“After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby. Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.’ Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes. But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.’ Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, ‘Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’’ Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her. Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’ Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
It was on Friday in today’s term that our Lord was crucified to death. Friday is the day when the Jewish people prepare for the Sabbath. The Sabbath Day is set from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, and on this day the Jews were not supposed to do anything. So if Jesus’ dead body was not taken care of right away, it would have been left alone on the Cross.
So Joseph of Arimathea, who believed in Jesus as his Savior, asked Pilate to hand over His remains so that he may bury Him. He did this even though all the other disciples of Jesus and His followers had fled. Joseph was thus given Pilate’s permission, and he took down Jesus’ body from the Cross and washed the remains clean. Nicodemus, who had appeared in the Gospel of John chapter three, also came and brought about a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes mixed together, and Joseph and Nicodemus washed and shrouded the body of Jesus clean. They then interned Jesus’ remains in a small tomb in the garden next to Golgotha.
It was a Jewish burial custom to dig a dry cave and make a tomb out of it by interning the dead body in it. In general, it was common for the Jews to have family burial sites, and so most caves had the remains of other deceased ones, but the body of Jesus was buried in a new tomb that was never used before, so that God’s Word would be fulfilled.
Joseph and Nicodemus laid the body of Jesus in the tomb, wrapped in linen to go through the natural process of degradation and leave only bones. They buried Jesus before the sunset of that Friday, that is, before the Sabbath day, and then sealed the entrance to the tomb with a boulder to prevent any animals or anyone else from entering it.
Jesus Rose from the Dead
On the first day after the Sabbath, when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early in the morning, she saw that the stone blocking the entrance had been removed. Mary then ran to Simon Peter and another disciple, and said to them, “Someone has taken away the Lord, and I don’t know where He has been laid.” So Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb, and they saw that the boulder was indeed removed. As the boulder was very large, it was not something that just a couple of men could move, and yet it had been moved. The other disciple looked into the tomb with Peter, but he didn’t go in probably because he was too afraid. So Peter went into the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around Jesus’ head folded together in another place. The Jewish people wrapped the whole remains with linen cloths from the toe to the head, but the linen that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head was folded together in a different place by itself, apart from the linen cloths that had been wrapped around His body.
Even though the Old Testament said that death would not be able to swallow Jesus, and Jesus Himself also said repeatedly that He would be resurrected, His disciples did not keep in mind that He would rise from the dead again. So the disciples thought that someone had stolen Jesus’ remains. But at the same time, they also wondered why, if the body of Jesus was indeed stolen, the handkerchief that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head was folded down neatly.
Mary Magdalene is the woman who, after being derided as a prostitute, met with Jesus and came to receive the remission of sins. She is also the woman who had broken and poured an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard on Jesus’ head. Hearing that Jesus’ body had disappeared, Mary wept at the tomb. And as she looked into the tomb, she saw two angels in white garments sitting at where Jesus had been laid, one at the head and the other at the feet. The angels then asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Mary said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” She then turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
The disciples had left the tomb by then without seeing Jesus. When Mary saw Jesus, she thought that He was the gardener, and so she asked Him if He had removed the body. But to her surprise, Mary heard Jesus calling her name. She then finally recognized that the voice and the face were indeed those of Jesus. Mary was shocked, and Jesus told her not to touch His body, as He had not yet ascended to the Father. This happened at the very first day of Jesus’ resurrection.
Afterwards, the disciples of Jesus also saw the Lord, and they testified that they had seen the resurrected Lord. When Jesus appeared for the second time, His disciples were trembling in fear. They were all gripped by fear, thinking that since the Jews had crucified their Teacher to death, they would also be arrested and crucified to death. Jesus then appeared before them through the wall. As Jesus now had been resurrected into a spiritual body, He could walk through the wall.
Saying to the disciples, “Peace be with you,” Jesus showed His hands and His side. The disciples were rejoiced to see the Lord. Jesus then said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And He breathed on them, saying to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Although the disciples of Jesus had believed in Him, because they believed based only on what was visible, their faith was not a perfect one but mixed with doubts. But our Lord appeared before them after His resurrection, told them to receive the Holy Spirit, and then said to them, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Like this, Jesus rose from the dead again. We believe that it was for our salvation that Jesus bore all our sins by being baptized, died on the Cross, and rose from the dead again. The body of Jesus was crucified and His death was complete. When a solider pierced His side to confirm His death, water and blood had poured out. Given how the Roman Soldiers made sure that Jesus was dead, it is not plausible for the Lord to have just woken up from fainting. Even if He had fainted, since His body was completely wrapped around in linen, He could not have risen up. The very way in which the Jews buried the dead proves that the Lord had indeed died and was resurrected.
