“He Is Risen”
New Testament Lesson 25 (Matt 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20–21)
THE EVE BEFORE THE SABBATH DAY
● After Jesus was crucified, his body was wrapped in clean linen cloths and placed in a tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, one of Jesus’ disciples and a member of the Sanhedrin who did not consent to His death (Matthew 27:57–60; Luke 23:50–53; Mark 15:45–46).
● He was assisted in this effort by Nicodemus, another member of the Sanhedrin who did not consent to His death, and also a follower of Jesus (John 19:39).
● All of this was done quickly because the preparation day for the Sabbath (Friday) was about to begin at 6:00 P.M.
● The morning after the Sabbath day (Sunday, April 6, AD 33), Mary Magdalene and other women returned to the tomb with sweet spices and ointments to more thoroughly anoint and embalm Jesus’ body (Matthew 28:1).
— The women are identified by Mark as Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James (Joses), and Salome (Mark 15:47; 16:1).
— The precise time of the resurrection is not known, but when Mary arrived at or near dawn on Sunday morning (6:00 A.M.) Jesus had already risen. The stone was rolled back from the entrance and the tomb was empty (Matthew 28:1–6).
— According the Luke (24:1–4) and also JST Matthew 28:2, there were two angels at the empty tomb.
— One of the angels spoke the words that still thrill us today: “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.” (Matthew 28:5–6; Luke 24:5–8).
● Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene and the other Women
— The other women ran quickly to tell the disciples that He had risen (Matthew 28:7–8; Luke 24:8–9).
— Mary Magdalene remained behind, weeping, and Jesus appeared unto her there (John 20:11–18; Mark 16:9–11). She was the first mortal person to see the resurrected Lord.
— Jesus appeared to the other women on their way to tell the disciples (Matthew 28:9–10).
— Neal A. Maxwell said:
“Does it not tell us much about the intrinsic intelligence of women to read of the crucifixion scene at Calvary, ‘And many women were there beholding afar off.’ (Matt. 27:55) Their presence was a prayer; their lingering was like a litany.
“And who came first to the empty tomb of the risen Christ? Two women. Who was the first mortal to see the resurrected Savior? Mary of Magdala. Special spiritual sensitivity keeps the women of God hoping long afer many others have ceased.”1
— Bruce R. McConkie said:
“How much there is incident to the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord which ennobles and exalts faithful women. They wept at the cross, sought to care for his wounded and lifeless body, and came to his tomb to weep and worship for their friend and Master. And so it is not strange that we find a woman, Mary of Magdala, chosen and singled out from all the disciples, even including the apostles, to be the first mortal to see and bow in the presence of a resurrected being. Mary, who had been healed of much and who loved much, saw the risen Christ! . . . Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene and then to other women.”2
Jesus Appears Unto Simon Peter
● The disciples did not believe these faithful women at first (Mark 16:9–14).
— Two of the disciples (Peter and John) went immediately to the tomb and found it empty (John 20:1–10).
— Sometime after this, the resurrected Lord appeared unto Peter, perhaps on his way back from the tomb (Luke 24:34).
Jesus Appears on the Road to Emmaus
● Two other disciples—Cleopas and his companion (Luke)—were sad as they walked along the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–24).
— The resurrected Lord joined them and taught them as they walked (Luke 24:25–27).
— These two disciples felt the Holy Ghost as they walked with Jesus (Luke 24:32).
— They returned to Jerusalem and heard the news of the resurrection. By this time, Christ has already appeared unto Peter (Luke 24:33–35).
The Resurrected Lord Appears to the Apostles without Thomas
● As the disciples were gathered together, they spoke of what they had heard and seen.
— “And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36).
— The Apostles thought they were seeing a spirit when Christ appeared to them (Luke 24:36–37).
— The Savior’s reassurance to them clearly describes the nature of a resurrected being—having “flesh and bone.” “Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” (vv. 38–40).
— Jesus next demonstrated his resurrected state by eating in front of them. They gave Him a piece of broiled fish and an honeycomb, and He ate it in front of them (vv. 41–43).
— Thomas was not there and did not believe the other Apostles’ testimonies that the Lord had been resurrected (John 20:24–25).
The Resurrected Lord Appears Again to the Apostles, This Time with Thomas
● Jesus later appeared again to all of the Apostles, including Thomas, who then believed (John 20:24–29).
