The resurrection is the defining event in the life of Jesus. Without the resurrection, Jesus becomes just another world religious leader and not the Messiah proclaimed by the Old Testament prophets and as He Himself claimed to be.
Chapter 28 of Matthew’s gospel gives several proofs that Jesus was raised from the dead — His personal appearances, an angelic pronouncement, a bribe and false statements by the enemies of Jesus, and the apostles’ fulfillment of Jesus’ commission.
The testimony of two women would be very unusual. Upon arrival at the tomb just before dawn on the first day of the week, they found the tomb open and an angel sitting on the stone that had previously covered the opening. This angel announced that Jesus was not there but had risen and they should go tell the disciples to meet Jesus in Galilee. Sometime after departing from the tomb, Jesus stops the two women. They fall at His feet in respect, admiration and worship Him. Jesus tells them to go tell the disciples to meet Him in Galilee.
While the women are on their journey, the tomb guards go to the chief priests and elders to tell them about an earthquake, the open tomb, and that Jesus was no longer in the tomb. The religious leaders give the guards money to say that the body of Jesus had been stolen by His disciples. The guards did as they were told and the false message spread throughout the region.
Some days later, Jesus meet His disciples in Galilee. Some of the disciples were willing to worship Jesus, while others did not know how to react to what they were seeing. After further proof, the doubters became persuaded believers.
The final proof Matthew presents is the commission Jesus gives to the apostles to go and make disciples of “all the nations.” Superficially, this seems to be a command by Jesus to the apostles, and so it is, but the proof is in the fulfillment of this commission. These apostles did take the message of Jesus to “all the nations” and they did make disciples of “all the nations.” They even taught “all the nations” the “commandments” which Jesus had taught them.
All of these proofs could be verified by the people living in the days following the resurrection of Jesus. His appearance to women would be strong proof in that day. Jesus’ enemies fabricating a cover up story is strong proof that the resurrection did occur. The spreading of the message of Jesus to “all the nations” is strong proof of the resurrection. These proofs, along with others, should provide great motivation for us to be living God’s way.
Carlton G. McPeak is an evangelist working in the Florida Gateway region. All Scriptural quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Holman Bible Publishers, unless otherwise stated. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.