The Rest of the Story

A violent earthquake shook the earth, and an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled away the stone that covered the burial place of Jesus.  The appearance of the angel frightened the Roman soldiers that were guarding the tomb, so much so,  that they shook and became like dead men.  It was early on the first day of the week and still dark when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came and found the stone rolled away from Jesus’ tomb. Mary Magdalene noticed that the stone had been rolled away and ran to warn the disciples and tell Peter.  Mary Magdalene was afraid the body of Jesus had been taken.  The other women arrived just after sunrise with spices they had prepared.  On the way they wondered who would roll the stone away.  They found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. While they were wondering about this, suddenly they saw two men in bright clothes.  They gleamed like lightening.  They were terrified and bowed down with their faces to the ground.  The men told them not to be afraid.  An angel spoke to them. He said, “Do not be afraid.  You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene who was crucified.  Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen!  Remember how He told you while He was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’  Go quickly and tell His disciples and Peter.  “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see Him, just as He told you.”  Then they remembered His words.

The women were frightened beyond words after this angelic encounter.  They were afraid, yet filled with joy, and ran to tell His disciples.   Mary Magdalene had found Peter and John and they were both running to the tomb.  John reached the tomb first.  He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there.  No one would have taken the time to unwrap Jesus body if they were taking it.  John took all this in and believed.  Peter also saw the empty tomb and the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head lying there folded.  Puzzled but convinced that something unusual had happened Peter and John returned to their lodgings.

Mary Magdalene returned to the empty tomb, probably with tear-filled eyes wondering what had happened to the One who had freed her from seven demons.  She stood outside the tomb for a while, but when she looked inside she saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.  They asked her why she was crying.  Mary said, “They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put Him.”  All of a sudden she felt someone approach her from behind.  With tear-filled eyes she turned around, Jesus was standing there.  Mary did not realize it was Him.  He spoke, “Woman why are you crying?  Who is it you are looking for?”  Mary thought this must be the gardener and that he would know where Jesus was.  She spoke, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.”  Jesus only spoke her name, “Mary.”  She knew it was her Lord and cried out to Him, “Rabboni.”  Mary wrapped her arms around Him and did not want to let Him go.  Jesus told Mary not to hold on to Him, but to go and tell “my brothers.”  By now the other women were returning to the empty tomb.  They were filled with joy because they had heard the announcement of the angels.  Then the resurrected Jesus appeared to them.  They also clasped His feet and worshiped Him.  He told them to go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, where He would appear to them.

Mary Magdalene ran to the disciples to tell them she had seen Jesus and what He had told her.  The other women also told the disciples but they did not believe them.  News of the disappearance of Jesus had reached the chief priests.  They gave the soldiers a large sum of money to say that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus.  This was a widely circulated story.

Two of Jesus’ disciples were on their way to Emmaus when Jesus appeared to them.  He kept them from recognizing Him.   One of them was named Cleopas.  Cleopas and his companion talked about the events of Jesus’ death and spoke about the empty tomb.  Jesus walked with them and explained what was said in Scripture about Himself.  As they were arriving at the village they stopped to eat.  While Jesus was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.  He disappeared from their sight.  Cleopas and his friend returned to Jerusalem and reported to the Eleven and the others what had happened.

Later that first day, Jesus appeared to the disciples.  While they were talking He stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”  They were startled and frightened.  They thought they had seen ghost.  Jesus showed them His hands and His feet.  He allowed them to touch His body, and to show that He was not a ghost He ate with them.  They were overjoyed that they had seen Jesus.  Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (This event would take place at Pentecost.)  Thomas was the only disciple who was not there. He doubted the appearance of Jesus to the disciples.  Unless he could touch the marks in his hands and put his fingers where the nails had been, and put his hand into His side he would not believe.

A week later his Jesus’ disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them.  Through locked doors Jesus appeared in the room.  He specifically went to Thomas and answered his request.  “Put your finger here; see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it into my side.  Stop doubting and believe.”  Thomas believed and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw Him, they worshipped him, but some still doubted.  Jesus continued to teach them, explaining all that was in Scripture about Him.  He opened their minds so they could understand.  Jesus spent forty days with His followers training and teaching them.

Back in Jerusalem Jesus continued to teach.  They would be his witnesses to the world.  They were to go out and make disciples of all nations and preach the good news.  Believers would be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Then they would teach others to be obedient to the His teachings.  Jesus promised that He would be with them to the very end of the age.  He led them out to Bethany and lifted up His hands to bless them.  While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven.  They worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.  They went to the temple and continuously praised God.  They waited in the city until the power of the Holy Spirit was given to them.  Then they went out as Jesus commanded..

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