Today is the Lord’s Day. In the old days, the Sabbath was the day of worship, but now it is the Lord’s Day. The day on which Jesus rose from the dead is this very Sunday morning. We call Sunday the Lord’s Day precisely because this is the day when the Lord was resurrected. It is on the Lord’s Day that He rose from the dead again.
When Jesus was alive, He had said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). In this passage, the “temple” here refers to the body of Jesus, and this passage clearly implies that He would be resurrected in three days. Jesus was the true God who had the power to raise the dead and heal the sick. His Word was true, and there was nothing false to His Word. Because the work of life and power were found in the Word of Jesus, the Pharisees and the chief priests were worried that what Jesus said might come true. So when Jesus was put to death and buried, they asked Pilate to put some Roman soldiers at Jesus’ tomb to guard over it. They were afraid that if someone stole the body of Jesus and claimed that He had risen from the dead, it would create an even greater commotion, and so they put armed Roman soldiers to guard the tomb of Jesus. In other words, they made sure that no one would go into Jesus’ tomb.
However, an angel descended from Heaven and sat on the boulder blocking Jesus’ tomb. When the soldiers guarding the tomb saw the angel, they were so shocked that they fell on the ground and were completely paralyzed in fear. The angel rolled the stone, removed the linen wrapped around the body of Jesus and His head, and folded it neatly. The Lord then rose up. He had been resurrected.
The Resurrection of the Lord Is His Victory and Our Resurrection
The Lord had to rise from the dead again for no other reason than to bring us back to life. To save all sinners, God Himself had come to us in the image of man. He had accepted all the sins of mankind by being baptized, borne all the condemnation of every sin and died on the Cross in our place, and risen from the dead again to guarantee us our resurrection. God had resurrected His Son. God had made Jesus live on this earth for 33 years in the image of man, bear all the suffering of man, shoulder all the sins of the world, and die in our place. That is how God has saved us. And our Lord then rose from the dead again. The resurrection of the Lord means that He has saved you and me to perfection. Just as the Lord rose from the dead again, so will we the saved saints also rise from the dead again after our physical death. It is to testify to this that the Lord was resurrected.
Our Lord has not only saved us from sin, but He has also delivered us from physical death. Jesus Christ, who has saved you and me, bore all our sins, was condemned to death in our place, and rose from the dead again. It’s to give us new life by replacing our death with His own life that Jesus died and rose again. We have come to live again thanks to His sacrificial love. Our Lord did this work, which only God can do. It is physically impossible for anyone to die once and live again. This is something that only God can do: Only God could take upon all our sins, be condemned to death in our place, and rise from the dead again. God did this because He is the Lord of life. That’s why only God can give us life and resurrect us from death.
The Lord described the passing of our saints as sleeping. Jesus had many beloved saints and disciples. Among the most cherished saints were Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. But when Jesus was told that Lazarus had fallen seriously ill and was nearing death, He did not go to him. Only when Lazarus was completely dead, stopped breathing, and began to smell and rot, did our Lord say, “My friend is asleep. Let’s go to wake him up.” Someone who is asleep can wake up again. Our Lord did not see the dead as dead, but only as sleeping, because every dead saint will be resurrected when the Lord comes again to this earth.
We Will Live Again
My fellow believers, when we run out of bodily strength, stop breathing on this earth, and fall asleep, this does not mean that we are dead forever. We will live again. Just as Jesus Christ was resurrected, so will we also be resurrected into a new and spiritual body. We will live again in a body that is neither corruptible nor limited, a body that can enjoy all pleasures of life but none of its displeasures, and an immortal body that lives forever. All the born-again will live again.
All those who have not been born again will also be resurrected on the last day. When sinners rise from their graves, they will be resurrected into immortal sinners once again. Sinners cannot be resurrected with the righteous. The Bible speaks of the order of resurrection: “But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:23-24). Jesus is the only One who has already been resurrected. And we the born-again will be resurrected when the Lord Himself descends from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God (1 Thessalonians 4:16). In short, the saints will be resurrected just before the Millennial Kingdom. But the sinners will be resurrected to be punished forever when the Millennial Kingdom is over (Revelation 20:7-15). The Bible says that while God will give eternal life to the righteous who participate in the first resurrection, rewarding them with heavenly blessings, He will make the sinners who participate in the second resurrection suffer by throwing them into the everlasting fire of hell.
