Translations: 简体中文 繁體中文

The Synoptics on 
The Resurrection

"On the third day he will rise again." Luke 18:33


The Witness of the Guards
  • Observation
  • Testimony
  • Reaction
The Witness of the Women
  • Observation
  • Testimony
  • Reaction
The Witness on the Road to Emmaus
  • Observation
  • Testimony
The Witness by the Eleven
  • Observation

  • Reaction

The Witness of the Guards


Matt 28:
1  Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.  
2  Behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from the sky, and came and rolled away the stone from the door, and sat on it.  
3  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.  
4  For fear of him, the guards shook, and became like dead men. 


11  Now while they were going, behold, some of the guards came into the city, 
and told the chief priests all the things that had happened.


12  When they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel,
they gave a large amount of silver to the soldiers,  
13  saying, "Say that his disciples came by night, 
and stole him away while we slept.  
14  If this comes to the governorís ears,
we will persuade him and make you free of worry."  
15  So they took the money and did as they were told. 
This saying was spread abroad among the Jews, and continues until this day.  


I'm reminded also of another event that occurred on the morning of another third day.
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Ex 19:16
The guards were paid off to tell a lie. But the story has a huge hole in it. For they were told to say that the disciples stole the body while they were asleep. But if they were asleep, then how did they know that the disciples stole the body? But as unbelievers will accept anything in place of believing, this irrational tale was widely accepted among them. It is furthermore unlikely that they fell asleep, given that the penalty under Roman law was that such soldiers would be burned alive in their own clothes, and thus they had to give them further assurances that they would keep them from such a fate if the governor got wind of their story.

In contrast to this, the account of the resurrection is amazing and miraculous, but it is not irrational. Given the fact that we have such a testimony from the guards means that either they violated their contract, or one of the religious leaders passed it on. Perhaps even Joseph of Arimathea got wind of it as he was a religious leader.

The Witness of the Women


Luke 24:
1  But on the first day of the week, at early dawn,
they and some others came to the tomb, 
bringing the spices which they had prepared.  
2  They found the stone rolled away from the tomb.  
3  They entered in, and didnít find the Lord Jesusí body.  
4  It happened, while they were greatly perplexed about this, 
behold, two men stood by them in dazzling clothing.  
5  Becoming terrified, they bowed their faces down to the earth.
They said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead?  
6  He isnít here, but is risen. 
Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee,  
7  saying that the Son of Man must be delivered up into the hands of sinful men,
and be crucified, and the third day rise again?"  
8  They remembered his words, 


9  returned from the tomb, and told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest.  
10  Now they were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James.
The other women with them told these things to the apostles. 


11  These words seemed to them to be nonsense, and they didnít believe them.  
12  But Peter got up and ran to the tomb. Stooping and looking in, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he departed to his home, wondering what had happened.  


Because of their lack of faith they did all that work for nothing. Jesus didn't need the spices. Though our intentions are good, yet if we don't combine them with faith we may find that  our works are in vain. Concerning the women preparing spices and going to the tomb on behalf of a supposedly dead Jesus reminds me of how some Christians go to church, treating them like tombs. They try to spice it up, but are often carnal in their approach to church life. Jesus is not in the tomb. He is not in the building. He is not in the institution. He is not in dead religion. Rather He is alive in the hearts of the individual believers wherever they may be. The world cannot destroy the Church. They can't even correctly identify where it is. (Can you?)  For they end up guarding an empty tomb. Jesus cannot be found among the dead. His presence is with the living.

The theme here is to REMEMBER HIS WORDS. Faith in Christ is not simply faith in who he is and what he has done, but faith in what he has said. Jesus had spoken plainly and directly of what was to occur, yet it seemed to take his followers by surprise. One wonders if any of them deserves to be reckoned "believers".

It is interesting to note that in giving their testimony to the Eleven, they would have mentioned about "remembering his words". They would have reminded them of what Jesus said. And yet it was nonsense to the Eleven. Not only didn't they believe the testimony of the women, but they disbelieved Jesus own words on the matter, even after having been reminded. Some think that only Thomas was the doubter, but rather doubt characterized all of them at this point. But at least Peter had the gumption to check out the story. 

