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  • Writer's picturePastor Brandon 'b-side' Alvillar

What REALLY Happened?

Have you ever wondered, what really happened, that 3rd Day - Resurrection Sunday?

If you've ever been confused by the order of events as the Bible presents the details of Resurrection Sunday, you're not alone! I had a same trouble trying to figure out who was where, at what time; where there angles, people; what's up with the earthquake...

There's A LOT of information that the Bible gives, but it's hard to put together. The good news is that, when you do put it together, the scriptures give a SUPER COOL testimony about how the LORD deals with the problem that we all suffer from - unbelief. So check out this quick "reference guide" to see what happened, in what order, how those things affected Jesus' followers, and be encouraged to see how He responded. Here's 10 miraculous things that happened that 3rd day...

Event 1: The Earthquake

Matthew 28:2

A giant stone was rolled in front of tomb that blocked the entrance to the tomb, to conceal and lock the body of Jesus inside the tomb. It would have been an obstacle to the women going to tomb later in the day. Scripture shows that they were concerned on the way down to the tomb about how they would move the stone. The arrival of angels caused an earthquake. This shows how the earth quakes at the presence of God’s heavenly beings! The earthquake moved the stone that otherwise, would have been impossible to move. The Father leveraged His control over creation and angels to remove obstacles that proved Jesus’ tomb was empty, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus was real. God will do what it takes to prove The Resurrection!

Event 2: Tomb Guards Pass Out

Matthew 28:3-4

Roman soldiers were eyewitnesses to the appearance of the angels. When they saw the angels, they passed out. Glory of the Father’s work here, was too much to handle. The power of the angels was too much to comprehend. The earthquake happening at the same time probably freaked them out too. When God starts operating according to His supernatural power, human beings tremble in fear. Trained soldiers who could have taken out one hundred men on their own, passed out from this supernatural event. The text says they became as “dead men.”

Event 3: Mary Magdalene Arrives

John 20:1

The Apostle John wrote that Mary Magdalene got to the tomb when it was “still dark.” Sunrise in Jewish culture is 6am. The description of the time being “still dark,” means that Mary showed up before 6am. The stone was already moved before 6am. The earthquake happened before 6am. The guards were passed out before 6am. The angels were already sitting on the stone before 6am in the dark. The glory and light of the angel would have been in super high contrast to the darkness at the time of day.

Here are some important factors to consider compared to other Gospels. Mary Magdalene was at the tomb first before everyone. There is no reference of anyone else with her at this time – she went by herself. This shows that Mary went to the tomb twice on the day of The Resurrection. The first time Mary went, was before 6am, while it was still dark. The second time Mary went, she went with other women, including “the other Mary,” later in the day. This second visit is documented in Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-2, and Luke 24:1-2.

Event 4: Mary Magdalene Arrives Later

Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-2, Luke 24:1-2

There are different time references to pay attention to. Matthew’s account says the women arrived at “dawn.” Mark’s account explains that the women arrived “very early in the morning.” The description of “early in the morning” in Jewish culture, means that the sun had risen by this point in the day. This means it’s after 6am. Luke’s account agrees with Matthew and Mark saying “very early in morning.” These accounts describe a general time reference between 6am and 8am.

Mary Magdalene went to the tomb earlier and saw the stone had been rolled away, the guards were unconscious, and angels. She left terrified. Mary was afraid, but went back with her friends later that morning. The other women confirmed all the things Mary saw, but Mary’s fear dominated her communication with them. The women were concerned about the stone, but Mary never said anything about what she saw. The other women didn’t know how they could move the stone. Mary never said it was already moved. The other women prepared spices to anoint body of Jesus. Mary never said that angels were at the tomb. Mary’s fear and confusion, caused her to be silent, and forfeit an opportunity to be a witness.

Event 5: Encounters With Heavenly Beings

Matthew 28:5-7, Mark 16:5-8, Luke 24:3-9

Matthew testified that the women encountered an angel. In the original Greek language, the word “aggelos” is used to describe the angel. This describes a literal angel, consistent with other passages describing supernatural beings.

