30 The Resurrection
by Hubert F. Sturges, www.everlastingcovenant.com, December 2013
For I delivered unto you first of all that
which I also received, how 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: 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4
cross, Jesus not only paid the penalty for the sins of humanity, but He
conquered death and hell (Rev. 1:18). Jesus’ death on the cross
overwhelmed the disciples. They had questions for which they had no
answers. To the disciples, it was the failure of all their hopes and
To Jesus, it was a glorious victory. He confirmed
the everlasting covenant of God, which passed from anticipation to fact.
He confirmed the efficacy of the many animals sacrificed for sin. He
confirmed converted sinners in their assurance of salvation. During His
life on earth, He met Satan repeatedly in confrontations with wicked
men, many of whom were intent on putting Him to death. In healing the
sick, casting out devils, and teaching the people, Jesus showed His
kindness and commitment to restore all that was lost in Eden. This was
climaxed in four trials and the horror of crucifixion, which He bore
Satan claimed a victory, but he failed to
understand the nature of Jesus as Messiah, and he failed to reckon with
the power of God. God sent one angel to roll the stone away and to call
Jesus to come forth. The unnumbered millions of fallen angels could not
stop that one angel, nor could they hold Jesus in the grave.
After the resurrection, there was joy, power, and glorious praise, and
there were no more questions. The resurrection gave power to the gospel.
In Jesus’ resurrection, God promises that He will also resurrect His
people to live with Christ forevermore.Supernatural Events
During the Crucifixion
During Jesus’ life, He did many miracles
of healing, casting out demons, and even raising the dead-all in the
power of the Father. Supernatural events also occurred at the time of
Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, and resurrection. These were a powerful
witness of who He was. Had those who were against Him been open to the
truth, they could have turned from their evil path.
and questioned, Jesus answered, “I AM He.” As He said, “I AM”-the name
of God-there was a brilliant flash of light as an angel stood before
Jesus and the crowd fell backwards to the ground. The mob ignored this
sign of divinity, for they got up and began to bind Jesus. In a brief
scuffle, Peter cut off Malchus’ ear. Jesus immediately healed the ear
and let the mob bind Him without resistance and take Him to trial.
Pilate’s wife dreamed of Jesus’ innocence, advising Pilate, “Have
nothing to do with that just man.” At the time of the crucifixion, Jesus
cried out, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke
23:34). At noon, supernatural darkness, lasting three hours, hid the
countryside. When Jesus died, an unseen hand tore the veil of the Temple
from top to bottom, a visual representation that animal
no longer needed, as Jesus became the true sacrifice on the cross. An
earthquake tore the rocks and opened the graves of many sleeping saints,
who arose and came out of their graves after Jesus’ resurrection and
went into the city and appeared to many people” (Matt. 27:52, 53).
“Thy Father Calls Thee”
Jesus lay in the tomb for three days.
Pilate and the chief priests, still unbelieving, thought that they could
hold Him in the tomb. They ordered the tomb sealed and a guard placed to
watch over the tomb. They did not realize that the guards’ testimony
would serve as witness to the stupendous event of Jesus’ coming forth
alive from the tomb.
Was it not the purpose of God that the
disciples also be witnesses? Had not Jesus told them that He would rise
again? They should have taken comfort, but, instead, they were utterly
discouraged and were hiding from the authorities. What about us today?
Could God be giving us prophecies that would open our eyes and give us
courage? If He is, and we fail to listen, then we too could be taken by
Witness of the Roman Soldiers
Before anyone had reached the sepulcher, there was a
great earthquake. The mightiest angel from heaven, he who held the
position from which Satan fell, received his commission from the Father,
and clothed with the panoply of heaven, he parted the darkness from his
track. His face was like lightning, and his garments white as snow. As
soon as his feet touched the ground it quaked beneath his tread. The
Roman guards were keeping their weary watch when this wonderful scene
took place. God enabled them to endure the sight, for they had a message
to bear as witnesses of the resurrection of Christ. The angel approached
the grave, rolled the stone away as though it had been a pebble, and sat
upon it. The light of heaven encircled the tomb, and the glory of the
angels brightened the whole heaven. Then he spoke, “Thy Father calls
Thee; come forth.”1
If the soldiers at the sepulcher were so
filled with terror at the appearance of one angel clothed with heavenly
light and strength, that they fell
as dead men to the ground, how will
His enemies stand before the Son of God, when He comes in power and
great glory, accompanied by ten thousand times ten thousand and
thousands of thousands of angels from the courts of heaven?2
The chief priests and Pharisees
realized that they made a mistake in crucifying Jesus. They remembered
Jesus’ words, “after three days I will rise again” and the day following
“the preparation” they had gone to talk to Pilate (Matt. 27:62, 63). At
their insistence, Pilate posted a guard about the tomb and set a seal
upon the stone covering the entrance. Their nighttime watch began that
After the spectacular events that occurred in the early
morning hours of the first day of the week, the Roman soldiers abandoned
their post and entered the city. The chief priests and elders met the
soldiers. The events of the pre-dawn hours had terrified the soldiers,
and they were unable to deny who Jesus was. The chief priests and
elders, adding determined rebellion to their unbelief, bribed the
soldiers to lie about what they had seen. “Say ye, His disciples came by
night, and stole him away while we slept” (Matt. 28:13). Their
explanation made no sense. How could twelve disciples get past one
hundred soldiers to silently steal their Master’s body?
could not be hidden, and others soon learned that Jesus was alive.
