The Scripture doesn’t give us an exact time of the resurrection of Jesus, but in putting together a few clues — 1) the women arrived just at daybreak, 2) the soldiers appear to be just picking themselves up on the ground from becoming like dead men at the appearance of the angel who rolled away the stone — it would appear that Jesus rose from the dead just before dawn on the first day of the week.
Before the sun had arisen, several women who followed Jesus got up and went to the tomb to finish anointing the body of Jesus. A problem was anticipated, though; who would roll the stone away for them? The tomb was guarded, sealed, and really heavy. However, when women arrived, they got news that they could scarcely believe from an angel who had rolled the stone away to reveal an empty tomb. “He is not here, He is risen!”
Mary Magdalene ran immediately to tell the apostles. Upon hearing this amazing news, Peter and John ran to the tomb to check it out. Mary, who had already run all the way to where the apostles were (and was probably tired) trailed behind the two running men. Peter and John arrived at the tomb and looked into the empty tomb, but they don’t understand and they walk away puzzled. Meanwhile,
Mary finally arrives back at the tomb, fatigued, confused, and deeply grieved. She peers into the tomb and sees angels there, who ask her why she is weeping. “They’ve taken away my Lord and I don’t know where they’ve laid Him,” she replied. A “gardener” shows up and Mary, through tears, asks him where the body of Jesus was; to which the “gardener” simply replied, “Mary.” Immediately Mary’s ears recognized what her tear filled eyes didn’t see, Jesus. She fell at His feet, but Jesus gave her a new job, to tell the disciples that she had seen the resurrected Jesus.
Meanwhile the other women returning to tell the apostles of an empty tomb also see the resurrected Jesus. Mary and the other women possibly arrived where the apostles and other disciples were staying about the same time, with similar but different stories.
A little later in the day, two disciples (one named Cleopas), were walking back to a town called Emmaus. As they were discussing the amazing events of the crucifixion, the confusing report of an empty tomb and mind-blowing reports of the women who claimed to have seen the Lord, they were joined by a stranger who asked a lot of questions and opened their minds to how all these events could not only be true but fulfillment of prophecy. As they arrived in Emmaus about dinner time, they invited the stranger to stay and have dinner. As the stranger broke the bread, their eyes were opened to realize that it had been Jesus the whole time — who then disappeared before them. The men in joy rushed back to Jerusalem and the apostles to report a new sighting of the Lord.
Between the women’s reports, the empty tomb, and the apostles disbelief there seems to have been a bunch of head scratching in the upper room where they had gathered — until Jesus appeared in their midst in a locked upper room. There the apostles were given the opportunity to touch and have tangible proof that Jesus had truly arisen from the dead.
Jesus had risen, really risen from the dead!!
What does it mean?
Jesus is the Christ — The one sign that Jesus gave to doubting opponents that He was the Son of God was what was called the “sign of Jonah”, three days and three nights in the tomb from which He would arise. It happened and truly proved that He was the Christ, the Son of the Living God!
Our sins are really forgiven — The cross was the key to our salvation, but the resurrection is the key to belief. Had Jesus not risen from the dead there would be no evidence that our sins have really been forgiven, but because He did, we have no doubts.
The skepticism of the apostles is a good thing — While we may cluck our tongues at the disbelief of the apostles (Why didn’t they listen to His predictions and teachings about His resurrection?) the skepticism of the apostles gives us strong reason to believe that Jesus really did rise from the dead. These men were not naive bumpkins who were easily fooled into believing pretty much anything. In their experience — just as in ours — the dead remain dead. They were skeptics until they had been able to see with their own eyes, touch with their own hands, and hear with their own ears. We should be thankful for their disbelief, because it didn’t remain doubt after the evidence was given — if these skeptics could believe, we can too.