"Then Sunday Came..."

 "But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.  Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened."  Luke 24:21.

     For the enemies of Jesus His death on the cross was the greatest victory in history.  The Prince of Life was dead and His cold body lay in the grave.
     For the devoted followers of Jesus Christ His death on the cross was the most frustrating tragedy of history.  "...They  mourned and wept."   Mark 16:10.  Mary of Magdala was the first to the tomb and found it empty.  She ran to tell the disciples and met Peter.  Grief and anxiety can be felt in her words, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."  John 20:2.  The other women rendezvoused, but it wasn't for the purpose of meeting the resurrected Christ.  It was to lovingly embalm His body for the long sleep of death (Luke 23:55-24:1).

For Three Days The Truth About Jesus Hung In Doubt

The Prophecies of His Resurrection Remained Unfulfilled.
       Job is the oldest book in the Bible.  It reveals the faith Job had in both his resurrection and that of his Redeemer.  He raised the question, "If a man dies, will he live again?  He answered his own question,  "All the days of my hard service I will wait, Till my change come."  Job 14: 14.   (Job's body has been waiting 4000 years).  He then spoke his faith, "For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth."  Job 19:25.  Job was stating that after his Redeemer paid the redemption price (death for Job's sins) He would rise again and later stand upon the earth.

David prophesied the resurrection of Jesus. 
    "For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption."  Psalm 16:10.  But for three days the soul of Jesus remained in Paradise, a compartment of Sheol and His body remained in Joseph's tomb.
Jesus prophesied His resurrection,
       "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." John 2:19.  Those who conspired to put Him to death knew what He meant.  "Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise.'"  Matthew 27:63  And so, the seal of the Roman empire was affixed to the stone covering the door of His tomb and a contingent of Roman guards stood watch.  (Matthew 27:64-66).
Jesus had stated boldly,  
     "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.  I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." John 10:17, 18.
Jesus plainly told His twelve disciples of His coming death and resurrection. 
     Matthew describes the first time with these words, "From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day."  Matthew 16:21.  See also Mark 9:9, Matthew 12:40, and Matthew 20:18, 19.
     Yet, for three days the prophecies of Jesus' resurrection remained unfulfilled.

The Claims That Jesus Was The Son of God Were Unsubstantiated. 

On occasion Jesus referred to Himself as "the Son of God"
     "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."   John 3:18.
     "Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live."   John 5:25
     "Do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming' because I said 'I am the Son of God'?John 10:36.
     "When Jesus heard that, He said 'This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.'"  John 11:4
     It is well to remember that after 3 religious trials and 3 civil trials the only count by which Jesus was convicted was that He affirmed the high priest's statement that He was the Son of God.  "Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?'  Jesus said, 'I am"...'What further need do we have of witnesses?  '...And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.'"  Mark 14:61 - 64.
    
 

     Yet, for three days the physical body of the Son of God lay dead like any other man who dies.

The Hopes of God's Promised Kingdom Lay In Ruins

     Every orthodox Israelite believed in a coming kingdom ruled over by a descendant of David.  The great crowds that followed Jesus in Galilee were so convinced He was the long promised king that they tried to take Him by force and make Him the king. (John 6:15).  At the Triumphal Entry, Jesus was hailed as the long promised king.
     It appears the reason the disciples never "heard" the statements of Jesus about His death, burial, and resurrection is because they were engaged in heated arguments as to which one would be greatest in the kingdom of God.
    
     Yet, for three days the only crown Jesus wore was a crown of thorns.

There Was No Salvation For Lost Mankind

     The Emmaeus disciple lamented, "But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.  Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened."  Luke 24:21.
     Paul wrote, "And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty..."   "And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins!"  1st Corinthians 14:14, 17.
     This seems to be one of the most difficult truths for mankind to see.  All religions devised by man are a system of salvation by works.  Much of so-called Christian Religions are a system of salvation by works.  The idea is that if you are good enough God will take you into heaven, but if you have done enough bad things you miss the cut and God sends you to hell.
     The problem is that no human has ever been, or ever will be good enough to satisfy God's righteousness and justice.  The ten commandments are the perfectly just expression of the perfectly just nature of God.  Jesus gave some idea of how holy and righteous God's law is.  We don't have to have a sexual relationship with someone other than our wife or husband to be guilty of adultery.  When a man looks upon a woman with lust he has committed adultery in God's eyes.  If we are angry with someone without a cause we are guilty of murder before God.

 
What Has God Revealed?
     "There is none righteous, no, not one;"..."Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin."  Romans 3:10b, 11, 20.  But even His sacrificial death for our sins is not enough.  Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father except through Me."  John 14:6.  A dead Christ in the grave cannot save anyone.

The Three Elements of God's Saving Gospel
     Stated by Paul "For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures."    1st Corinthians 14:3, 4. 
    
     But for three days there was no resurrected, living Christ to save lost sinners from their sins.

Then Sunday Came...

     Early Sunday morning the earth shook and the stone covering the door of Jesus' tomb was flung away.  The first ones there found an empty tomb. 
     Other visitors were confronted by an Angel.  "Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but is risen..."  Luke 24: 5b, 6.  A steady stream of His disciples came and looked inside at an empty tomb and the Roman guard did not lift a hand to restrain them.
     Before long various disciples began to share their amazing testimonies:

Mary Magdalene was first.  She reported "I have seen the Lord"   John 20:18.  Next came the women who went to embalm Him, "Rejoice!...Do not be afraid.  Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."  Matthew 28:9, 10.  At some point Jesus appeared to Peter. (Luke 24:34). and then the

Emmaeus disciples
made the two mile trip back to Jerusalem and said, "He walked with us and talked with us and ate with us and taught us and rebuked us...".

Ten disciples met that night in the upper room.  Jesus suddenly appeared with the words, "Peace be with you".  He showed them the prints in His hands, feet and side.  (John 20:19-22.)
     On the second Sunday evening Jesus met with the eleven disciples.  This included Thomas who had declared "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."  Jesus invited Thomas to do so, but he fell on his face and said, "My Lord and my God!". This would be his message for the rest of His life.  John 20:25-28.
     Jesus met with seven disciples beside Galilee.  Five are named:  Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James and John.  Peter would testify from that night, "He taught me that my first responsibility is to love Him and my second responsibility is to feed His sheep."  John 21. 

     At some point Jesus appeared to 500 disciples at one time on a mountain in Galilee.  Years later Paul would write that most of them were still alive and testifying, "I was one of the 500 that saw Him and heard Him in Galilee after His resurrection."  (Matthew 28:16-20; 1st Corinthians 15:6.)
     There were 120 disciples who testified, "We were with Him on the Mount of Olives and saw Him ascend back to heaven."  (Acts 1:9-11).
     In time Paul would testify, "In my spiritually blinded condition I persecuted the church of God but I met Him on the Damascus road and from that moment He became the undisputed Lord of my life."

   Yes, on the third day the prophecies of His resurrection were fulfilled.  Jesus' claims that He was the Son of God were substantiated.  The hopes of the Kingdom of God were revived.  Salvation was complete and available.

     The question that remains is:  "What will we do with Jesus?"  Will we reject Him as most of the nation of Israel, or will we receive Him by faith as millions of lost sinners have done?  They, too have testified, "You ask me how I know He lives.  He lives within my heart."

Copyright 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from the NKJV unless otherwise noted

    Copyright 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.