Mark testified that the women saw a “young man” clothed in a long white robe. Mark wrote that the “young man” was sitting to the side of the tomb. The “young man” repeated all the things that the angel spoke first. This “young man” confirmed the testimony of the resurrection given by the angel. Mark used the Greek word “neaniskos” to describe the “young man.” This word is used 10 times in the New Testament, and never refers to angels. It’s the same word used to describe the rich “young” ruler in Matthew 19:20.

Luke testified that the women saw “two men.” The original Greek word that Luke used to describe the “two men” is the word “aner.” This Greek word is used 215 times in the New Testament. It also, never refers to an angel. It refers to male humans 100%. It’s the same Greek word used to describe Jesus as Son of Man, which is the term that identifies His humanity.

The Gospel accounts reference angels AND literal men, to show that God provided angelic and heavenly people (possibly Moses and Elijah) to testify of Resurrection. These angels and men “knew” what had happened, “encouraged” the women, and instructed them to tell the rest of the disciples – especially Peter. They were used by the Father to lead the women to the next phase of the His work concerning the true identity and testimony of Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah of Israel.

Event 6: The Women Leave

Matthew 28:8, Mark 16:8, Luke 24:9

The Gospels show that the women were obedient to leave the tomb and tell the disciples. The attitude of their response is important. Matthew wrote that the women were afraid. Mark wrote that their fear was to the point that they weren’t going to say anything, even though they were on their way to the disciples. They had a similar response to Mary Magdalene’s response when she first saw the tomb early in the morning.

Matthew also wrote that the women had joy. They had a mixture of joy and fear, which caused the women to be out of their minds in a sense. They had an emotional response that couldn’t really be processed logically and rationally because the events they witnessed weren’t logical or rational to human wisdom.

Mary Magdalene was not mentioned with them. John’s Gospel says that Mary Magdalene stood behind while the other women left. The other women left in obedience to the command of angels and men. They responded in spite of their fear. Mary Magdalene was paralyzed in her fear and stood at the tomb. Mary eventually left the tomb, but there is a gap in time and distance between her and the others.

Event 7: Mary Magdalene Sees Jesus

Mark 16:9, John 20:11-18

The Gospel of Mark plainly says Mary saw the resurrected Jesus first, before anyone. The other women left on the way to tell the disciples. Mary stayed behind. This is when Jesus appeared. John’s account is NOT chronological. John testified that Mary went to tomb early in morning. His testimony doesn’t distinguish that Mary visited the tomb two different times. John’s account makes it seem as if Mary saw the empty tomb and brought Peter and John back with her. This is not so. Peter and John did not come at this point in the day. John’s presentation is “poetic” in nature, meaning that his presentation is meant to explain themes – not chronology. The theme of John’s testimony is “unbelief.”

Mary stood behind weeping even though she was commanded to go to testify of the empty tomb. She would not go into the tomb even though she was told to go in and verify the resurrection. She just peeked in from outside. She did not recognize Jesus when she was speaking to Him. When she saw Jesus, she thought it was a gardener. When she thought she was talking to the gardener, she turned back around and wouldn’t speak to His face. She had to “turn” to Jesus when she recognized His voice. She didn’t recognize His face, but at least recognized His voice.

Mary’s response to all of this was reflective of unbelief. Fear kept her quiet. Fear kept her stagnant. Fear kept her from confirming the miracle. Mary felt hopeless, as if she were separated from Jesus forever because of His death. She didn’t see body of Jesus so she figured He was gone forever. She didn’t trust that Jesus was God, having the power to resurrect Himself form the dead. Even after seeing Him, unbelief kept her blind to His appearance. Her actions show that she had dread and terror because of dismay and hopelessness. The revelation of the truth of Jesus’ identity and testimony according to the declared promises of the Father, opened her eyes, gave her joy, and equipped her purpose.

Event 8: The Other Women See Jesus

Matthew 28:9-10

Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene first. She might have needed it most. This shows that Jesus appears to those of need who desperately desire Him. Jesus appeared to the other women second. It’s important to remember they left first and had a head start. Jesus somehow transported Himself to catch up and meet them. This shows the Omnipresence of Jesus, proving that He is God. The needs of one person doesn’t keep Jesus from appearing to others.

