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             The day after Jesus died was a special Sabbath day. The Jews did not want the bodies of Jesus and the thieves to stay on their crosses on the Sabbath day. So they asked Pilate to order that the legs of the men be broken to make them die sooner. And they asked that the bodies of the men be taken down from the crosses.

            So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the men who had been crucified with Jesus. But when the soldiers came close to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead. So they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers stuck his spear into Jesus' side. Blood and water came out. These things happened exactly like the Scriptures said. 

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             Later, a man named Joseph asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Joseph was a good man. He wanted the kingdom of God to come. He was a member of the Jewish council. But he had not agreed when the other Jewish leaders decided to kill Jesus.

            Pilate gave Joseph permission to take the body of Jesus. Nicodemus was with Joseph. Nicodemus brought about forty-five kilograms (100 pounds) of spices. Joseph and Nicodemus took Jesus' body down from the cross and wrapped it in pieces of linen cloth with the spices. They put Jesus' body in a new tomb that Joseph had dug in a wall of rock. Then they closed the tomb by rolling a very large stone over the entrance.  

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             The leading priests and Pharisees went to Pilate. They said, "Sir, we remember that while that liar was still alive he said, `After three days I will rise from death.' So give the order for the tomb to be guarded until after three days. His followers might come and try to steal the body. Then they could tell people that he has risen from death. That lie will be even worse than what they said about him before."

            Pilate said, "Take some soldiers and guard the tomb the best way you know." So they all went to the tomb and made it safe from thieves. They did this by sealing the stone in the entrance and then putting soldiers there to guard it. 

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             At dawn Sunday morning, three women who were followers of Jesus (Mary from Magdala, Salome, and Mary the mother of James) brought sweet-smelling spices to put on Jesus' body. At that time there was a very strong earthquake. An angel of the Lord came and rolled the stone away from the entrance of the tomb. The angel was very bright like lightning. His clothes were white like snow. The soldiers guarding the tomb were afraid of the angel. They shook with fear and became like dead men.

            The angel said to the women, "Don't be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus, the One who was killed on the cross. But Jesus is not here. He has risen from death, like he said he would. Come and see the place where his body was. Then go quickly and tell his followers that Jesus has risen from death."

            Jesus' resurrection from death was the greatest event in the history of the world. 

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            So the women left the tomb quickly. They were afraid, but they were also very happy. They ran to tell his followers what happened. Suddenly, Jesus appeared in front of them. The women fell at Jesus' feet and worshiped him.

            Then the women ran to the apostles and the other followers. The women told them everything that happened at the tomb. But the apostles did not believe what the women said. It sounded to them like crazy talk. 

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             Later Jesus showed himself to two followers while they were walking in the country on the road to Emmaus. Jesus said to them, "You should believe everything the prophets said. The prophets said that the Christ must suffer these things before he enters his glory." Then Jesus began to explain everything that had been written about himself in the Scriptures. Jesus started with the books of Moses, and then he talked about what the prophets had said about him.

            These two followers went back to Jerusalem and told the apostles what happened. But the apostles did not believe them. 

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             While the two men were talking to the apostles, Jesus suddenly appeared to them and said, "Peace to you."

            This surprised the followers. They became afraid. They thought they were seeing a ghost. But Jesus said, "Why are you troubled? Why do you doubt what you see? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I! Touch me. You can see that I have a living body. A ghost does not have a body like this."

            After this, Jesus showed them the holes in his hands and feet. The followers were amazed and very happy to see that Jesus was alive. They still could not believe what they saw. Jesus said, "Do you have any food?" They gave him a piece of cooked fish. While they watched, Jesus took the fish and ate it.

            Thomas (one of the twelve) was not with the apostles when Jesus came to them in Jerusalem. The other apostles told Thomas, "We saw the Lord." 

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            Thomas said, "I will not believe it until I see the nail holes in his hands. And I will not believe it until I put my finger where the nails were and put my hand into his side."