Our Lord has saved us. He bore all our sins on this earth, was condemned for them, and died on the Cross in our place. And rising from the dead again, He bore witness for 40 days, and He ascended to Heaven before the eyes of many. Our Lord will return to this earth again. With the archangels and the sound of their trumpets, He will descend on this earth again. First Thessalonians chapter four tells us that when Jesus returns, the righteous sleeping in the graves will be resurrected first, the born-again saints still alive will be changed suddenly, and then rapture will happen. Rapture will take place when our Lord lifts up His born-again children. As the last event to unfold at the very end of the world, rapture means that at the moment the Lord returns, this world will end and a new millennium will begin.
Those who are not familiar with rapture think that only the living saints will be lifted up while the dead saints in the graves will be left behind. But this is a completely mistaken belief. Whether rapture has taken place or not is something that you should confirm at the grave. You should to go the tomb of a righteous saint and see if his grave is opened or not. If the tomb is closed tight, then any claim of rapture is just a lie. The redeemed who are asleep in the graves are the first to be resurrected and lifted up, and the living are lifted after that. It’s at this time we will see the end of the existing world and the beginning of a new world.
It Is the Righteous Who Will Partake in the New World of the Millennial Kingdom
When our Lord returns, if some of us have fallen asleep, we will be resurrected first. Those who have been born again through the gospel of the water and the Spirit will also be lifted up at that time in a spiritual body. Like Jesus, the righteous will be able to enjoy all the pleasures of life on this earth and also do supernatural things like passing through the wall. They will receive a body that is unconstrained by the limits of the natural laws, that is, a perfect and flawless body that is in the likeness of God. The body of the righteous will no longer be bodies made of dust, but they will be spiritual bodies like God.
In this light, it is a tremendous blessing that we have received the remission of sins. Those who have received the remission of sins will be resurrected to live again and enter Heaven, where there will be neither pain nor destruction. Those who have not received the remission of sins will also be resurrected, but it is not a good resurrection, for they will be brought back to life only to be judged. So we must realize just how great it is that we have received the remission of sins. It’s because we have received the remission of sins that resurrection awaits us to enter Heaven and we can receive new life. None other than the remission of sins is the very beginning of heavenly blessings. It is by receiving the remission of sins that we are made God’s children and His righteous people to live again and enjoy splendor and glory forever. It is on account of this remission of sins that all blessings are bestowed.
Therefore, while living on this earth, we must all realize that what is on this earth is not everything there is; and we must remember that we are just travelers staying in this world only for a short while. A traveler stays in a place only for a while regardless of whether it is a good place or not, and he eventually leaves it behind to once again journey to his destination. Those who have received the remission of sins are basically such travelers on their way to Heaven.
The resurrection of eternal life is preserved for only those who have received the remission of sins, and only they can attain Heaven. And only these redeemed people have the power and authority to blot out other people’s sins. It is when those who have received the remission of sins speak of the gospel of the water and the Spirit that others can also receive the remission of sins. Our Lord said to the disciples, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:23).
As the real saints, you and I have the amazing authority and tremendous blessings that the Lord has given us. We must believe that those who sleep after receiving the remission of sins will rise up in the resurrection of eternal life, while all the sinners will rise up in the resurrection of judgment. The resurrection of judgment means that sinners will also be raised from the dead, and as such, it means that life in this world is not everything there is. If there is anyone sitting here who still has not received the remission of sins, then no matter how this person may have prospered and lived a virtuous life on this earth, when our Lord returns, he will be resurrected into an accursed body to suffer forever in the never-ending fire of hell. Because such people have not received the remission of sins, for this one reason alone they will have to suffer and be subjected to all curses and hatred. However, if they receive the remission of sins, then on account of this alone, they will receive all blessings, all love, and all grace.