One good thing to be said about this is that these people were not likely to be easily decieved into believing a false report as some speculate. This was not a trivial thing. Their lives were on the line. Wishful thinking wouldn't do them any good. They demanded solid evidence. Realize that all through Jesus' ministry they had not been walking by faith as Christians today do. For they had the physical presence of Jesus and overwhelming evidence of miracles constantly being done. Walking by faith in God's Word alone was something new to them. "We walk by faith, not by sight."2Cor 5:7

The Witness on the Road to Emmaus


13  Behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, 
which was sixty stadia from Jerusalem.  
14  They talked with each other about all of these things which had happened.  
15  It happened, while they talked and questioned together, 
that Jesus himself came near, and went with them.  
16  But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.  
17  He said to them, "What are you talking about as you walk, and are sad?"  
18  One of them, named Cleopas, answered him,
"Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who doesnít know 
the things which have happened there in these days?"  
19  He said to them, "What things?" 
They said to him, "The things concerning Jesus, the Nazarene, 
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people;  
20  and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.  
21  But we were hoping that it was he who would redeem Israel. 
Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.  
22  Also, certain women of our company amazed us,
having arrived early at the tomb;  
23  and when they didnít find his body,
they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, 
who said that he was alive.  
24  Some of us went to the tomb, and found it just like the women had said,
but they didnít see him."  

25  He said to them, "Foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  
26  Didnít the Christ have to suffer these things and to enter into his glory?"  
27  Beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, 
he explained to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.  
28  They drew near to the village, where they were going, 
and he acted like he would go further.  
29  They urged him, saying, "Stay with us,
for it is almost evening, and the day is almost over." He went in to stay with them.  
30  It happened, that when he had sat down at the table with them, he took the bread and gave thanks. Breaking it, he gave to them.  
31  Their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, 
and he vanished out of their sight.  
32  They said one to another, "Werenít our hearts burning within us,
while he spoke to us along the way, and while he opened the Scriptures to us?"  


33  They rose up that very hour, returned to Jerusalem, 
and found the eleven gathered together, and those who were with them,  
34  saying, "The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!"  
35  They related the things that happened along the way, 
and how he was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.  


"How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!"

These were not ignorant of what the prophets had spoken. They were just slow of heart to believe. The Bible does advocate a degree of skepticism as it is written: "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."Acts 17:11 But having sufficient evidence, we should not be slow of heart to believe. Jesus has a way of effecting people's hearts. "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us." So if you find you are slow of heart, spend time with Jesus and his people. Christians are the body of Christ. (They'll tend to give you heart burn one way or another)

Such prophecies as He speaks of can be found in Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, and for example: Hosea 6:2 "After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence."

Though Jesus makes himself available to us, he waits for us to invite him in. Here he acted as if he were going further, but really he wanted them to take initiative to ask him in. Have you taken initiative in asking Christ into your life?

The Witness of the Eleven

36  As they said these things, Jesus himself stood among them, 
and said to them, "Peace be to you."  
37  But they were terrified and filled with fear,
and supposed that they had seen a spirit.  
38  He said to them, "Why are you troubled? 
Why do doubts arise in your hearts?  
39  See my hands and my feet, that it is truly me. 
Touch me and see, for a spirit doesnít have flesh and bones, 
as you see that I have."  
40  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.  
41  While they still didnít believe for joy, and wondered, 
he said to them, "Do you have anything here to eat?"  
42  They gave him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.  
43  He took them, and ate in front of them.  