            A week later the apostles were in the same house again. Thomas was with them this time. The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them. Jesus said, "Peace be to you!" Then Jesus said to Thomas, "Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand here in my side. Stop doubting and start believing."

            Thomas said to Jesus, "My Lord and my God!"

            Jesus said to Thomas, "You believe because you see me. Blessed are those people who believe without seeing." 

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             Later, the apostles went to Galilee and met Jesus on a mountain there. Jesus said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me. So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these people to obey everything that I have told you. You can be sure that I will be with you always, even until the end of the world." 

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            During the forty days after Jesus was raised from death, he met with his apostles many times and spoke to them about the kingdom of God. In Jerusalem, he said to them, "It is written that the Christ would be killed and would rise from death on the third day. You saw these things happen--you are witnesses. You must go and tell people that their sins can be forgiven. Tell them that they must change their hearts and be sorry for their sins. If they will do this, then God will forgive them. You must start from Jerusalem and preach these things in my name. This Good News must be told to all people in the world. But stay in Jerusalem until you have received power from heaven." 

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            Having said this, Jesus led his followers out to the Mount of Olives. There, he told them, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to you. You will be my witnesses. You will tell people about me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world. Go everywhere in the world and tell the Good News to every person. Any person who believes and is baptized will be saved. But the person who does not believe will be judged guilty."  

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             After Jesus said these things, he was lifted up into the sky. While the apostles were watching, Jesus went into a cloud, and they could not see him any more.

            Suddenly, two angels wearing white clothes stood beside them. The angels said, "Men of Galilee, why are you standing here looking into the sky? You saw Jesus carried away from you into heaven. He will come back in the same way you saw him go."

            So Jesus was carried up into heaven. There he sat down at the right side of God to speak for his people who have sinned. 

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             1. The prophets said that Jesus would rise from death. David wrote about Jesus' resurrection when he said, "You (God) will not let the body of your Holy One rot in the grave."

             Isaiah, also, wrote about Jesus' resurrection when he said, "The Servant gave himself to be the One to die. But he will have new life." 

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            2. Jesus predicted that he would rise from death. In Jerusalem Jesus said, "I give my life so that I can take it back again." At Caesarea Philippi Jesus told his apostles that he would be killed, but he would be raised from death on the third day. At least six times, Jesus predicted his own resurrection. 

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            3. Jesus really was raised from death. When we read in the Bible that Jesus was raised from death, we are not reading a fable. We are reading history. Jesus was actually, physically, and literally raised from death. The guarded tomb was really empty. Mary Magdalene, the other women, the two followers on the road to Emmaus, Peter, James, the other apostles, and more than 500 followers in Galilee all saw Jesus after he was raised from death. Some people saw him many times. They went everywhere telling people, "We have seen Jesus. We have touched him with our hands. We have heard his teaching with our own ears." 

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            4. We, too, will rise from death. Jesus said, "A time is coming when all people who are dead and in their graves will hear the voice of the Son of Man. Then they will come out of their graves. The people that did good in life will rise and have life forever. But those who did evil will rise to be judged guilty."

            Jesus will come again in great glory. All his angels will come with him. He will sit on his great throne as King. All the people of the world will be gathered before him. Then he will separate people into two groups like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will say to those on his right, "Come and get the kingdom that God has promised you." He will say to those on his left, "Go away from me. Go into the fire that burns forever. That fire was prepared for the devil and his angels." Then the bad people will go away to be punished forever. But the good people will have life forever. 

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            The Good News is: Jesus has made it possible for everyone to have life with him forever. He does not want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to trust and obey. 

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Scripture References: Matthew 12:39-40; 16:21; 17:9, 23; 20:19; 25:31-46; 26:2; 27:55-66; 28:1-28; Mark 15:42-47; 16:1-16; Luke 18:30-33; 23:50-56; 24:1-53; John 5:28-29; 19:31-42; 20:1-29; Acts 1:1-11; I Corinthians 15:1-8; Psalms 16:10; Isaiah 53:10.


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