A subject which meets every requisite and criteria for being a great Bible truth is the resurrection of Jesus. As it began to dawn toward the first day of the week (following Jesus' crucifixion on the preceding Friday), the two Marys came to the sepulcher into which Jesus' body had been placed. The angel said to them, "Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay" (Matt. 28: 1-6). The resurrection of Jesus has power and attraction to man (Phili. 3: 10). If Jesus had not resurrected, all would have been lost and there would be no hope in this life or after the grave, Paul states (I Cor. 15: 12-22).
Jesus' resurrection was prophesied. David prophesied thus of Jesus' resurrection: "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell ("hades," dm); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Ps. 16: 10). David was speaking of Christ's resurrection (Acts 2: 29-33). Jesus himself prophesied of the event and the triumph of his resurrection (Jn. 2: 19-22). The resurrection was fulfilled (Lk. 24: 6-8).
Time of resurrection. The time was "in the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week" (Matt. 28: 1), "when the sabbath was past" (Mk. 16: 1), and "now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning" (Lk. 24: 1). John's account simply reads, "The first day of the week" (Jn. 20: 1). The "first day of the week" (our Sunday) is the day of significance in the New Testament. This was the day upon which the church was begun (Acts 2), the Spirit descended on the apostles (Acts 2), the gospel was first preached in its totality (Ibid.), and the day of worship (Acts 20: 7, I Cor. 16: 1,2).
Precaution taken by the Jews. The Jews were aware of Jesus' statement, "After three days I will rise again" (Matt. 27: 63). They also knew that this Jesus whom they had opposed and had crucified was no ordinary man (Jn. 11: 47-53). The rulers viewed Jesus' resurrection as a definite threat to their status; hence, they went to great pains to take precaution. The chief priests and Pharisees approached Pilate with the request, "command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure " (Matt. 27: 64). Pilate told them, "Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can" (vs. 65). The Jews did two things: They sealed the stone and set a watch (vs. 66). However, all the precautions of the Jews served the opposite effect - they helped prove Jesus' resurrection. The watchmen became witnesses (Matt. 28: 11). The rulers evidently believed the guard (report that Jesus had resurrected) because no efforts were made to search for the body or to criminally pursue the guards.
Efforts to disprove the resurrection. The Jewish rulers were utterly dishonest. As stated, they already knew Jesus' teachings and miracles. In addition, they now knew Jesus has been triumphant over the grave. Notwithstanding, they bribed the soldiers into lying. The statement they paid the soldiers to make was, " Say ye, his disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept" (Matt. 28: 13). They assured the soldiers that they would be protected against Roman reprisal (vs. 14). The soldiers also did something which is unimaginable, they took the money and lied about what had happened (vs. 15, they did this knowing that Jesus had resurrected - He was the Son of God as claimed).
Witnesses of the resurrected Jesus. There were many witnesses of the resurrected Jesus. "And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep," Paul wrote of the resurrected Jesus (there are thirteen recorded instances in which the resurrected Lord was observed, see addendum).
The purpose of the resurrection. The resurrection proved Jesus' Sonship: "And declared to be the Son of God with power," Paul wrote, "by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1: 4). Jesus' resurrection is a pledge for the resurrection (attendant glory) of the Christian (I Cor. 15: 20). The resurrection is the very basis of our faith and hope (I Cor. 15: 14-19).
What a privilege it is to serve a resurrected Lord!
Addendum: Jesus made thirteen recorded appearances after his resurrection. They were:
Early Sunday morning (what man calls "Easter") Jesus appeared to Mary Magdaline (Mk. 16: 9, Jn. 20: 11-18).
On the same Sunday He appeared to the woman returning from the tomb, near Jerusalem (Matt. 28: 9, 10).
On this Sunday He appeared to Peter alone (Lk. 24: 34).
On Sunday afternoon he appeared to two disciples going to Emmaus (Lk. 24: 13-31).
On Sunday evening He appeared to the apostles, except for Thomas (Jn. 20: 19-25).
Sunday evening of the next week He appeared to all the apostles, Thomas included (Jn. 20: 26-29).
At an unspecified time He appeared to seven disciples while they were fishing (Jn. 21: 1-13).
At a time we cannot determine He appeared to eleven disciples on a mountain in Galilee (Matt. 28: 16-20).
At an undisclosed time He appeared to over 500 brethren in Galilee (I Cor. 15: 6).
At still another time He appeared to James only probably in Jerusalem (I Cor. 15: 7).
At an unknown time during this period He appears to all the apostles at ascension (Lk. 24: 50, 51, Acts 1: 6-12).
Jesus appeared to Stephen (Acts 7: 59, 60)
Jesus also appeared to Saul of Tarsus as Saul journeyed to Damascus (Acts 9: 3 ff).