The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most significant events in Christian history. According to the gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion.
The resurrection has been a topic of much debate and discussion over the years, with skeptics and believers alike weighing in on its historical accuracy and theological significance. In this article, we will explore what the gospels say about Jesus’ resurrection.
The Resurrection Accounts in the Gospels
All four gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – contain accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. While there are some differences in the details of these accounts, they all agree on certain key points. According to the gospels:
- Jesus was crucified and buried in a tomb
- On the third day after his death, women came to his tomb and found it empty
- An angel appeared to them and told them that Jesus had risen from the dead
- Jesus later appeared to his disciples and others, proving that he had indeed risen from the dead
The Empty Tomb
The fact that Jesus’ tomb was found empty is a central piece of evidence for his resurrection. All four gospels mention this detail, although they differ somewhat in their descriptions of who discovered the empty tomb and when. For example:
- In Matthew’s gospel, two women named Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” come to Jesus’ tomb on Sunday morning after his crucifixion.
- In Mark’s gospel, three women named Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome come to the tomb early on Sunday morning.
- In Luke’s gospel, a group of women including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James come to the tomb “very early in the morning” on Sunday.
- In John’s gospel, only Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb, and she does so while it is still dark.
Despite these differences, all four gospels agree that Jesus’ tomb was found empty. This detail is significant because it suggests that something extraordinary happened – either Jesus rose from the dead as the gospels claim, or someone stole his body.
The Resurrection Appearances
Another key piece of evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is the fact that he appeared to his disciples and others after his death. Again, there are some differences in the details of these appearances across the gospels. For example:
- In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus appears first to Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” near the tomb, then later to his disciples on a mountain in Galilee.
- In Mark’s gospel, Jesus appears first to Mary Magdalene, then later to two disciples while they are walking in the country.
- In Luke’s gospel, Jesus appears first to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, then later to his disciples in Jerusalem.
- In John’s gospel, Jesus appears first to Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb, then later to his disciples in a locked room.
Despite these differences in detail, all four gospels agree that Jesus appeared to his followers after his death. These appearances were significant because they provided proof that he had indeed risen from the dead.
Historical and Theological Significance
The resurrection of Jesus Christ has both historical and theological significance. Historically speaking, it is one of the best-attested events of ancient history. The fact that Jesus’ tomb was found empty and that his followers claimed to have seen him alive after his death is difficult to explain on any other grounds than that he did in fact rise from the dead.
Theologically speaking, the resurrection is central to Christian belief. It demonstrates that Jesus was who he claimed to be – the Son of God – and that he had power over death itself. It also provides hope for Christians, who believe that they too will one day be resurrected and share in eternal life with Christ.
In conclusion, the gospels provide a compelling case for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They report an empty tomb, multiple appearances by Jesus to his followers, and a subsequent belief among those followers that he had indeed risen from the dead.
While there are some differences in detail across the gospels, these core elements remain consistent. Whether or not one accepts this testimony as historical fact is a matter of personal belief, but there can be no denying its significance both historically and theologically for millions of Christians around the world today.