“The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” (Mark 9:31 NIV).
Mary stood near the cross of Jesus and watched as her beloved Son was crucified between two criminals.
The disciples had spent three years with Jesus, learning His teachings and witnessing His miracles. They had watched as Jesus miraculously fed five-thousand people with five loaves of bread and two small fish. They had seen Him defying nature by walking on water, stilling the storms, and calming the seas. They had watched as Jesus restored sight to blind eyes, opened deaf ears, and healed the lame. They had heard Him preach before the multitudes, speaking words that astounded those who heard, and words that ultimately changed the world.
Early Sunday morning, the women from Galilee went to Jesus' tomb to anoint His body and found the tomb empty. The frightened women saw an angel who told them, “Jesus is not here. He has risen.” (Matthew 28:5-6) The risen Christ appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. (Mark 16:9) Mary went to the disciples and told them she had seen Jesus, but they were skeptical. (Mark 16:10-11) On Sunday evening, the disciples gathered together behind locked doors, for fear of the Jewish authorities. (John 20:19) Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” He showed them His nail-pierced hands and wounded side, and the disciples were amazed. (John 20:20)
The risen Christ appeared to more than five-hundred people at one time. (1Corinthians 15:6) Jesus commissioned the disciples to spread the gospel to all the nations of the world and promised to be with them to the end. (Matthew 28:16-20) After forty days on earth (Acts 1:3), Jesus was taken up into Heaven, right before the disciple’s eyes, and seated at the right hand of the Father. (Mark 16:19)
The disciples received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4) and went forth boldly proclaiming the gospel. The once frightened and skeptical disciples were full of faith and zeal, taking the message of the risen Christ to the world. They had witnessed the greatest miracle in all history, and they were forever changed. During times of persecution and peril, their commitment to Christ never wavered. They were willing to lay down their lives for Him.