— Gordon B. Hinckley said:
“Have you not heard others speak as Thomas spoke? ‘Give us,’ they say, ‘the empirical evidence. Prove before our very eyes, and our ears, and our hands, else we will not believe.’ This is the language of the time in which we live. Thomas the Doubter has become the example of men in all ages who refuse to accept other than that which they can physically prove and explain—as if they could prove love, or faith, or even such physical phenomena as electricity . . . To all within the sound of my voice who may have doubts, I repeat the words given Thomas as he felt the wounded hands of the Lord: ‘Be not faithless, but believing.’”3
WITNESSES OF THE RESURRECTED CHRIST
● There were thousands of early witnesses of the Resurrected Christ:
— Mary Magdalene was the first to see the resurrected Christ (John 20:11–18)
— Jesus appeared to the other women on their way to tell the disciples (Matt. 28:9–10)
— Peter went to the tomb and shortly thereafter saw the risen Lord. (Luke 24:10–12)
— Jesus appeared unto Luke and Cleopas on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13–32)
— He appeared unto the Apostles, without Thomas, that evening. (Luke 24:36–48)
— He appeared 8 days later to the Apostles, including Thomas. (John 20:24–29)
— The eleven disciples met him on a mountain in Galilee. (Matt. 28:16–18)
— And he appeared again on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. (John 21:1–19)
— He was seen by more than 500 disciples at once on one occasion. (1 Cor. 15:3–9)
— The Apostle Paul saw him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1–6)
— The Apostle John saw him in vision on the Isle of Patmos (Rev. 1:10–19)
— Many faithful Saints were resurrected shortly after Christ rose (Matt. 27:52–53)
from the tomb . . . and were seen by the disciples.
— Jesus appeared also to the Nephites (3 Nephi 11:14–15)
● Gordon B. Hinckley said:
“No force beneath the heavens could now hold back the power of the Son of God. It was as if His Almighty Father could stand no more. The earth trembled. The guards fled. The stone was moved. The Lord of heaven and earth arose from the bier, shook off the burial clothes, and stepped forth to become the first fruits of them that slept. The empty tomb bore testimony of this greatest of all miracles. With the appearance of the risen Lord first to Mary and then to many others, even to upwards of five hundred, came the undeniable testimony of His everlasting power over life and death.”4
EARLY ATTEMPTS TO DISCREDIT THE RESURRECTION
— There was no doubt that Jesus was dead on Friday (John 19:31–37).
— When Jesus predicted his resurrection; they pretended not to understand (John 2:18–22)..
— The Pharisees understood perfectly what Jesus said. They demanded that a guard be posted in front of the tomb (Matthew 27:57–66).
— The soldiers were terrified by the appearance of an angel (Matthew 28:2–4).
— Jewish religious leaders bribed the soldiers to keep silent about it (Matthew 28:11–15).
THE FORTY DAY MINISTRY
● The Resurrected Lord in Galilee
— The resurrected Lord showed himself again to seven of his Apostles as they were fishing. He repeated the miracle of the draft of fishes that he had performed when he first met them three years earlier (John 21:4–7).
— After they had eaten, Jesus asked Peter and the other Apostles to feed his sheep (John 21:15–17). Note again that Jesus, as a resurrected being, was able to eat and drink with them.
● Prophecies Concerning the Apostles
— Peter: Predicting his manner of death (John 21:18–19).
— John: Indicating that he would remain on the earth (John 21:20–23).
— Additional information from latter-day revelation about this conversation (D&C 7:1–8).
● Special Sacred Teachings During the 40-Day Ministry (see Doctrinal Insights below).
An Endowment of Power
— The Lord promised that the Apostles would receive the power necessary to bear witness. Endued means “endowed,” “clothed,” or “invested.” (Luke 24:48–49; Mark 16:17–18).
— This promised power was the receiving of the Holy Ghost. The outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was therefore a partial fulfillment of this promise (Acts 1:4–5).
Commissioning the Apostles
● A question about when the Savior would come again to rule over Israel (Acts 1:6–7).
● Note the worldwide nature of the work: “all nations,” “all the world,” “every creature,” “the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:19–20; Mark 16:15–16).
— Bruce R. McConkie said:
“The apostles of old were sent out to teach, testify, and baptize. They were to teach by the Spirit, testify of the truth, and baptize the repentant souls. They were witnesses. A witness testifies; he has a testimony to bear; he tells what he knows. The gospel is not carried to the world by the teaching process only. Any minister or professor of religion can teach; whether his conclusions are true or false, he can present them and make them seem appealing to some. But only one who knows by personal revelation that certain things are true can testify with converting power.
“These apostles were to teach the truths of salvation and then testify that by personal revelation they knew whereof they spoke. They were both teachers and witnesses. For instance, they were to teach that the scriptures said Christ should come and die for the sins of the world; but then they were to bear witness that this man Jesus was the Christ, that he had risen from the dead and that they, his witnesses, had felt the nail marks in his hands and feet, had handled his resurrected body, had walked with him on the Emmaus road, had seen him eat fish and an honeycomb, and that they knew by the power of the Holy Ghost that he was the Son of God. They were witnesses.”5
Jesus Ascends into Heaven
● When the forty-day ministry came to a close. Jesus led his Apostles from Jerusalem over the Mount of Olives to Bethany, where his ascension to heaven took place (Luke 24:50–51; Mark 16:19).
● Acts 1:9–11 While they watched, he was taken up into heaven.
— Two men in white “stood nearby.”
— Jesus will come again just as he was taken up:
■ In a cloud of glory
■ To the Mount of Olives
● 3 Nephi 11–28 Following his farewell to his disciples in the Eastern Hemisphere the resurrected Lord began His short ministry among his people in the Western Hemisphere.
