After Jesus’ crucifixion, no one expected Him to rise from the dead. Multitudes of people had been crucified, and none of them came back to life. Why would the people of that time even consider such a possibility? Today, those who don’t believe in Christ’s resurrection can’t understand why Christians gather in churches to celebrate what to them appears to be foolishness.
Yet we have faith that this event happened, not only because the Word of God speaks of it, but because believers all over the world know with certainty that Christ lives within their hearts.
Those who knew and believed in Jesus didn’t think He could come back to life after being crucified. Joseph, who was a member of the Council, asked Pilate for His body, prepared it for burial, and placed Him in a tomb. Early on Sunday morning, some women came to the tomb with more embalming spices for His body. If either Joseph or the women had expected Jesus to return to life, they wouldn’t have made all these preparations for His burial.
Even Jesus’ own disciples who had walked with Him for three years, heard Him teach, witnessed His miracles, and watched Him raise the dead didn’t expect His resurrection. Earlier in His ministry, when He first revealed that He was going to be killed and rise on the third day, Peter denied that this would ever happen to Him and was strongly rebuked by Jesus (Matt. 16:21-23).
But just as He had said, Jesus died on a cross, and when the women returned to the tomb, they found it empty. Two angels told them that Jesus had risen. Only then did they remember His words about His resurrection. When they told the disciples, they thought the women were speaking nonsense (Luke 24:11-12). But Peter and John got up, ran to the tomb, and discovered it was true: Jesus was no longer dead.
Everything changed the day the stone was rolled away from the tomb. Christ’s offer of salvation rests on His resurrection—proof of His power, sovereignty, and justice. So what would you say to someone who doesn’t believe in the resurrection? Be sure you’re always ready to give a reason for the hope you have in Christ (1 Peter 3:15).
This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “Because He Lives” which airs this weekend on TV.