This story is one of the most important stories out of the entire Bible. It is the foundation of our faith. Yes, Jesus was sent to earth in the form of a baby. He lived on the earth, performed miracles and healed people. The Jews had him crucified at the hands of the Romans. Those are all important parts of the story. But without the resurrection, it is a mere tragedy - not the cornerstone of human history. (See 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, 12-20)
Do not take this story for granted. While you might believe firmly that Christ was indeed raised from the dead by God's power, we must teach this to our children! And not as just a statement of fact. Teach the story. Let them experience the details that are provided to us in the scriptures we listed above.
Here are some highlights:
- Jesus was crucified on Friday (Good Friday), and was buried and in the tomb through Saturday (the Sabbath) and into Sunday morning.
- This is the point at which Christians began their weekly celebrations on Sunday, instead of the traditional Sabbath (Saturday).
- The story specifically says that they went to the tomb very early on Sunday morning (Matthew says it was at dawn).
- This is why we have Easter sunrise services.
- Several women had taken up the cause to take care of Jesus' body in the tomb to embalm it: Mary Magdalene (the former prostitute), Mary the mother of James, Salome. They had the burial spices with them and were discussing on the way how they were going to get the very large stone moved from in front of Jesus' tomb.
- When they got there, they saw that the stone had been moved already and they saw an angel who told them that Jesus had risen from the dead.
- Notice that none of the 12 were with them. Peter had denied Jesus publicly and the disciples were mostly scattered by the time the crucifixion happened. Here we are, 3 days later and these women were dutifully taking care of Jesus' body.
- So the very first proclamation that Jesus had been risen from the dead was given to 3 women.
- They went and told Peter and the disciples, who then ran to the tomb. John gives us the story of John and Peter racing to the tomb. John was apparently the better athlete because he beat Peter to the tomb. But John was a little afraid when he got there, and just stood outside the tomb, looking in. Peter, in accordance with his personality, arrives at the tomb after John but just rushes in the tomb right past him (think the tortoise and the hare!).
- Peter saw the strips of linen that they wrapped Jesus' body in just lying there in the tomb. You could imagine how bloody those strips of linen would be. There would be no doubt that Jesus was no longer there.
- In Matthew, we learn that Jesus then appeared to the group of women and the disciples. They fell down and worshipped him.
- By the time the women got there, the guards had already left and were on their way to the city to tell the chief priests that something had gone horribly wrong. They were in charge of guarding Jesus' body, and somehow he was gone! The chief priests paid off the soldiers to tell everyone that the disciples came to get Jesus' body while they were sleeping. This is silly though - how would the disciples be able to roll away a large stone and take a body without waking up the guards right next to the tomb?
- Even still, some of the disciples who hadn't seen Jesus still didn't believe that Jesus had risen from the dead solely based on the testimony of these women. But Jesus proceeded to appear to many people over the next 40 days to prove that he was indeed risen from the dead.