The Resurrection of Jesus is the belief that after his death on the cross and burial, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. It is the central theme of Christian theology. It is expressed as part of the Nicene Creed, that Jesus rose again on the third day, as per the scriptures.
The New Testament records the passion and burial of Christ. After he died on the Cross, the body of Christ was taken and buried in a new tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. But, on the third day, Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to many people. After forty days, he was raised to heaven in an event called as the Ascension. There he is seated at the right hand of God, the Father.
The incident of Resurrection is closely associated with the concept of redemption. According to Paul, Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected as per the scriptures. He says that belief in the crucifixion and resurrection is a central part of Christian faith. As Paul states, if Christ was not resurrected, his preaching and our faith are in vain. It also means that those, who have died in Christ, will have perished. If we believe only in one life, we deserve to be pitied (1 Cor 15).
The Resurrection of Christ is celebrated on Easter Sunday, two days after his crucifixion on Good Friday. The date of Easter occurs around the festival of Passover celebrated by Jews to mark their exodus from Egypt, fixed on a full moon night in the Equinox of Spring.
All four Gospels of the NewTestament contain detailed accounts of the arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. These five events of the life of Jesus are described in greater detail in comparison to other Gospel narratives. Readers are given almost an hour by hour account of events. The death and resurrection of Jesus become the climax of the story, the events to which all other events are headed.
On the morning of the third day, the tomb of Jesus was found to be empty. The Bible does not include any reference to the moment of resurrection. The Canonical Gospels describe several appearances of Jesus after his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, prior to his ultimate ascension to heaven.
As per Jewish traditions, the body of Jesus was wrapped in cloth and laid in a tomb. Joseph of Arimathea, who performed these last rites, is identified by some as a disciple of Jesus and some others as a righteous member of the Sanhedrin (Jewish Council).
The four Gospels agree on the following events:
- Rolling away of the stone that closed the tomb.
- The tomb found empty by women on the first day of the week
- Jesus appeared first to women and asked them to bear the good news to the disciples.
- The importance of Mary Magdalene.
At the same time, there are some differences on the time when women visited the tomb, the identity, and number of the women, the purpose of their visit, the appearance of human or angelic messengers, their message to the women and the type of response of the women.
In all Gospels, the importance given by the resurrected Christ to women is notable.
Appearances of The Risen Jesus:
After the discovery of the empty tomb, Jesus made a number of appearances before his chosen ones. But most people failed to recognize him at first.
First, He appeared to Mary Magdalene, who did not recognize him. Then He appeared before two of his disciples (one is identified as Cephas), on the road to Emaus, but they did not recognize till He sat down for supper with him, and He broke bread and offered it to them. He then appeared to his disciples in the Upper Room, where he showed his hands bearing the wounds of the cross to them, especially to Thomas, who had refused to believe in the resurrection till he saw the wounds of Jesus;hence, his name is famous as ‘Doubting Thomas.’
Then Jesus also appeared near the Sea of Galilee and exhorted his disciples to spread the good news of the Kingdom of God. Then, after forty days, he is believed to have been carried up to heaven, to take his place at the right hand of the Father.
Purpose of The Resurrection:
The resurrection of Jesus is crucial for many reasons. The first is that it is the evidence of the immense power of God the Father. When one believes in the resurrection, it means one believes in God. Since God has created the universe and has power over it, it means he has power over death and can raise the dead. The one who has created has the sole power to reverse the hideousness of death. He can destroy ‘the sting of death’ and give victory over the grave (1 Cor 15).
Secondly, the resurrection of Christ is a promise of the resurrection of humanity, which is a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith. Christianity is the only religion where the founder has transcended death and promises the same to his followers. Christians take pride in the fact that God took human form, died for their sins and was resurrected on the third day. He won over death and is seated at the pride of place, beside God, the Father.
The great fact is that Jesus has been resurrected after his death and has become the ‘first fruits’ of those, who have died in his name, assuring us that we will follow his resurrection. Paul says that all our labour in Christ’s name will not be in vain. He points out that since we believe in the resurrection, we can endure all hardship and persecution as He endured for us. We have before us the examples of thousands of martyrs, who gave up their lives for the name of Christ.
The resurrection is a matter of great glory and triumph for every believer. As per the scripture, Jesus died, was buried and rose from the dead. There is also the eschatological promise that he will come again.
How can the resurrection of Christ be crucial to our redemption? This is because God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus on the behalf of humans. It is evidence that God has the power to resurrect us from the dead. It is proof that those, who have faith in Christ will not die forever, but will be raised to eternal life. This is the blessed hope!