When Jesus appeared to women, He did so to encourage them. He started talking with them by saying, “do not be afraid.” Mark’s Gospel said the women were afraid so that they didn’t want to say anything. Jesus appeared in order to encourage them, enabling them to open their mouths at the right time. Jesus does what needs to be done to equip His people. He reveals Himself in time of need to distill fear. The scriptures show that the absence of fear, equips our testimony of Jesus and His true identity. The women struggled to believe The Resurrection in spite of what they saw. Jesus’ response to unbelief was to reveal Himself to them directly. The Revelation of Jesus produces growth for our faith, and removes the fear that cripples us from speaking up.

Event 9: Informing The Disciples

Luke 24:9- 12, John 20:2-10

Luke’s Gospel testifies of more unbelief about the Resurrection. When the women got to disciples and informed them of The Resurrection, they were excited and chaotic. The men didn’t believe them. Mary Magdalene arrived shortly after and confirmed the things the other women had said. At that time, Peter and John went to go check.

None of the disciples believed, even though they were told what would happen. The Gospel of John testifies that John himself didn’t even believe at first, because he didn’t “know” the resurrection. He had heard about the resurrection, but didn’t know and understand. Peter and John noticed certain details about the condition of the tomb, but they didn’t believe or comprehend what they saw. Eventually they all went back to their own homes, even though they were supposed to meet Jesus in Galilee.

Event 10: The Road To Emmaus

Luke 24:13-32

Luke’s account testifies that two men were heading to a city called Emmaus. Emmaus was a “resort-type” of town. It was seven miles outside of Jerusalem. These men were trying to get away from the stress of the things that had happened. Jesus ended up meeting them, revealing Himself to them, and sent them back to Jerusalem to the disciples. God will make use of “the get-away.”

The men were blinded by unbelief also. When these men saw Jesus, they walked and talked with Him, but the text says that their “eyes were restrained.” The original language suggests that Jesus took understanding and revelation away from these men for a time. He purposefully withheld understanding because of unbelief. Like Mary, they couldn’t recognize Jesus because unbelief had blinded them. Jesus essentially concealed His identity from the men because of unbelief. Those who don’t believe, don’t get to see until Jesus opens our eyes. Our spiritual condition has a DEFINITE effect on how we see people and the world!

How does Jesus open eyes? Jesus addressed unbelief. Jesus described their unbelief by calling the men “foolish ones,” “slow of heart,” and “ignorant” of the scriptures they had heard. Jesus addressed their unbelief by “expounding” the Word. Jesus started with “Moses” referring to Genesis & Law. Jesus unfolded the meaning of the Word to those men. Jesus translated the scriptures unto understanding for those men. Jesus taught “the prophets” in the same manner.

Jesus taught all those things as, “Things concerning Himself.” Jesus unfolded the Old Testament scripture to explain how the Father’s Old Testament declarations, revealed Jesus’ identity and purpose. Jesus put the Word into plain dialect for the disciples so that they could understand the plans of the Father since the beginning, and how Jesus was the fulfillment of them. Jesus explained how His identity and purpose was always critical since the time of Moses. Jesus explained how His identity and purpose was the point of all prophecy. Jesus identified His nature and purpose in the Word. Jesus essentially taught how ALL scripture, from beginning to end, reveals and teaches the truth of His identity, nature, character, integrity, and purpose.

Every word; every bit of grammar; every testimony; every genealogy; every poetic writing; every historical narrative in scripture is intended to teach us how Jesus is the Son of God and Messiah of Israel, and what that means to the human race. This is Bible-teaching. This is how Jesus dealt with unbelief.

Jesus’ teaching, coupled with His actions opened their eyes. Jesus took away the blindness by actually doing the things that He taught. Jesus ate with the disciples, gave thanks, broke bread, and distributed the bread to them. It seemed familiar to the disciples. Coupled with the teaching of the Word, the actions of Jesus were sufficient to open their eyes, allowing them to recognize the resurrected Jesus Christ.

Teaching the Word as Jesus taught, AND doing the things Jesus did, opens unbelieving eyes, as the LORD wills. After Jesus disappeared, the men went back and testified the truth of what they knew about Jesus being the Son of God and true Messiah of Israel.

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