Is there anyone here who takes the resurrection of Jesus too lightly? Perhaps there are some people who are not that thankful for their salvation, who think only carnally to calculate over what they have gained and lost from receiving the remission of sins, and who, if there isn’t much that has improved in carnal terms, think that it makes little difference whether they have received the remission of sins or not. However, it is completely wrong to think this way. The very fact that you have received the remission of sins is such a blessed and wonderful gift. It’s because you have received the remission of sins that you can partake in the good resurrection and attain everlasting life. If anyone has not received the remission of sins, on the other hand, he will surely partake in the accursed resurrection to be judged. Everyone who is not remitted from his sins will be brought back to life in pain only to be judged.
Let Us Not Be Faithless People
There was a man named Thomas among Jesus’ disciples. Of all the disciples of Jesus, Thomas was the most faithless one. It is a wonder how he became a disciple of Jesus, but still, he is a thousand times better man than Judas who betrayed Jesus. Thomas will be resurrected to live with the Lord forever in glory. Judas will also be resurrected later on, but he will be resurrected only to be cast into the never-ending fire of hell.
At the very evening of the day of His resurrection, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” And He showed them His wounded hands, saying to them, “I have risen again for you.” Since He had been crucified with large nails, there must have been clearly visible wounds in His hands even if they were healed. Jesus showed not only His hands, but He also showed the wounds at His side and His feet. Saying to the disciples, “I have risen again. And I’ve come to you. Didn’t I tell you that I would live again? Do not fear, for I have risen again,” Jesus comforted the disciples and strengthened them.
Let us read John 20:24-29 together. “Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”
How faithless must Thomas have been that Jesus would offer His hands and side for him to put his finger into His wounds? Thomas was so ashamed. So he believed, saying, “I believe. You are My Lord and My God.” Those who have a lot of doubts like Thomas can believe only in this way. However, you must believe just from the Word of God that there indeed is resurrection waiting for you, and that Jesus indeed is the Christ.
It’s written in verses 30-31, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” This passage admonishes us to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the Christ. The word Christ means that Jesus is our God, the High Priest who took upon all our sins, our Savior who was condemned to atone for them, and the Prophet who teaches us everything. It’s to tell us this that the Word of God was written.
Let Us Have the Faith of Resurrection
Today, on this Easter Day, we are commemorating the resurrection of Jesus. You and I, the redeemed people, must believe that we will also be resurrected. Regardless of how you may pass away, when your time comes, you will only fall asleep. We must have the belief that you and I will live again through the Lord. We must have the unwavering faith that you and I, as those born again of water and the Spirit, will sleep only for a while and then wake up from this sleep to live forever. We believe with all our hearts that we will indeed be resurrected, and it is by this faith that we can spread the way of everlasting life and resurrection.
We have been blessed so tremendously. We have received so many blessings that it would take all day long to list them all and it would still not be enough. All that we have received is the remission of sins alone, but on account of this, we will also be resurrected. So what a great blessing is this? Even though we have received just the remission of sins, we have not only become saints, but we will also be resurrected to put on a spiritual body. It is indeed a marvelous blessing that we will put on a spiritual body like God, live with Him, share fellowship with Him, be resurrected into a body that can feel everything God feels, and see Him face to face.
Some of us may have thought that all that we’ve received is just the remission of sins, but now we’ve come to know that such wonderful blessings are waiting for us. When you first received the remission of sins, you probably didn’t know that such great blessings would wait you. But I believe that your ailing body will be resurrected into a body that will never fall ill again. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and God fulfills His every promise without fail. I admonish you to believe that God will indeed bless us His believers. I admonish you all to be a believer, not a faithless person. So let us all live the rest of our lives by placing our faith in God.
Our Lord will return to this earth soon. If we fall asleep before the Lord’s return, He will wake us up when He is here. While we are thus resurrected to live in the Millennial Kingdom, those who have not received the remission of sins will be excluded from this Kingdom. Only after we enjoy all God’s blessings for a thousand years will these sinners finally be resurrected to be judged. Even though we may suffer on this earth for the sake of the Lord, He will reward us for all such sufferings for a thousand years. After we are thus rewarded for a thousand years, the everlasting Kingdom of Heaven will descend on us while the judgment of hell will be rendered on sinners. That’s why the Lord will resurrect the sinners a thousand years after we are resurrected. When we enter the everlasting Kingdom of Heaven, the sinners will pound on their chests and wail on their way to hell.
I believe that just as the Lord rose from the dead again, we will also be resurrected. I give all my thanks to God for giving us new and everlasting life.