The post resurrection appearances began at the empty tomb. This fact occurs in each of the 4 gospels and 3 of the gospels include the appearance of a heavenly being interacting with the grieving followers of Jesus. Since Jesus had been hastily buried due to the need to have him buried before sundown, as it was the beginning of the Sabbath and no one could be buried on the Sabbath, His body was not properly prepared with spices. It was wrapped but not fully treated. The women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went to the tomb with spices intending to anoint Jesus’ body. The gospel accounts say it was very early in the morning as they walked and talked on the way to the garden tomb. They were concerned about how they were going to get the stone in front of the tomb removed so they could enter to anoint Jesus’ body. When they arrived this was the scene:
“And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Mark 16:4-8
The angel, who appeared to be a young man, told them not to be afraid as he had good news about Jesus. He encouraged them to look and see that Jesus was not there. He also told them to go and tell the others Jesus had risen, and they would see Him again. The women rushed off to tell the disciples. John describes the disciples’ reactions in John 20:3-8. “So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;”
Can you even imagine their joy, surprise, awe, fear and even confusion over experiencing the empty tomb, the clothes that had been wrapped around Jesus’ body that lay neatly folded? The disciples saw and believed. How about you? Do you see the things God does in your life, the unusual happenings, the providential circumstances that can only be explained as God’s hand? Do these things register with you that God loves and cares for you? God has a plan for your life just as He did for these disciples. He wanted them to encounter the living God, the resurrected Jesus, and experience His transforming power in their lives.
May you encounter the Living Jesus and His transforming power today as you realize afresh that the tomb is empty and He has Risen Indeed!