From darkness of death to the light of Resurrection Sunday

Class Outline:

Title: From darkness of death to the light of Resurrection Sunday.


A careful study of the scriptures will reveal the following order of events unfolded in the resurrection appearances of Christ.


All of the following can be found in Matt 28; Mark 16:1-8; [the rest of that chapter is not in the original]; Luke 24; John 20.


Other references outside of these chapters will be given.


1.The guards see the angel roll away the stone from the tomb.


The guards are terrified as this could mean their lives for not preventing the removal of the body. There is a seal around the stone made of a thick rope and dense wax, which if broken means that the soldiers have failed.


2. Shortly after, Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Cleophas, Salome and others arrive at the tomb with prepared spices.


3. Told by the angel that He was risen, Mary M runs ahead to tell the disciples, with the other women following more slowly.


4. Mary M returns preceded by Peter and John, and saw the empty tomb.


Mary was still in panic mode and only had the angel’s word to go on, so she returns to witness the empty tomb again.


5. Christ appears to Mary Magdalene as she lingers after Peter and John had left, first mistaking Him to be the gardener.


John 20:11 But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb;


John 20:12 and she beheld two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying.


John 20:13 And 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."


John 20:14 When she had said this, she turned around, and beheld Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.


John 20:15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away."


John 20:16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means, Teacher).


John 20:17 Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'" 


John 20:18 Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and that He had said these things to her.


6. Mary Magdalene returns to the disciples to report the appearance of Christ to her.


7. Christ appears to the other women who were returning to the tomb.


8. The guards tell the chief priests about the angel rolling away the stone and they are bribed to lie, that the disciples stole the body.


9. Christ appears to Peter on the afternoon of the resurrection day. No details are given of this meeting, Luke 24:34; 1Cor 15:5.


10. Christ appears to disciples that are walking on the road to Emmaus, withholding His identity He was able to teach them from the OT about His death and resurrection.


When they sat to eat and Jesus broke bread they recognized Him and then He vanished.


11. Christ appears to 10 disciples (His fifth appearance), as Thomas was absent.


12. Christ appears to the 11 a week after His resurrection.


13. Christ appears to seven disciples as they were fishing on the Sea of Galilee, which is His second alone time with Peter, John 21:1-23.


14. Christ appears to 500, 1CO 15:6.


15. Christ appears to James, His half brother, 1Cor 15:7.


16. Christ appears to 11 disciples on the mountain in Galilee, commissioning them to preach the gospel in Jerusalem first.


17. His 11th appearance, where He ascends from the Mount of Olives to the right hand of God, Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:3-9.


There are 6 more appearances after the Church begins at Pentecost, but that is not what concerns us this morning.


With this to refer to, I want to set the stage, beginning with the night before His death in the Garden of Gethsemane.


I want to first set a stage for you, in your mind’s eye. My goal is to put you in certain places on the night before the crucifixion, the day of the crucifixion, and the day of the resurrection as well as the few days after it.


[map of Jerusalem]

First we go to the Garden of Gethsemane after a slow walk through the old city, after the upper room Passover and the first Lord’s supper, while Jesus keeps teaching, they pass through the gates of the city and heading east through the valley of Kidron to the Garden.


The Lord prays while the disciples sleep. Who is there? Jesus and his 11 disciples and a curious little fella who is only mentioned in the Gospel of Mark.


The serene and quiet scene of the Garden turns into chaos at the arrest of Jesus.


John 18:3 Judas then, having received the Roman cohort, and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.


John 18:4 Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth, and said to them, "Whom do you seek?" 


John 18:5 They answered Him, "Jesus the Nazarene." He said to them, "I am He." And Judas also who was betraying Him, was standing with them.


John 18:6 When therefore He said to them, "I am He," they drew back, and fell to the ground.


John 18:7 Again therefore He asked them, "Whom do you seek?" And they said, "Jesus the Nazarene."


John 18:8 Jesus answered, "I told you that I am He; if therefore you seek Me, let these go their way," 


John 18:9 that the word might be fulfilled which He spoke, "Of those whom Thou hast given Me I lost not one." 


John 18:10 Simon Peter therefore having a sword, drew it, and struck the high priest's slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave's name was Malchus.


John 18:11 Jesus therefore said to Peter, "Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?"


John 18:12 So the Roman cohort and the commander, and the officers of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound Him,


Peter, James, and John were asked to come away with the Lord to pray and so they were closer to Him at the time of the arrest. Peter lunges forward to attack Malchus and John is also nearby, however James runs as do the other eight who were farther off.


