According to Jewish time reckoning, Jesus was in the tomb for three days (part of Friday, all day on Saturday, and a part of Sunday). Sunday would have begun at sundown on Saturday, according to the way the Jews counted days. Jesus' resurrection is the solidification of Christianity; without it, most of Christianity would be relegated to religious history, and open for debate.
According to biblical dating, EASTER SUNDAY occurred on April, 9th, which is the same as the 17th of Nisan on the Jewish calendar. It was a Day of Victory. Matthew 28:2-4 suggests that it began when the angel rolled away the stone from the entrance to the tomb. This was not a boulder; it was a round slab of stone about a foot thick that would roll along a groove. The women visited the tomb around sunrise on Sunday (Mark 16:2-8; Matthew 28:5-8; Luke 24:1-8).
There were five appearances of Jesus on Easter Sunday: 1. To Mary Magdalene (Mark 1i6:9-11; John 20:11-18). 2. To the other women (Matthew 28:9-10). 3. To two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-32). 4. To Peter (Luke 24:33-035; 1 Corinthians 15:5). 5. To 10 apostles with Thomas absent (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25).
Jesus then appeared six other times following His resurrection: 1. To the disciples with Thomas present (John 20:26-31; 1 Corinthians 15:5). Remember that Thomas doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead. Eating and touching were proofs that a person was real and not a ghost. 2. To seven disciples beside the Sea of Galilee (John 21). 3. To 500 brethren (Mark 16:15-18; Matthew 28:16-20; 1 Corinthians 15:6). 4. To James, the Lord's brother (1 Corinthians 15:7). James later became the Christian leader in Jerusalem. 5. To disciples (Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:3-8). 6. His ascension (Mark 16:19-20; Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:9-12).
In reading through these scriptures, it is important to note how the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) tend to agree on almost everything. Scholars generally believe that Mark was written first around 62 A.D. when he and Peter were in Rome together, then Matthew and Luke were written shortly thereafter; and that Mark really reflects the thoughts of Peter more than Mark himself. John was written a long time afterward, usually considered to be around 95 A.D. by conservative scholars. Thus, if a person considers that Jesus died in 30 A.D., it is erroneous to assume that these books were written immediately afterward. They were written decades later when it became apparent that Jesus was not going to return immediately and a written record was needed to retain what was known about him.
There also are other aspects of Jesus' resurrection that provide supporting evidence. For instance, Matthew was a tax collector, someone who was very good at keeping track of events and dates. Luke was a physician and obviously knew whether a person was alive or dead. He also is the author of the books of Luke and Acts, and many scholars believe they were one book when first written. Other disciples also had their areas of expertise. Interestingly, the first book to chronicle these events is 1 Corinthians, which was written by the Apostle Paul around 56 A.D. Luke recorded in Acts 9:1-9 that Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, and that he became the first great Christian missionary.
Along with these biblical stories, history records that the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome in 70 A.D. and that James, Jesus' brother, was martyred in 62 A.D. Paul was in prison at that time in Rome.
Thus, you not only have eleven documented appearances of Jesus following His resurrection (twelve, if you count Paul's encounter on the road to Damascus) but other examples of people throughout the ages who have encountered Jesus (mostly documented by the Catholic Church). Because of this, people of the Christian Faith gather all over the world on Easter morning to sing the Hallelujah Chorus -- Hallelujah! He has risen just as He said He would.
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Robert Box is the former chaplain for the Bella Vista Police Department and is currently the Fire Department chaplain. Opinions expressed are those of the author.