The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of Christianity. It’s the event that sets Christianity apart from any other religion.
But who were the first witnesses to this historic event? Let’s take a closer look.
The Empty Tomb
The first indication that something extraordinary had happened was the discovery of an empty tomb. The four Gospels all record that on the Sunday morning following Jesus’ crucifixion, a group of women went to His tomb to anoint His body with spices. However, when they arrived at the tomb, they found that the stone had been rolled away, and the tomb was empty.
According to John’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene was the first person to see Jesus after His resurrection. She went to the tomb early on Sunday morning and found it empty.
She ran to tell Peter and John, who then came and saw for themselves. After they left, Mary stayed behind weeping. It was then that Jesus appeared to her.
The Other Women
The other women who went with Mary Magdalene to anoint Jesus’ body also saw Him after His resurrection. According to Matthew’s Gospel, as they were leaving the tomb, Jesus appeared to them and told them not to be afraid but to go and tell His disciples that He had risen from the dead.
Peter was one of Jesus’ closest disciples, but he had denied knowing Him three times on the night of His arrest. After hearing from Mary Magdalene and seeing for himself that Jesus’ body was not in the tomb, Peter must have been filled with a mix of emotions – disbelief, confusion, regret – but also hope. Later that day, according to Luke’s Gospel, Jesus appeared privately to Peter.
The Disciples on the Road to Emmaus
Two of Jesus’ disciples were walking to Emmaus that same day, discussing all that had happened. Jesus joined them on the road but they did not recognize Him.
He explained to them from the Scriptures that the Messiah had to suffer and then be raised from the dead. When they arrived at their destination, Jesus revealed Himself to them.
The Disciples in the Upper Room
That evening, the disciples were gathered together in a locked room, afraid that they would be arrested next. Suddenly, Jesus appeared among them and said, “Peace be with you.” They were overjoyed to see Him and realized that He had indeed risen from the dead.
These were the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection – Mary Magdalene, the other women, Peter, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and the disciples in the Upper Room. Their testimonies are recorded in Scripture and have been passed down through generations of Christians. The resurrection of Jesus is not just an event that happened long ago – it’s a reality that continues to change lives today.