Jesus resurrected from the dead?
3) the summary gospel account
Inasmuch as many
have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among
us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants
of the word have handed them down to us, it seemed fitting for me as well,
having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write
it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that
you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.
Luke 1:1-4 NASB
What was observed?
THE SUMMARY GOSPEL ACCOUNT
account of Jesus' resurrection appears in detail in each of the four gospels
(Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). To read any one of these four provides
a good picture of the events surrounding his return from death. But each
account varies with the details it includes. Those details aren't contradictory,
which is to say they don't give conflicting facts about what happened; they
are instead complimentary. Like corroborating witnesses testifying in court,
each provides additional names, conversations, or actions that only some
or none of the others mention. They are all legitimate parts of the whole
order to know what the first generation church accepted as reliable testimony
of the resurrection - the people who lived in the right place at the right
time to know what really happened - it is necessary to look closely at the
writings they accepted. What follows is a general overview only
of Jesus' arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection as taken from the
book of Matthew starting from chapter twenty-six and continuing to the end.
Where noted, specific details from the other New Testament writings are
referenced in so as to provide a more complete report of this important
event in the order in which it happened. (Read all the referenced books
if you want additional details.)
-- THE LAST SUPPER
dining with his disciples, Jesus revealed that one of them, Judas Iscariot,
was about to betray him. At that time, the other disciples did not understand
what Jesus meant by this, nor by his expeditious words to Judas who immediately
left (John 13:26-30). Jesus then told his disciples, as he had told them
before, how he was going to be separated from them, how they would be scattered,
how they would see him no more, but then would see him again, and that the
Father would send the Holy Spirit to teach and remind them of all that he
had said to them (John 13:31-16:33).
-- ARREST AT GETHSEMANE
that evening, at the foot of the Mount of Olives in the Garden of Gethsemane,
Jesus gathered with his disciples as he often did. To this location Judas
led a large detachment of armed soldiers, their commander, and officials
from the chief priests and Pharisees. They came to arrest Jesus (John 18:2-3).
Jesus presented himself to them for arrest. Peter, still misunderstanding
of Jesus' intent, attacked the high priest's servant Malchus (John 18:4-11).
The disciples deserted Jesus and fled. Peter and John then returned to follow
from behind as the arrest party led Jesus away (John 18:15).
-- THE MIDNIGHT TRIAL
was first brought before Annas, who was the father-in-law of the high priest
Caiaphas (John 18:13), in the high priest's courtyard. Then Caiaphas questioned
Jesus before the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law. Many accusations
were made against Jesus, but the stories of the witnesses did not agree.
Finally the high priest demanded by the highest of Jewish oaths that Jesus
answer if he was "the Christ, the Son of God." To this, Jesus identified
himself as God had to Moses; "I am" (Mark 14:62). The men guarding Jesus
proceeded to strike him with their fists; spitting in his face, slapping,
mocking, and beating him (Luke 22:63-65).
-- PETER'S DENIAL
the course of Jesus' interrogation and beating, Peter twice denied having
any knowledge of Jesus or allegiance to him. Then a relative of the man
whom Peter had earlier attacked challenged him by asking: "Didn't I see
you with him in the olive grove?" (John 18:26). As Peter issued his third
denial, immediately a rooster crowed and "The Lord turned and looked straight
at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: 'Before
the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.'" Peter then "went
outside and wept bitterly" (Luke 22:61-62).
-- FATE OF JUDAS
still early in the morning, the chief priests and elders came to the decision
that Jesus must die. Judas Iscariot, full of remorse and seeing that Jesus
was condemned to death, threw the thirty silver coins which he had been
paid into the temple. Judas cited that he had betrayed innocent blood. In
response, the chief priests told him, "That's your responsibility" and denied
their own role in the affair. Judas then went out and hanged himself over
a field in which his body likely fell and burst open (Acts 1:18).
money which he had cast into the temple was picked up and eventually used
to purchase that field where Judas had died. It would be designated as a
burial area for foreigners.
-- TRIALS CONTINUE
was meanwhile led to the palace of Pilate, the Roman governor. Jesus was
presented to him with more false accusations. The Jews insisted that Pilate
try him because, officially, the death penalty had been removed from the
Jews' power to grant. Pilate questioned Jesus and found nothing against
him. But, learning he was from Galilee, had him sent to Herod, the Galilean
governor who was also in Jerusalem at that time (Luke 23:5-11). Jesus was
ridiculed and mocked by Herod and his soldiers though he, too, found no
charge against him (Luke 23:15). Jesus was then returned to Pilate.
-- THE SENTENCE
that time, it was a custom of the Feast of Passover for the governor to
release a prisoner as selected by the crowd. As urged on by the chief priests
and elders, the crowd's shouts to release the insurrectionist Barabbas prevailed
(Luke 23:19). Pilate verified the crowd's desire by asking, "What shall
I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" (Matthew 27:22). The prevailing
response was, "Crucify him!"
was flogged, and then taken into the Praetorium by the governor's soldiers.
They stripped him, set a crown of thorns on his head, mocked him, spit on
him and struck him in the face and "on the head again and again".
he was finally brought out to be crucified, Pilate once more questioned
Jesus in an attempt to free him (John 19:12). But the Jewish chief priests
reaffirmed Jesus' death sentence as the proper defense of the Roman Caesar's
authority (John 19:12-15). Pilate finally gave Jesus over to the soldiers
who would carry out the crucifixion.
