Predictions are not always made by good people. Sinners too, at crucial times, have pearls in their mouths. Caiaphas, being the high priest, did predict that one person had to die for the nation and Jesus did (John 11:49-50). That year, Jesus died and returned His Spirit to His Father in heaven (Luke 23:46). The rich man in hell begged Abraham to send someone from the dead to warn his brothers (Luke 16:27-28). Jesus did fulfill the rich man’s prayer by returning from the dead as He had promised (Mark 8:31).
Jesus’ Return From The Dead Was A Deliberate And Necessary Act Of The Son Of God
Jesus, before anyone laid a hand on Him, or betrayed Him, or crucified Him, He publicly declared:
“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from my Father” (John 10:17-18; NIV).
Moses required two to three witnesses to verify the event as “truth.” We have more than three account of Jesus’ return from the dead. The Synoptics agree and count as one, the Gospel of John as the second witness, and the apostle as the third verifier.
And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Solome, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him (Jesus). And very early on the first of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb? And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back; for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid (Mark 16:1-8).
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and he went into the tomb; he saw the linen clothes lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes (John 20:1-10).
For I have delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me (I Corinthians 15:3-8).
What Do These Witnesses Tell Us?
To begin with, the witnesses were not the people, who were expected to be present when the main events took place in the life of Jesus. The apostles were scattered. Peter, with the help of a young man, was able to see some of the trials of Jesus at the high priest’s place and not beyond. At the cross is a disciple, not an apostle, whom Jesus loved, and who resided in Jerusalem. This disciple had the means to provide for Jesus’ mother and for all the apostles. According to Mark, at the grave of Jesus, a young man, who became an angel for some interpreters, greeted the women as the first witnesses, only the women fled and did not report to the apostles. According to John, while it still was dark, Mary Magdalene came alone to the grave and she met no one. She saw the open grave and ran to tell Peter. Peter and his friend, the other disciple whom Jesus loved, ran to the tomb, went inside and the other disciple was first to believe that Jesus was alive. (The use of the “other disciple” suggests that Jesus loved two men—the first was the apostle John Zebedee from Capernaum in Galilee). And Peter called the other disciple, “my son Mark” (I Peter 5:13).
Next, Jesus reveals Himself to Mary Magdalene. And Jesus told her that He could not be touched because He had not yet been back with His Father in heaven (John 20:11-18). Before the Risen Jesus revealed Himself to the apostles, He appeared to the two Emmaus’ disciples (Luke 24:13-35). It took the Risen Christ forty days to convince the apostles that He was alive (Acts 1:3). To Saul, who became the apostle Paul, the Risen Christ appeared as a blinding light and a commanding voice (Acts 9:3-9). Before Jesus died, He promised that He would leave his followers briefly and then come back shortly:
I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you (John 14:18-19).
“A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me.” Some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” They said, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he means.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him; so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy (John 16:16-20).
According to the witnesses, the body of Jesus the Christ, the Son of God and the Son of man, was dead for three days and three nights. Death was confirmed by spearing Jesus’ side and His blood was turned to water, and Jesus’ bones no longer had to be broken (John 19:31-37). Joseph of Arimathea obtained permission from Pilate, and with the assistance of Nicodemus, they wrapped Jesus’ body and placed it in Arimatheas’ tomb (John 19:38-42). While Jesus’ body rested, Jesus’ Spirit did not return to the Father, as He had indicated to Mary Magdalene (John 20:17), but Jesus’ Spirit went to the place of the dead and there He proclaimed salvation to their spirits. The Holy Spirit passed this information to Peter:
For Christ also died for sin once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit; in which He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him (I Peter 3:18-22).
The Rebirth And Renewal Of Jesus’ Body
On the third day, Jesus’ Spirit resumed His residence in His dead body and it became alive; however, Jesus’ body was in a transparent form. Jesus became visible to all who believed, but not to the worldly. No physical or carnal abstraction could keep the Lord from appearing to those whom He loved, and for those who loved Him. In addition to what Paul knew of Peter, James the half-brother to Jesus, Paul himself, and over five hundred more, Jesus also appeared to Mary Magdalene, two Emmaus disciples, the ten apostles, and a special appearance to Thomas. Jesus broke bread with the Emmaus’ disciples, and ate with the ten apostles (Luke 24:30-31, 41). Jesus had an outing with his apostles at the Sea of Tiberias in Galilee where they fished, ate together, and this is where they received further instructions (John 21). Forty days Jesus spent with his apostles in His translucent body. And Jesus explained His mission to them, and urged them to wait for the Holy Spirit to infuse them with a powerful energy never known to man before.
Then Jesus said to the apostles, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then He opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed (armored) with power from on high” (Luke 24:44-49)
In that same visible body, the apostles watched their Lord rise into the sky and vanish from their sight. Two witnesses dressed in white, appeared out of nowhere, and told the apostles that they would aso see Jesus return just as the way He was leaving them (Acts 1:1-11). Unfortunately, their prediction did not fit into God’s timing because God will not close grace until the last soul is counted (II Peter 3:8-13; Revelation 6:9-11). Meanwhile, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit in the world through whom the “Message of Redemption” is being spread. Let us heed the warning of Paul:
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are (I Corinthians 6:16-17).