Jesus’ ministry did not stop at the cross. In many ways it had just begun. Christ said, “It is finished.” Dying on the cross accomplished God’s goal. But part of the victory is conquering death so that we may be raised into eternal life. Without the resurrection, He was just another prophet. But Jesus is more than that; He is our God, our Savior, our Lord. He also had to prepare His disciples for their ministry. And He revealed Himself to many. One day He will return and reveal Himself to all.
1 Corinthians 15:3-8
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
Paul basically was saying, “if you don’t believe me, go ask the hundreds of witnesses that saw Him after He was raised from the dead.” Many saw Jesus resurrected…and one day we will all see Him on His throne; to determine rewards to those who follow Him, for judgement to those who don’t. The first witness was Mary Magdalene.
But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ “ Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.
In ancient culture, women were not regarded very highly. But it was just like Jesus to revel Himself to those of “low esteem.” We are all equal in God’s sight. Not only that, but many of the women who followed Jesus were maybe some of the most faithful, especially Mary. Then He met with His disciples.
Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence.
Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
He commissioned the disciples to go and be witnesses and share the gospel as He commands all of us to do. Then, once He ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to come upon them to give them the power and boldness that they would need. He gives the Holy Spirit to each of us who believe and trust in Him. He also revealed Himself to many of His followers. Paul said over 500. Here is just one example:
Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?”
So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”
Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Jesus has been raised from the dead. He is alive! He revealed Himself to His faithful followers. He taught them the scriptures. He showed them His wounds to verify who He was and what had happened. He restored Peter and the disciples even after they abandoned Him and denied Him. But He is a God of forgiveness. That was His purpose for coming to this earth and giving His life. His resurrection reveals to us that He has conquered death and that through Him we can have life. Just as He was raised, so will we. We have victory in Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:50-57
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written:
“DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY.” “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING? O HADES, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY?”
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.