-- THE CRUCIFIXION
the city towards Golgotha, Jesus was made to carry his cross (John 19:17)
until Simon from Cyrene was seized to carry it behind him (Mark 15:21).
Jesus was crucified along with two robbers, and a sign was placed above
his head identifying him as the king of the Jews. The soldiers divided up
his clothes by casting lots (John 19:23,24). The chief priests, the teachers
of the laws, the elders, the soldiers who crucified him, the robbers, and
some others who passed by all mocked him and hurled insults at him. At one
point, one of the two robbers acknowledged Jesus' divine kingship.
about the sixth hour to the ninth hour, darkness fell over the land. The
soldiers offered Jesus a sponge soaked with wine vinegar. Upon receiving
it, he cried out at about the ninth hour, "It is finished" (John 19:30)
and then died.
-- PRONOUNCED DEAD
that moment, there was a great earthquake. The centurion and others who
stood below Jesus frightfully declared that he surely must have been righteous.
The curtain of the temple was torn in two from the top down. Tombs broke
open and, after Jesus' resurrection, many would see people whom had previously
evening approached, the Jews asked Pilate to hasten the deaths of the crucifixion
victims so that the bodies would not have to be left on the crosses during
a special Sabbath. The soldiers then broke the legs of the two robbers.
They did not break Jesus' legs, however, because they saw he was already
dead. They confirmed this by piercing his side with a spear (deeply enough
to release both blood and pleural fluids) (John 19:31-37).
-- THE BURIAL
of Arimathea, a prominent Jewish council member, requested possession of
Jesus' body from Pilate. Pilate first reconfirmed Jesus' death, then granted
his permission (Mark 15:43-45). Joseph and Nicodemus took the body, wrapped
it in linen with at least seventy-five pounds of spices (John 19:39), placed
it in Joseph's own new tomb, rolled a big stone in front of the entrance,
and then went away. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joses
watched all of this.
-- THE EMPTY TOMB
the chief priests and Pharisees secured permission from Pilate for a guard
of Roman soldiers to be posted. The stone was sealed at the tomb in order
to prevent the disciples from stealing the body. When the special Sabbath
was over, the women bought their spices to anoint Jesus' body (Mark 16:1)
but rested on the next day, the regular Sabbath (Luke 23:56). In the dark
morning hours of the following day, the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene,
Mary the mother of James, Joanna (Luke 24:10), Salome and others (Mark 16:1)
all headed out for the tomb.
was a great earthquake at the tomb as an angel appeared and rolled back
the stone from where Jesus lay. The guards were terrified and "became like
dead men". Some of the guards went to the chief priests to report what had
happened. The chief priests consulted with the elders and eventually gave
the soldiers a large sum of money to report that Jesus' disciples had stolen
the body while they were all asleep. The priests assured the guards that
if the governor learned of the report, they would keep the guards out of
-- THE RESURRECTION
women arrived at the tomb to find the stone rolled away and the guards absent.
They entered the tomb and saw that Jesus' body was gone. Mary Magdalene
ran to tell Peter and John (John 20:2). At the tomb there appeared two angels.
One reminded the women of Christ's own words that prophesied his resurrection.
Excited but frightened, the women left to go tell the disciples as Mary
upon hearing Mary Magdalene's preliminary report, Peter and John ran to
the tomb with Mary following (John 20:3-10). By the time Peter and John
arrived, they went in to find only the burial cloth and linen strips lying
there. Peter and John left to return home, but Mary remained outside the
tomb crying. When she peered into the tomb, the two angels appeared. She
turned around to find Christ standing behind her. He instructed her not
to hold onto him, but to go back to the disciples (John 20:11-18). Jesus
similarly appeared to the other women. The other disciples, however, did
not believe any of the women as their words "seemed like nonsense" (Luke
-- JESUS APPEARS TO THE DISCIPLES
disciples, Cleopas and Simon, set out for Emmaus later that day discussing
all that had transpired. Jesus came up and walked with them, though they
were prevented from recognizing him at first. He spoke with them explaining
what was written in the scriptures about the Christ. When he broke bread
and gave it to them, they recognized him and he disappeared from their sight.
They immediately returned to the other disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24:13-25).
evening when the disciples, not including Thomas, were together behind locked
doors (for fear of local authorities), Jesus suddenly appeared among them.
He greeted them saying, "Peace be with you" (John 20:19-24). Though they
were frightened, Jesus encouraged his disciples to touch him and to look
at his hands and his feet. Jesus even ate in front of them.
week later, when Thomas was with the disciples, Jesus reappeared before
them all and showed himself to Thomas so that he too believed (John 20:25-29).
Jesus showed himself a third time before seven of his disciples at the Sea
of Galilee (John 21:1-25).
-- JESUS COMMISSIONS THE CHURCH
the course of forty days, Jesus appeared to the disciples (Acts 1:3), gave
many proofs he was alive, spoke about the kingdom of God, and commissioned
them to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name
of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey
everything I have commanded you". The largest grouping he appeared before
was numbered at five hundred (1 Corinthians 15:6).
the Mount of Olives, Jesus was taken up into the sky until a cloud hid him
from sight. Afterwards, two angels appeared. They informed the disciples
that in the same manner in which Jesus left, he would one day return.
NEXT: Was Jesus resurrected
from the dead? - part four
What do we know about Jesus from
Do miracles really happen?