Peter and John get caught up in the arresting party and follow the procession to the palace of the high priest.


John 18:13 and led Him to Annas first; for he was father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.


John 18:14 Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people.


John 18:15 And Simon Peter was following Jesus, and so was another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest,


John 18:16 but Peter was standing at the door outside. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the doorkeeper, and brought in Peter.


So where did the other nine go? We do not see them until the resurrection.


Nine disciples most likely fled east approximately 3 miles, through the Mount of Olives to Bethany and Mary, Martha, and Lazarus where they had stayed the last 5 nights.


In their great fear the disciples would not have fled towards Jerusalem and when in fear we always run to the closest comfortable place, it is highly likely that they fled to Mary and Lazarus’ home, the closest friends of Christ.


This accounts for the absence of Mary and Lazarus at the cross, for they would have certainly been there had they been in the city. But the disciples show up at their house in the middle of the night, probably around 2am, and tell them that Jesus was arrested. If any of them went to the city, they would have likely been arrested as well.


Imagine this night. No one slept in Mary of Bethany’s house after this announcement. Two are in the city witnessing the first trial at night. The others are a few miles away, in the dark so to speak about what is happening to their Lord.


When would those, now hiding in Bethany, hear the news that the Lord was condemned to be crucified?


Peter fled after his third denial of the Lord. Would he have fled to Bethany to be with the others? This is not likely since he was overwhelmingly grieved.


1 Cor 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,


1 Cor 15:4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,


1 Cor 15:5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.


This suggests that Peter wasn’t with them and that Christ came to Peter first, in order to assuage his grief stricken soul.


What was one of the schemes of the devil that we studied?


Satan desires to burden your soul with grief over your sin. Who alleviates this grief - the resurrected Christ!


If He’s alive then I’m alive. Sin no longer has mastery over me. When I feel the burden start to mount in my soul over failures and flaws and weakness, I see an empty tomb, and my Savior standing outside of it, who calls my name as an adoring husband to his wife.


Resurrection is the power of ascendancy over death. It is a life that cannot know death, a life that is indestructible.


Why must we know weakness, shortcomings, flaws, failings, and unsolved problems in life? Emphatically, that His strength may be made perfect in weakness.


In a body of this flesh that deserves death reveals treasure, and light, and life, then someone who has the power over death must have resurrected me.


[slide: map of Jerusalem]


In the early morning, just as the dawn came, the physically beaten and publically humiliated Lord was led through the streets of Jerusalem to the Praetorium. Few people would have been out and the streets fairly deserted, as everyone was worn out by the celebration of His Passover. But, as the sun rose and word spread, it wouldn’t be long before the whole city knew that this famous and intriguing Galilean was on trial for treason, which penalty was death.


Peter is off somewhere, most likely outside the city, grief stricken beyond belief.


The other band, in Bethany, is tingling with apprehension, desiring to go to Jerusalem to find out news, but held back by the idea of arrest and they wait and wait. It most likely took until mid morning before news reached them that Jesus was brought before the Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate.


Imagine being in the Bethany house, waiting for news of the sentence, if there was to be any. Imagine hearing reports slowly. Most likely you would hear good news first. He was to be released; Pilate said he found no guilt in Him, that He was sent to Herod, that Herod found no guilt in Him. By that afternoon, maybe their spirits were high; that Jesus would be released.


Imagine them thinking this good news as the Son of Man was actually hanging on the cross. Not many people would have been leaving Jerusalem to go to Bethany during this spectacle of crucifixion. The word of His actual crucifixion wouldn’t have reached them until hours later.


Imagine their hope being crushed by the news of His conviction and that the whole crowd shouted for Him to be crucified. Imagine their wonder and confusion when even Bethany went dark from noon to 3pm. Did they know why? Did this add to their fear?


Peter, somewhere, nine disciples along with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha only 3 miles away, were engulfed with despair, fear, the anxiety that comes with not knowing, and actual but unexplained darkness.


Word could not reach them in time that they would know what had happened when it happened.


John 16:16 "A little while, and you will no longer behold Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me." 


John 16:17 Some of His disciples therefore said to one another, "What is this thing He is telling us, 'A little while, and you will not behold Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me'; and, 'because I go to the Father'?" 


John 16:18 And so they were saying, "What is this that He says, 'A little while'? We do not know what He is talking about."


