On Good Friday Jesus’ disciples were frightened because they’d seen their Lord and Master die on the cross. But on the first Easter Day they met him again: he was alive in a new and wonderful way…not a dream, nor wishful thinking, nor resuscitation but RESURRECTION.

Various meetings between the resurrected Jesus and his followers are recorded in the Bible: Jesus showed himself to Peter who had denied him, to Thomas who had doubted him, to Mary who had wept for him. He visited his friends, ate with his disciples and talked with his followers. The first Easter was an incredible day, one that started with disbelief, with fear and trembling and bewilderment beside the empty tomb, and ended with astonishment, excitement and thanksgiving.
The Resurrection of Jesus is a one off event, which can’t be repeated! And we look to the “witnesses” at the time to tell their story. There are various important points to remember:

a) Jesus really died, when the Roman soldiers went to break his legs so as to hasten his death they confirmed that Jesus  was already dead. So Jesus had not merely fainted!

b) The witnesses describe an “empty tomb”, Jesus’ body was no longer where it had been laid, only the cloth in which it had been wrapped. Jesus’ body was never found, and we can be sure that there was a tremendous effort to find it, if just to refute the claims that the disciples were making about “resurrection”.

c) Jesus appeared to his followers after his resurrection, his body was in some was recognisable but in other ways it was different

d) There was tremendous change in the behaviour of Jesus’ followers – immediately Jesus’ death they were hiding and frightened – as they became convinced of Jesus’ resurrection they became very bold, and spoke openly about Jesus and what had happened. The early church continued to grow very fast as people became convinced about the truth of the resurrection

e) After his resurrection Jesus ascended into heaven, so he is no longer visible as he was to his first disciples, but it is the continuing experience of the church that Jesus is still alive.

The meaning of the resurrection

By raising Jesus to new life God shows that death and evil do not defeat us. It shows that Jesus is the Son of God – not juts an ordinary man. It also gives us hope and the assurance that death in this life is not the end.

The certainty that Jesus is risen, Jesus is alive, is the base of the Christian faith. We can experience a relationship with Jesus alive in the Church, in the world and in us. Jesus said “I am with you till the end of time”.

The disciples realised that if Jesus was risen and alive in a new way, then his death could not have been the same as the death of anyone else. His death must have meaning. God was somehow acting in this death as well as in this resurrection. So they looked back at the cross.

The meaning of the cross.

Sin, evil had created a barrier between imperfect humanity and perfect God. The relationship was broken. Mankind had tried to put this right by sacrifice to please God. But this was the wrong way of understanding things: it was God who took the initiative and came to meet humanity. The meeting point is Jesus.

Early Christian used several different images to understand the cross: see hand out.