We see that the idea of ghosts was accepted among the apostles. When Jesus says, "a ghost does not have flesh and bones", he is either affirming the existence of ghosts or their false idea of ghosts. Jesus customarily says things which are true to life, since truth is a part of His being. As such it seems he is indeed implying that ghosts do in fact exist. Else if this were heresy he certainly would have corrected his disciples on the issue. In fact a similar thing occurred during Jesus' ministry when he walked on the water.
Mt 14:26  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear
The context of the usage of the word "ghost" here in the resurrection account is with respect to a person being dead and yet walking around the earth in some kind of ethereal form. It is commonly believed that when people die that they go directly either to hell or to paradise, as the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man of Luke 16 indicates. However perhaps the situation is similar to that of the demons. Where are demons presently? Are they in hell or walking around the earth? Much of Jesus' ministry of casting out demons affirms that they are indeed on the earth. But also there are demons in hell. One is reminded of the demon of Luke 8 who begged not to be cast into the Abyss to be tormented. And so the situation may be similar to a degree in the case of humans where perhaps some remain here for a while before passing on..But enough speculation on the matter.

The Bible teaches against interacting with the dead (contrary to Catholicism):

"Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD"  Deut 18:10-12
These would include those who make special prophecies supposedly through dead people like the virgin Mary or some of the saints, or prays to such people as some Catholics practice in ignorance of what the Bible teaches. So though ghosts may exist, it is not appropriate for Christians to seek to interact with them.
Le 19:31  "'Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God."

Touch Me

Jesus had died and raised. He was not a ghost. He was corporeal as opposed to ethereal. Today some make no distinction between Jesus and the Holy Spirit, equating the two. But when the Bible equates the two only in a metaphoric sense. Jesus is tangible. You can touch him. While the Holy Spirit is just that - a Spirit. Having ascended to heaven, we await Jesus' return. He is here presently by proxy through the Holy Spirit, but not physically. Jesus rose never to die again. As such, this is characteristically different from those resurrections previously in which people had to die again. The new body is indestructible. Paul elaborates on this point in 1Corinthians 15. For this is the kind of resurrection the believers will also experience. 


The Order of Events

Robinson (Gospel History, pp. 447, 448):
"At early dawn on the first day of the week, the women who had attended on Jesus, viz. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, Salome, and others went out with spices to the sepulchre, in order further to embalm the Lord's body. They inquired among themselves who should remove the stone. On their arrival they find the stone already taken away; for there had been an earthquake, and an angel had descended and rolled away the stone, and sat upon it, so that the keepers became as dead men for terror. The Lord had risen. The women knowing nothing of all this, are amazed; they enter the tomb, and find not the body of the Lord, and are greatly perplexed. At this time, Mary Magdalene impressed with the idea that the body had been stolen away, leaves the sepulchre and the other women, and runs to the city to tell Peter and John. (Peter and John appear to have lodged that night in a place separate from the other apostles - the apostles having "scattered" as the prophecy in Isaiah had foretold). The rest of the women remain in the tomb, and immediately two angels appear, who announce unto them that Jesus was risen from the dead, and give them a charge in his name for the apostles. They go out quickly from the sepulchre, and proceed in haste to the city to make this known to the disciples. On the way, Jesus meets them, permits them to embrace his feet, and renews the same charge to the disciples; but their words seem to them as idle tales; and they believe them not. Meanwhile, Peter and John had run to the sepulchre; and entering in had found it empty; but the orderly arrangement of the grave-clothes and of the napkin convinced john that the body had not been removed by violence or by friends; and the germ of a belief arises in his mind that the Lord had risen. The two returned to the city. Mary Magdalene, who had again followed them to the sepulchre, remained standing and weeping before it; sees Jesus, who gives to her also a solemn charge for his disciples."

And furthermore Luke condenses alot of events together saying for example, "When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.  It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles." Luke 24:9,10 And while this is true it is really two events for Mary was not with the others all the time and had a separate testimony which nonetheless confirmed their report, having seen the Lord. Thus also Peter visited the tomb a number of times. First when Mary told him and John that the tomb was empty and then again after being told the Lord had risen. Furthermore there is an additional account not recorded directly of Peter seeing the risen Lord before the other apostles which is alluded to in Luke 24:34 and in 1Cor 15:5 The gospels record bits and pieces of these accounts.

using NIV & WEB
The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jan 29,2022