Evidence for the truth of the resurrection can be seen in the
transformation in the perspective of the disciples and in the explosion
of growth in the early church. The death of Jesus terrified the
disciples, but the resurrection made them joyful and bold to tell the
“good news” of salvation. The resurrection served to make effective the
sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and
it energized the disciples in their
mission. For the chief priests and elders, it only deepened their hatred
of Christ and fixed them in rebellion. This shows that the closer people
come to God, they will either love Him more or they will hate Him more.
The disciples now better understood Jesus’ mission.Satan’s
When Jesus came to this earth, Satan tried
desperately to overcome Him. Did Satan assign this task to an “associate
demon?” No, he took charge of it himself. The crucifixion was Satan’s
last chance and his greatest failure.
• He failed to kill Jesus
as a baby.
• He failed to tempt Jesus in His youth to sin or to
turn from His God-appointed task.
• He failed to tempt Jesus in
the wilderness to doubt God or to take the easy way.
• During the
next three and one half years, he failed to make Jesus sin in any way.
• He failed to make Jesus turn away at Gethsemane, when everything
• He failed to overcome Jesus at the crucifixion by
insult, pain, or desertion.
• He failed to prevent the
What else could Satan do? He could no longer reach
Jesus personally. However, he could reach His “body,” the church, and he
has viciously assailed the church from that time forward. Satan has
tried to prove that grace was not sufficient to save! He began
immediately to tempt the new converts to the church (Heb. 6:6; The Great
Controversy, p. 489). It rests with Christ’s followers today to consent
to the work of grace that God may change their lives, proving that grace
is sufficient to save.
While Satan had failed, Jesus had gained a
glorious victory. What did Jesus accomplish by His death on the cross?
Other Theories of Resurrection
• He met the demands of the broken law of God.
demonstrated that God is a God of justice and mercy and unfathomable
• He wrested from Satan the lost dominion.
reconciles human beings to fellowship with God.
• He restores in
humanity the image of God.
• He gives human beings eternal life
(see John 3:15, 16).
are many articles on the Internet describing alternate theories for what
happened after Jesus died. The theory that the disciples stole the body
comes from the Gospel account itself (Matt. 28:12- 14). It is the most
common rationale for the resurrection story being false. The stolen body
theory provides a convenient excuse to those who do not want to believe,
but they are ignoring the facts.3
• Besides the Roman guards at
the site of the tomb, there was a giant stone covering the tomb, which
would have taken several people to move. The guards could not have
overlooked its being moved from its place.
• Were it not for the
Roman officials’ collaboration with the chief priests and elders-and a
substantial bribe-the soldiers’ false testimony, in perpetuating the lie
to cover the resurrection, would have brought them certain death for
abandoning their post of duty and allowing the body to be taken (Matt.
• Had the body been stolen by His followers, all that
would be needed to disprove the disciples’ claim would be to produce the
body. Yet, the body has never been produced.
• Historically, the
early followers of Jesus suffered persecution for their belief. National
leaders gave them the ultimatum to either renounce their belief in the
resurrection or die. It seems unlikely that, were the disciples to have
stolen the body that they would have been ready to die rather than
confess their misdeed.
It is true that people often die for
beliefs that are not true, but in such cases, they do not know that they
are untrue. How often do people die for what they know to be a
fabrication? (It would only make sense if they were spies or were dying
to cover family shame.) Whatever else can be said about the original
followers of Jesus, they certainly believed that Jesus rose from the
dead, and they could not have stolen the body.
In 1929, The
Saturday Evening Post interviewed Albert Einstein about a number of
subjects, one of which was whether he believed that Jesus was a real
person. He responded:
Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels
without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates
in every word. No myth is filled with such life.4
A Jew and
British author of the last century who knew about the life-changing
experience of the resurrection was Alfred Edersheim. He published his
scholarly book, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah,
in the 1880s.
It is still one of the most authoritative sources on the subject. In it
The importance of all this cannot be adequately
expressed in words. A dead Christ might
have been a Teacher and
Wonder-worker, and remembered and loved as such. But only a Risen and
Living Christ could be the Saviour, the Life, and the Life- Giver-and as
such preached to all men. And of this most blessed truth, we have the
fullest and most unquestionable evidence.5
Ellen G. White, Ms. 115, 1897, in Christ Triumphant (Hagerstown, MD:
Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1999), p. 283, and in Francis
D. Nichol, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary (Washington, D.C.:
Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1956), vol. 5, p. 1110.
Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, April 22, 1913, in Francis D.
Nichol, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary (Washington, D.C.: Review
and Herald Publishing Association, 1956), vol. 5, p. 1110.
David Mishkin, “Did He or Didn’t He? Jewish Views of the Resurrection of
Jesus,” Issues: A Messianic Jewish Perspective, vol. 11, no. 6, pp. 1-6,
Interview, Albert Einstein, “What Life Means to
Einstein: An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck,” The Saturday
Evening Post, October 26, 1929, p. 117, available at
einstein.pdf, accessed 2/28/13.5.
Alfred Edersheim, The Life and
Times of Jesus the Messiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing
Company, 1971), vol. 2, p. 629.