Jesus no longer needed the grave clothes that believers wrapped about him for his burial. He folded them neatly and left them on the stone slab where he once lay. There has been much discussion about the Shroud of Turin. It has the image of a crucified man. There have been various tests run on that cloth and no one can say for certain how that image was imposed on it. I believe that the explosion of life into Jesus’ body that made its impression on the cloth.
Keep in mind that Jesus did not need the stone rolled away because his resurrected body had the ability to go through material things and even transport to other locations. The stone was rolled away so that the disciples could look inside and not find Jesus. That stone was a testimony to the disciples. Another interesting point to me is that resurrection morning there were no Roman guards anywhere. Probably when the stone moved and angels were present, it was a shock to them causing them to run away. Later they reported to the authorities who gave them money to propagate a lie in opposition to the resurrection facts.
When women came to pay their respects to Jesus tomb, they were the first ones to find it empty. One of those women was Mary Magdalene, not to be confused with the mother of Jesus. Quite naturally she was in grief over the death of Jesus and then also for the disappearance of his body. She found a man nearby in the garden and thought he was the one who tended it. She begged him to tell her anything he knew about the location of the body. Initially, she did not realize it was Christ until he called her name. So, Mary was the first person to see the resurrected Jesus.
After she found the disciples and told him of her experience, Peter and John raced to the tomb and found it empty. The state of confusion and probable anger overwhelmed them. How could anybody steal this body knowing its importance? To the enemies of Christ, it was the end. But it was just the beginning!
Later Jesus appeared to two disciples (not those who were the official disciples of Jesus) walking on the road to Emmaus. They did not realize that it was the resurrected Jesus until he said a prayer over the meal. He then taught these disciples the meaning of prophetic Scripture and how it related to him. They went back to the group and again they did not believe what they said just like they did not believe Mary.
Afterwards Jesus appeared to the group of eleven disciples who were eating a meal. The Bible says he, “upbraided them because of their unbelief and hardness of their heart.” On another occasion the disciples went to Galilee as Jesus instructed them before his crucifixion. They saw him, they worshiped him, but still not all of them believed.
That same day at evening the disciples gathered with the doors shut for fear of the Jews. Jesus stood among them and said, “peace be unto you.” Then he showed them the wounds in his hands and side inflicted on him when he was crucified. This resulted in the first commission Jesus gave the disciples empowerment to deal with the sin of others in his name.
Next is my favorite event of the disciples. Thomas was not present when Jesus appeared to the other disciples. Later they told him that Jesus was alive. Likely, he thought they were mad. Eight days later the disciples were together again with the door shut and Jesus said the same thing to the group. Jesus was aware of the statement Thomas made saying he would not believe Jesus was resurrected until he personally could see the same wounds and examine them. This is where we get the cliché for calling someone a doubting Thomas. It was an unfair label. All Thomas asked was to have the same experience the other disciples had. He did not refuse to believe the possibility. He did, however, want to see for himself the resurrected Christ so that he could be convinced.
When Jesus appeared again, he confronted Thomas and specifically asked him to verify his wounds. Jesus also told him to turn from faithlessness to believing. It was then that Thomas answered, “my Lord and my God.” John 20:29 is a record of Jesus confirming that Thomas saw and believed. Then Jesus reached down through the centuries to you and me and said, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
We have not seen and touched his wounds. We have not seen him hanging on the cross. Nor have we seen the empty tomb with her own eyes. It is with the telescope of faith that we do believe Jesus is our God.
Jesus walked the face of this earth for 40 days after his resurrection. The Scripture says that in the presence of his disciples he did many other signs. At that time, besides the disciples, there were at least 120 other believers that followed Christ.
Later Peter and, several other disciples, decided to go fishing. They caught nothing. The next morning Jesus stood on the edge of the waters, but they did not recognize him. Jesus called out and asked if they caught any fish and they said they had not. He told them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat and they caught an abundance of fish. Disciple John recognize that it was Jesus and told Peter who jumped in the waters toward Jesus. He was already frying fish to share with them.
During their meal, Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. Twice he asked that question and, according to the Greek text, Peter said that he loved Jesus as a brother. That was not the question nor the answer that Jesus intended. He asked if he had agape love or divine love. Since Peter could not rise to that level, Jesus downsized the love and told Peter to feed, “my sheep.” In that same conversation Jesus predicted how Peter would die. Tradition says that when that time came Peter asked to be crucified upside down on the cross because he was unworthy to be upright.
Throughout those 40 days Jesus continued to teach his disciples specifically about the kingdom of God. Jesus told them they should wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them. After further discussion, Jesus ascended to heaven in a cloud. Two angels stood nearby and said that in the same way Jesus went up he would also return.
So, you see, after Jesus was resurrected, he was terribly busy with his concerns. He wanted to make sure his resurrection had indisputable confirmation. He also wanted to further enlighten the disciples about Scripture and then give them instructions for what they should do after he left them.
We are in the same situation as those disciples. They could no longer see Jesus physically and we cannot either. It is through faith that we trust him for salvation and receive the commission to tell others about him so that they too can become part of the family of God.