Today is Easter Sunday 2023 (April 9th), and Christians all over the world are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here is what happened after Jesus’ resurrection as recorded in the Gospel of John, Chapter 20 (NIV):
The Empty Tomb
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Jesus Appears to Thomas
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
The Purpose of John’s Gospel
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (Quote source here.)
In an article published on January 27, 2020, titled “What is the True Meaning of Easter? Why is it Celebrated?” by the Christianity.com Editorial Staff, the following information is provided on the Christian meaning of Easter:
The significance of Easter is Jesus Christ’s triumph over death. His resurrection means the eternal life that is granted to all who believe in Him. The purpose of Easter also means the full confirmation of all that Jesus taught and preached during His three-year ministry. If He had not risen from the dead or simply died and not been resurrected, He would have been thought just another teacher or prophet. However, His resurrection rebuked all that and provided final and undeniable proof that He was the Son of God and that He had overcome death once and for all.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the core of the Christian gospel. Saint Paul says that if Christ is not raised from the dead, then our preaching and hope are in vain (1 Cor. 15:14). Certainly, without the resurrection, there would be no Christian preaching or faith. The apostles of Christ would have continued as the disheartened group which the Gospel of John depicts being in hiding for fear of the Jews. They were in total despair until they met the risen Christ (John 20:19). Then they touched Christ’s wounds of the nails and the spear; they ate and drank with Him. The resurrection became the foundation of everything they said and did (Acts 2-4): “…for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39).
The resurrection affirms Jesus of Nazareth as the prophesied Messiah of Israel and the King and Lord of a new Jerusalem: a new heaven and a new earth. (Quote source here.)
In an article published on March 19, 2021, titled “What is the Proof and Evidence of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?” by Justin Holcomb, priest, professor and author, he opens his article with this paragraph:
Of all the teachings of Christianity, no doctrine is more central than the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The truth of the resurrection has been attacked from every angle. New books and television media regularly appear questioning the resurrection, re-hashing old theories about what happened to Jesus’ body. Since the resurrection is crucial to Christianity, Christians ought to be able to give answers to these inevitable questions with proof and evidence. (Quote source here.) [He provides the answer in his article at this link.]
In the simplest and most profound statement, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is stated in John 3:16-18 (NIV):
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus Christ], that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Gospel means “good news.” And “the gospel of Jesus Christ is the best news anyone will ever hear, and what a person does with this news will determine where he or she spends eternity. God is calling you to choose life. Call on the name of the Lord and be saved” (Romans 10:13) (quote source here).
The question for us today is still the same as it was back then. Do we believe that Jesus Christ is who he claimed to be? Or are we like “Doubting Thomas” who wanted visual, physical proof that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead before he would believe? Jesus provided Thomas with physical proof (see John 20:24-29), and then he told him to “Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27). Verses 28-29 states Thomas’s response, “Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”
On this Resurrection Sunday, Christians around the world celebrate that the tomb is empty and that Jesus Christ is resurrected from the dead and alive and living today. For any doubters, he still says, “Stop doubting and believe… blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
I’ll end this post with the last two verses (30 & 31) in John 20 (NIV): Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God…
And that by believing . . .
You may have life . . .
In His name . . . .
YouTube Video: “Resurrection Power” by Chris Tomlin: