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Surprise at Sunrise

Key References: Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-9; Mark 16:1-8; The Desire of Ages, chap. 80, pp. 769-794; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 9, pp. 151-155; Our Beliefs, nos. 11, 9, 14

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“He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be cruci ed, and the third day rise again.’ And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest” (Luke 24:6-9).

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We can share our hope for eternal life because of Jesus’ resurrection.

Have you ever cried yourself to sleep, only to wake up in the morning  lled with hope?

In the closing events of the Crucifixion day, darkness wrapped around the cross where Jesus hung. The priests and mob stopped mocking Jesus. They heard Him cry, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). They heard a Roman centurion say, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54). Many in the crowd felt guilty of a great wrong, and the disciples saw their fondest hopes vanish.

“As the last rays of the setting sun ushered in the Sabbath, the Son of God lay in quietude in Joseph’s tomb. His work completed, His hands folded in peace, He rested through the sacred hours of the Sabbath day” (The Desire of Ages, p. 769).

Just as the Creator of the universe, the Son of God, rested on the seventh day of the Creation week, so Jesus rested in the tomb on the Sabbath after He accomplished our salvation. In Jesus resides our hope for the future. He is our Creator, Redeemer, and soon-coming King. He conquered sin and death and purchased us with His own life. Thanks to Jesus, we are adopted into God’s family and restored into His image.

During the Sabbath hours many sleepless eyes searched the prophecies. Some of the seekers wanted to understand the meaning of Passover fully. Others were seeking to find evidence that Jesus was not the Messiah. But there were earnest believers who sought to find comfort in the prophetic writings indicating that Jesus was truly the Messiah. Their searching convinced them all: prophecy had been fulfilled; the crucifi ed Jesus was the Son of God.

Like never before, people’s attention was drawn to Jesus who was now resting in the tomb. This was the Passover weekend! Thousands of Jews were in Jerusalem. The people brought their sick and suffering ones to the Temple courts and were seeking Jesus, the Healer. But instead of the welcoming presence of Jesus, the crowds who were looking for Him were driven out of the Temple.

News spread everywhere about the trial, crucifixion, and death of Jesus. People earnestly searched the Holy Scriptures and inquired from the priests. The religious leaders of the time could not explain the prophecies about the Messiah that pointed to His suffering and death. Many sincere seekers after the truth were convinced that indeed Jesus fulfilled the prophecies concerning the suffering and death of the Promised One.

The priests feared that Jesus would rise from the dead, just as He said He would, as the prophecies foretold. Pilate allowed them to place a guard of 100 soldiers at the tomb of Jesus. A large stone was rolled to the entrance of the tomb.

Strong chords were attached to the stone to secure it in place. Then the stone was sealed with the Roman seal. Every effort was made to ensure that Jesus would remain in the tomb.

However, on the first day of the week, just before daybreak, there was an earthquake. An angel was sent from heaven surrounded by beams of God’s glory. He called to the Son of God to come out of the tomb at God’s command.

Death could not hold Jesus captive, because He never sinned. He is the resurrection and the life. As the stone was rolled away, Jesus, the Prince of the universe, arose and came out of the tomb. The hosts of angels that surrounded the tomb bowed low and adored their King.

The soldiers who had witnessed the glorious scene fainted. As heavenly glory faded, the soldiers hurried into the city, spreading the news to the people. The priests and elders gave large amounts of money to the soldiers telling them to say that Jesus’ disciples stole Him away while the guards slept (Matthew 28:12, 13). But the truth could not be silenced. In fact, certain of the dead who were resurrected with Christ were seen by others and declared that He had risen (Isaiah 26:19).

Early on that Sunday morning women who had followed Jesus went to the tomb. An angel greeted them and told them that Jesus had risen! After hearing the women’s report, John ran to the tomb and also saw that it was empty. He believed that his Savior had risen (John 20:8).

First to see Jesus after His resurrection was Mary Magdalene. Weeping bitterly, she couldn’t even recognize Him through her tears. It was when He called her by name that she recognized Jesus and worshipped Him.

The resurrection of Jesus is a promise of hope for the future. It is a belief in the resurrection of the saved at the second coming of Jesus. This hope causes us to rejoice and to believe in Him. When Jesus was resurrected, some people who had been dead were resurrected with Him. At His second coming Jesus will call all the righteous dead to glorious, immortal life (John 5:28, 29)! How can we obtain the amazing gift of salvation that Jesus purchased for us through His sacrificial death? The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).