● Sunday Became the New Sabbath Day
— Bruce R. McConkie said:
“Because Jesus came forth from the grave on the first day of the week, to commemorate that day and to keep in remembrance the glorious reality of the resurrection, the ancient apostles, as guided by the Spirit, changed the Sabbath to Sunday. That this change had divine approval we know from latter-day revelation . . . (D&C 59:9–17)”6
— Mark E. Peterson said:
“With this . . . in mind, let us ask ourselves how important the Lord’s atonement is to us. How dear to us is the Lord Jesus Christ? How deeply are we concerned about immortality? Is the resurrection of vital interest to us? We can readily see that observance of the Sabbath is an indication of the depth of our conversion. Our observance or non-observance of the Sabbath is an unerring measure of our attitude toward the Lord personally and toward His suffering in Gethsemane, His death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead. It is a sign of whether we are Christians in very deed, or whether our conversion is so shallow that commemoration of His atoning sacrifice means little or nothing to us.”7
● Sacred Private Teachings During the 40-Day Ministry of Our Lord.
— John states his reason for writing down some of the things that the resurrected Jesus said and did—to testify of and bring souls to Christ (John 20:30–31).
— Nevertheless, our study of Christ has been only partial at best (John 21:25).
— This largely-private, 40–day ministry was a period of preparation for the Apostles. He opened their minds so they could “understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:44–46).
● Jesus was seen by the disciples for 40 days after his resurrection (Acts 1:2–3).
— Passion From the Latin passus, “to suffer”—the Lord’s atonement.
— Infallible proofs From the Greek “sure signs or tokens”—refers to the appearances of the resurrected Christ, and the special wounds identifying him.
— Forty days Christ’s post-resurrection ministry among his apostles.
— Things pertaining Special sacred teachings not given to the disciples during
to the kingdom the Savior’s mortal ministry.
● What things?
— The nature of resurrected beings (Luke 24:36–43)
— The meaning of scriptures not understood earlier (Luke 24:44–47)
— Their role as personal witnesses of the Savior (Luke 24:48)
— Their responsibilities as leaders of the Church (John 21:1–17)
— His visit to the spirits in prison (1 Peter 3:19, 4:6)
— The principle of baptism for the dead (1 Corinthians 15:29)
● Missionaries being endowed with power.
— Bruce R. McConkie said:
“From latter-day revelation we learn that the Lord had something more in mind in issuing this instruction . . . In this dispensation, after the elders had received the gift of the Holy Ghost and as early as January, 1831, the Lord began to reveal unto them that he had an endowment in store for the faithful (D&C 38:22; 43:16) . . . In June, 1833, he said: ‘I gave unto you a commandment that you should build a house, in the which house I design to endow those whom I have chosen with power from on high . . . even as mine apostles at Jerusalem.’ (D&C 95:8–9; 105:11–12,18,33). Thus the apostles—or any ministers or missionaries in any age—are not fully qualified to go forth, preach the gospel, and build up the kingdom, unless they have the gift of the Holy Ghost and also are endowed with power from on high, meaning have received certain knowledge, powers, and special blessings, normally given only in the Lord’s Temple.”8
● The same charge—to take the gospel to all the world—has been given to us today (D&C 1:2, 4).
— Spencer W. Kimball said:
“It seems to me that the Lord chose his words when he said `every nation,’ `every land,’ `uttermost bounds of the earth,’ `every tongue,’ `every people,’ `every soul,’ `all the world,’ ‘many lands.’ Surely there is significance in these words! . . .
“My brethren, I wonder if we are doing all we can. Are we complacent in our approach to teaching all the world? We have been proselyting now 144 years. Are we prepared to lengthen our stride? To enlarge our vision? Remember, our ally is our God. He is our commander. He made the plans. He gave the commandment . . .
“And as I read the scripture I think of the numerous nations that are still untouched. I know they have curtains, like iron curtains and bamboo curtains. I know how difficult it is because we have made some efforts. Surely the Lord knew what he was doing when he commanded . . . Somehow, brethren, I feel that when we have done all in our power that the Lord will find a way to open doors. That is my faith . . . If he commands, certainly he can fulfill.
“I believe the Lord can do anything he sets his mind to do. But I can see no good reason why the Lord would open doors that we are not prepared to enter. Why should he break down the Iron Curtain or the Bamboo Curtain or any other curtain if we are still unprepared to enter? I believe we have men who could help the apostles to open these doors—statesmen, able and trustworthy—but, when we are ready for them. Today we have 18,600 missionaries. We can send more. Many more! . . .”9
— The Prophet Joseph Smith said:
“No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly and independent, till it has penetrated every continent; visited every clime, swept every country and sounded in every ear; till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”10
1. General conference Address, April 1978; Ensign, May 1978, 10.
2. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:843, 846.
3. Conference Report, Apr. 1978, 90; Ensign, May 1978, 59.
4. Conference Address, Ensign, April 1988, 67.
5. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:855.
6. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:841.
7. Ensign, May 1975, 49.
8. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:859.
9. “When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 3–14.
10. History of the Church, 4:540.