John 16:19 Jesus knew that they wished to question Him, and He said to them, "Are you deliberating together about this, that I said, 'A little while, and you will not behold Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me'?


John 16:20 "Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy.


John 16:21 "Whenever a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she remembers the anguish no more, for joy that a child has been born into the world.


John 16:22 "Therefore you too now have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you.


The joy and rejoicing heart will come from their eye witness to the resurrected Lord in whom they will witness victory and their anxiety and fear over the day of His death will be gone forever.


They didn’t hear of His resurrection, they didn’t learn about it, they were not giving a point by point doctrine about resurrection. The change that was enacted in the lives of this small band of confused, grief stricken, anxious, and fearful band was a result of being eye witnesses of His resurrection.


We may then give up on fighting the darkness within ourselves since there is no hope of being any eye witness to the resurrected Christ in our lifetime, but what we must realize is that we have something that no one in this small group possessed when the physical Lord revealed Himself and changed their hearts - the entire canon of scripture and the filling of the Holy Spirit.


Most of them would not have the completed canon in their lifetime and none of them had the Spirit at His appearance on that Sunday. But you and I have both and will always have both.


1 John 3:2

We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.


This is true at the Rapture of the Church, but it can be true to anyone alive during the Church-age who desires to see Him in His word, for the living word and the written word are one and the same.


There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path. When you see the resurrected Lord in time you will lose all fear, all pretense, all confusion, and walk in light.


In this we learn so completely that:


You see, the death that He died is our death and to that death was brought the executioners axe to our flesh, sin nature, our old man who was ignorant, afraid, worried, and in darkness.


This is us at Mary’s house in Bethany, having no clue what is being done with my beloved Savior, and guilt ridden that I couldn’t be there to help Him.


His resurrection is our life, our joy, our rejoicing heart in the true knowledge that He has overcome death in His flesh and His resurrection is the very eternal life of God which now belongs to us.


This is us at the open tomb when we suppose Him to be the gardener until He says our name. This is us hiding in a room until He appears in all glory, never to die again, and proclaiming to us that we have won through Him.


John 11:20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him; but Mary still sat in the house.


John 11:21 Martha therefore said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.


John 11:22 "Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You."


John 11:23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother shall rise again." 


John 11:24 Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day."


John 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies,


John 11:26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? "


At the cross we also have some sullen and dispirited friends of Jesus.


Attendees at the cross: the apostle John, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary the wife of Cleophas, Mary Magdalene, and Salome the mother of John and James.


Two others who were sympathetic to Christ, who were believers but afraid to admit it, were Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. We don’t know if they were at the cross but we do know that Joseph asked for the body from Pilate and Nicodemus helped him prepare the body of Jesus for burial in one of Joseph’s tombs.


Two of the five attendees followed the body of Jesus to see where they had laid Him.


Mark 15:47

And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses [wife of Cleophas] were looking on to see where He was laid.


Jesus’ mother was most likely so grief stricken over what she had witnessed that John, who was charged with her care, and Salome her sister assisted her to a place of solitude and rest while Mary Mag and Mary followed the body of Christ.


Then approached the stillness of the day before, that Sabbath day when no one could work. The great noise and activity and horror of the days prior turned to quiet sobs, the feeling of loss for some and rejoicing for others, and the anxious women, so strong for the Lord, waiting for the morning sun, the ending of the Sabbath, so that they could attend the body of their lost friend with spices and oils. They move as soon as it is lawful and on their way feel troubled as anyone would, walking into a graveyard that contained your recently deceased beloved, at dawn, and not knowing who was going to help you move that enormous stone.


The stone was moved by the angel, not so the resurrected Lord could get out, but that fallen man might look in.


It took most of the morning for the women to see and believe, and most of the day for the men to see and believe.


And they would go as they were told to Galilee and see Him there on the sea and on the mountain and He would tell them to go back to Jerusalem, where they would be ridiculed and persecuted, but to the heart of Israel they went and began to proclaim the good news that sin is paid for and He is risen.


What a change in them all. Together, the disciples, the men and the women would stand strong and proclaim just a few weeks after the event…


Acts 2:24

And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.


This is proclaimed not a 20 minute walk away from the tomb itself. And no one refuted them, no one could produce the body, everyone knew the tomb was empty, and Peter and the rest, so different from what they were during and directly after the crucifixion, boldly proclaim this knowing fully that the grave could no longer hold the Lord nor them.




I want you all to celebrate today, all day. I don’t want you to be concerned about anything else besides celebrating the reality and historical fact, that He is risen.