After Jesus was put in the tomb on Friday, His followers went home, feeling terribly sad. Some of the women prepared spices and sweet-smelling oils to put on His body. Then, as Luke’s gospel tells us, they “rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.” Everyone who believed on Jesus probably were deep in thought throughout that Sabbath, trying to figure out why things had ended the way they did. They had expected Jesus to be crowned king, and now He lay dead.
Before daylight on Sunday, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb. She found the big stone gone from the opening. Looking inside, she saw that Jesus’ body was not there. She ran to tell Peter and John that someone had taken Him away. The two disciples came and looked for themselves. Sure enough, Jesus was gone! They went back home, trying to think of an explanation for what had happened.
Just as the sun was rising, Mary joined two other women who were bringing the things that they had prepared for Jesus’ body. As they neared the tomb, her friends remembered watching the large stone being rolled against its opening two days before.
‘Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” they asked each other. Apparently Mary didn’t tell them she had been there earlier. She saw their surprise, as they came closer and found that the stone had already been moved. And sitting on it was a young man wearing a shining white robe. They could look inside and see two more men sitting where Jesus’ body had been placed. The women were frightened, not knowing they were seeing angels.
‘Do not be alarmed,” an angel said, “you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. Go and tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee: there you will see Him.” The women, trembling with fright, but also thrilled with joy, ran from the tomb. They hurried to report this great news to the disciples.
Mary stayed behind in the garden and stood weeping beside the tomb. She looked in and saw the two men sitting where Jesus’ body had been.
“Why are you weeping?” they asked. “Because they have taken away my Lord and I don’t know where they have laid Him. “Mary answered, sorrowfully turning away.
Seeing a man she thought was the gardener, she said to him, “Sir—tell me where you have laid Him.” The Man spoke her name. “Mary,” He said. She knew that voice!
“Master,” she cried, throwing herself at His feet.
Jesus told her to go to the disciples and tell them to meet Him in Galilee. How joyfully Mary ran from the garden! “He is risen! He is risen!” she must have shouted to everyone she met.
In a few days there was a joyful reunion between Jesus and His disciples in Galilee. Try to imagine how glad Jesus’ friends were to see Him again! It must have been exciting to talk to Him—to touch Him! Now they knew that He surely was the Son of God.
In the days after that first meeting, Jesus often talked with His friends about the work they were to do after He would leave them. Though He wasn’t with them as much as He had been before the crucifixion, there were many times that He explained the Scriptures to them. He wanted them to understand more clearly why He had died. He told them that they should go to all the world, beginning at Jerusalem, and teach that salvation is possible for all who believe on Him. He promised that after He went away He would send the Holy Spirit to help them in their work. They were to wait in Jerusalem till the Holy Spirit came.
Jesus spent forty days teaching these things to His disciples. Then He gathered them all together on the mountain called Olivet, near Bethany. After repeating His promise of the Holy Spirit, suddenly He started rising into the air. He disappeared into a cloud, leaving the disciples gazing upward in amazement.
“Men of Galilee,” the disciples heard voices saying, ‘why do you stand gazing into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Looking around, the disciples saw two angels standing by them giving them this wonderful promise. The angels disappeared and the disciples made their way back to the upper room in Jerusalem. There they were joined by other followers of Jesus. They all waited and prayed for the Holy Spirit to come. They were eager to get started in their work of carrying the gospel to all the world. They were eager to tell people that a Savior had come to make it possible for everyone to be saved.
Maybe the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection seems as if it happened a long time ago. But God could look into the future. He not only saw the people who lived in Jesus’ time, but He could see you, right where you are now. God loved you from the very beginning and wants you to be with Him forever.
It was for you and all your family and friends that He died. Jesus did His part to save you, but now you need to do your part. You need to accept His gift of salvation. Why not bow your head and say, “Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God and that You died for my sins because You love me. I accept Your gifts of salvation and eternal life. Please come and live in my heart forever. Amen.”
People who watch events nowadays do not always report them in the same way. The disciples who wrote the Gospels told this story from different points of view and included different facts. In Matthew 28:1, you will find that two women who came to the tomb are mentioned by name. Mark, in Mark 16:1, gives the names of three. And in Luke 24:10, you will see that there were probably other women present during this wonderful event. It is necessary to read what each writer says to understand the complete story.
The beautiful promise that the angels gave the disciples after Jesus ascended to heaven is found in Acts 1:11.
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11