand Oaks, California 92360, ISBN.0-934666-24-5, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 88-71638)