The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ
After the Sabbath, during the night on the third day after His suffering and death, the Lord Jesus Christ resurrected by the power of His divinity. His body was transformed. He left the tomb unseen by the guards, without rolling away the stone or breaking the seal placed by the Sanhedrin. From that moment on the guards unknowingly guarded an empty sepulcher. Suddenly there occurred a great earthquake. An angel of the Lord descended from Heaven. He rolled back the stone from the entrance to the tomb of the Lord and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his raiment white as snow. The soldiers standing guard at the tomb were terrified and became like dead men. Regaining consciousness after the fright, they dispersed.
On this day, the first day of the week, at dawn when the Sabbath rest had just ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, Salome, and other women took the fragrant myrrh which they had prepared and went to the tomb of Jesus Christ to anoint His body. They had not had time to do this during the burial. The Church calls these women the holy Myrrh-bearers. They still did not know that a guard had been placed at the tomb of the Lord and that the entrance to the cave had been sealed. Therefore, they did not expect to meet anyone there and said among themselves, "Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb?" The stone was very large, and Mary Magdalene walking ahead of the other Myrrh-bearing women arrived at the tomb first. The sun had not yet risen, and it was dark. Seeing that the stone was rolled away from the tomb, Mary hastened to Peter and John and said, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we know not where they have laid Him." Hearing these words, Peter and John immediately ran to the tomb with Mary Magdalene following after them.
At this time, the other women, who had been walking with Mary Magdalene, arrived at the tomb and also saw that the stone was rolled away. They suddenly saw a shining angel sitting on the stone. Turning to them, the angel said. "Fear not, for I know that you seek Jesus, Who was crucified. He is not here, for He is risen as He said when He was with you. Come; see the place where the Lord lay. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead."
They entered into the tomb and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus Christ. They saw, however, an angel in white garments seated on the right side of the place where the Lord had lain, and they were struck with fear.
The angel said to them, "Be not afraid. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, Who was crucified. He is risen; He is not here. Behold the place where they laid Him. Go your way, tell His disciples and Peter (who by his denial fell from the number of the disciples) that He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him, as He told you."
While the women stood in perplexity, behold, two angels stood by them in dazzling apparel. Since they were frightened, the women bowed their faces to the ground in fear.
The angels said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen. Remember how He told you while He was still in Galilee that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise?"
Then, the women remembered the words of the Lord. They went out and fled from the tomb, for they were overcome by fear and trembling. Then, in awe and with great joy, they ran to tell His disciples. On the road, they said nothing to anyone since they were afraid. When they reached the disciples, the women told them everything that they had seen and heard. However, these words seemed to the disciples like an idle story, and they did not believe them.
In the meantime, Peter and John ran to the tomb. John outran Peter and reached the tomb first but did not enter the tomb. Stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there. Then, Simon Peter came and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying and the covering, which had been on Christ’s head; it was not lying with the linen clothes but rolled up in a place by itself. Then, John, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw all of these and believed in the resurrection of Christ. Peter marvelled over the incident. Then, the disciples went back to their homes.
When Peter and John left, Mary Magdalene, who had followed after them, stayed at the tomb. She stood weeping outside the tomb; and as she wept, she stooped to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting one at the head and one at the feet of where the body of the Saviour had lain. The angels said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?"
Mary Magdalene answered to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." Saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus Christ standing, but because of her extreme grief and tears and of her conviction that the dead do not rise, she did not know that it was Jesus.
Jesus Christ said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?"
Supposing Him to be the gardener, Mary Magdalene said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away."
Then, Jesus Christ said to her, "Mary!"
The familiar voice brought her out of her grief to her senses, and she realized that before her stood the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. She exclaimed, "Teacher!" and with indescribable joy cast herself at the feet of the Saviour. In her joy, she did not fully grasp the majesty of this moment.
Jesus Christ showing her the holy and great mystery of His resurrection said, "Do not touch Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren (the disciples) and say to them: I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God."
Then, Mary Magdalene hurried to His disciples and related the news that she had seen the risen Lord and what things He had said to her. This was the first appearance of Christ after His resurrection.
On the way, Mary Magdalene met Mary, mother of James, also returning from the tomb of the Lord. When they went to tell the disciples, suddenly Jesus Christ Himself met them and said, "Rejoice!"
They ran, took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. Then, Jesus Christ said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me." Thus, the risen Christ appeared a second time.
Mary Magdalene with Mary, the mother of James, went to the eleven disciples and all the others, who were grieving and weeping, and announced their great joy. However, hearing from them that Jesus Christ was alive and that they had seen Him, they still did not believe.
After this, Jesus Christ appeared separately to Peter and convinced him of His resurrection. This was His third appearance. Only then, many people did cease to doubt the reality of the resurrection of Christ although there remained unbelievers among them.
The Holy Church confesses from ancient times that before the other appearances, Jesus Christ gladdened His Most-holy Mother by announcing His resurrection to Her through an angel. Concerning this, the Holy Church sings
The Angel cried unto Her Who is full of grace: O pure Virgin, rejoice!, and again I say, rejoice!, for Thy Son is risen from the grave on the third day, and hath raised the dead, O ye people, be joyful!
Shine, shine, O New Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee; dance now and be glad, O Sion, and do Thou exalt, O pure Theotokos, in the arising of Him Whom Thou didst bear.
Meanwhile, the soldiers, who were guarding the tomb of the Lord and dispersed in fear, went to Jerusalem. Several of them went to the chief priests and told them all that had taken place at the tomb of Jesus Christ. When they had assembled with the elders, they took a counsel. Due to their stubbornness, the enemies of Jesus Christ did not want to confirm His resurrection and made up their minds to conceal this event from the people. They bribed the soldiers with money and said, "Tell the people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ If Pilate will hear about it, we will quiet him and keep you out of trouble." So the soldiers took the money and did as they were directed; and this story has been spread among the Jews, so that many of them have believed in that to this present day.
The deception and falsehood of this story is evident to everyone. If the soldiers had been asleep, then they would not have seen what had happened; and if they had seen what had happened, it means they were not asleep and could have detained the thief. The guard is meant to keep its duty. No one could really believe that all the guard, which was composed of several people, could fell asleep. If all the soldiers had fallen asleep, they would have been subjected to strict punishment. Then, why were none of them punished but left alone and even rewarded? How were the terrified disciples, who were locked in their houses out of fear and did not have weapons, able to decide to undertake such a daring venture against armed troops? Furthermore, why would they have done it since they themselves had lost faith in the Saviour? Besides, how could they roll away the large stone without waking everyone? All this is quite impossible. On the contrary, the disciples themselves thought that someone had stolen the body of the Saviour; and only after seeing the empty tomb, they understood that after a theft, it would not have been left so. Finally, why did the leaders of the Jews not search for the body of Christ and not punish the disciples? Thus the enemies of Christ tried to cover an act of God with a coarse fabrication of lies and deceit, but they turned out to be powerless against the truth.
Note: See the Gospels of Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-18. See also I Corinthians, 15:3-5.