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What the Bible says about Easter

Luke 24:1 - Luke 24:12

Jesus Has Risen

24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.

They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,

but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.

In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?

He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:

‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’

Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.

10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.

11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.

12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Read more from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary of the New Testament

The Resurrection (24:112)

Luke provides three accounts of resurrection appearances: the women at the tomb (24:112), the appearance to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (24:1335), and the appearance to the eleven disciples in Jerusalem (24:3649). He then concludes his Gospel with a short account of Jesus’ ascension (24:5053).

All four Gospels agree that women first discovered the empty tomb on Sunday morning and that the resurrected Jesus first appeared to women. This is particularly striking since women were not considered reliable witnesses in first-century Judaism. Josephus claims to be reporting the law of Moses when he writes:

Put not trust in a single witness, but let there be three or at the least two, whose evidence shall be accredited by their past lives. From women let no evidence be accepted, because of the levity and temerity of their sex.

While the reference to two or three witnesses comes from Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15, the statement about women is nowhere found in the Old Testament and must come from first-century rabbinic traditions. Philo, too, claims that women are “irrational” and should not be trusted. Considering this background, it is unlikely that the followers of Jesus would have created stories in which women were the primary witnesses to the empty tomb. Few would have believed them. This is a strong argument for the essential historicity of these accounts.

1 Peter 1:3

Praise to God for a Living Hope

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Read more from NKJV Study Bible

1:3 according to His abundant mercy: Our salvation is grounded in God’s mercy, His act of compassion toward us despite our condition of sinfulness. has begotten us again: God has given believers a new, spiritual life that enables us to live in an entirely different dimension than the one our physical birth allowed. to a living hope: Hope here does not imply a wishfulness but rather a dynamic confidence that does not end with this life but continues throughout eternity. through the resurrection: Although this phrase may modify the phrase “to a living hope,” the context suggests that it is to be understood as the means of our salvation rather than the means of our hope (see 1 Cor. 15:12–19).

Luke 24:1 - Luke 24:12

Jesus Has Risen

24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.

They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,

but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.

In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?

He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:

‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’

Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.

10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.

11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.

12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Read more from Zondervan Bible Commentary (One Volume)

The Empty Tomb (24:1–12)

(For comparison with notes on this chapter, read notes on Ac. 1:1–14, a summary of this chapter.)

The enforced rest of the Sabbath over, the women return early in the morning next day to the tomb, only to find that the great stone which sealed its mouth is rolled away and the tomb empty. As they are wondering what has happened, angelic visitors tell them that Jesus has risen from the dead as He has said He would. The women go back to the apostles to report what has happened, but their story is received with incredulous scepticism.

Luke’s story is in general outline very much like Mark’s, but there are considerable differences in detail.

(a) Mark has one young man at the sepulchre, Luke has two men. (Matthew incidentally has an angel, John has two angels.) These are not necessarily contradictions. The clothes that gleamed like lightning of Luke suggests supernatural beings (cf. 9:29). The difference between one angel or two may be due to nothing more than the fact that two were present, but that one only engaged in speech. At all events, the descriptions that we have are expressions in human words of a phenomenon that far transcended human experience.

But the truth of the story of the empty tomb does not depend on our ability to devise a satisfactory scheme of harmonization, but in the tremendous effect that the event had on the disciples, and on subsequent history.

(b) The lists of women’s names in the two Gospels are slightly different. But neither of them is necessarily complete.

(c) Luke omits the message reported by Mark that Peter and the disciples are to meet Jesus in Galilee. The post-resurrection appearances recorded by Luke are all in Judea, but the disciples are reminded of teaching He gave them in Galilee.

(d) In Mark, the women were so startled by the events at the tomb that they found themselves unable to give the message to the disciples. In Luke, on the other hand, they go and report to the disciples all that has happened, though of course there is no message of a rendezvous in Galilee for them to convey.

The fact of the resurrection is one of the best historically attested facts of ancient history. For a clear and concise survey of the evidence, see J. N. D. Anderson, The Evidence for the Resurrection (London, 1950).

4. suddenly, two men: Cf. the Transfiguration (Lk. 9:30) and the Ascension (Ac. 1:10).


GOING DEEPER

Tombs

The tombs of the dead form a profitable source of information. Many Jewish cemeteries of the years prior to A.D. 70 have been explored in the neighborhood of Jerusalem. One type of rock-cut tomb agrees with that described in the resurrection narratives in its construction. Examples can be seen today, one of the best being the ‘Tomb of the Kings’ in northern Jerusalem. There the low entrance conforms to Jn 20:5 (many tombs have rather larger entries); the stone cover lies to one side, in a slot cut to allow for rolling it across. Inside these tombs the body was laid on a rock-cut shelf, above floor level. After decomposition, the bones were normally gathered into stone chests (ossuaries) for their final rest. Names written on the chests found in such tombs include some also met in the NT, among them Elizabeth, Mary, Sapphira, Lazarus, Jesus son of Joseph — none, of course, necessarily identifiable with the Biblical figures. There is a possibility that two chests of c. A.D. 50 bear brief prayers addressed to the risen Jesus.

Alan R. Millard, “Archaeological Discoveries and the New Testament,” in New International Bible Commentary, ed. F. F. Bruce (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), 1022.