- The holy women carrying the spices previously prepared start out for the sepulchre before dawn, and reach it after sunrise; they are anxious about the heavy stone, but know nothing of the official guard of the sepulchre (Matthew 28: 1-3; Mark 16: 1-3; Luke 24: 1; John 20: 1).
- The angel frightened the guards by his brightness, put them to flight, rolled away the stone, and seated himself not upon (ep autou), but above (epano autou) the stone (Matthew 28: 2-4).
- Mary Magdalen, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome approach the sepulchre, and see the stone rolled back, whereupon Mary Magdalen immediately returns to inform the Apostles (Mark 16: 4; Luke 24: 2; John 20: 1-2).
- The other two holy women enter the sepulchre, find an angel seated in the vestibule, who shows them the empty sepulchre, announces the Resurrection, and commissions them to tell the disciples and Peter that they shall see Jesus in Galilee (Matthew 28: 5-7; Mark 16: 5-7).
- A second group of holy women, consisting of Joanna and her companions, arrive at the sepulchre, where they have probably agreed to meet the first group, enter the empty interior, and are admonished by two angels that Jesus has risen according to His prediction (Luke 24: 10).
- Not long after, Peter and John, who were notified by Mary Magdalen, arrive at the sepulchre and find the linen cloth in such a position as to exclude the supposition that the body was stolen; for they lay simply flat on the ground, showing that the sacred body had vanished out of them without touching them. When John notices this he believes (John 20: 3-10).
- Mary Magdalen returns to the sepulchre, sees first two angels within, and then Jesus Himself (John 20: 11-16; Mark 16: 9).
- The two groups of pious women, who probably met on their return to the city, are favored with the sight of Christ arisen, who commissions them to tell His brethren that they will see him in Galilee (Matthew 28: 8-10; Mark 16: 8).
- The holy women relate their experiences to the Apostles, but find no belief (Mark 16: 10-11; Luke 24: 9-11).
- Jesus appears to the disciples, at Emmaus, and they return to Jerusalem; the Apostles appear to waver between doubt and belief (Mark 16: 12-13; Luke 24: 13-35).
- Christ appears to Peter, and therefore Peter and John firmly believe in the Resurrection (Luke 24: 34; John 20: 8).
- After the return of the disciples from Emmaus, Jesus appears to all the Apostles excepting Thomas (Mark 16: 14; Luke 24: 36-43; John 20: 19-25).
The harmony of the other appearances of Christ after His Resurrection presents no special difficulties.
Briefly, therefore, the fact of Christ's Resurrection is attested by more than five hundred eyewitnesses, whose experience, simplicity, and uprightness of life rendered them incapable of inventing such a fable, who lived at a time when any attempt to deceive could have been easily discovered, who had nothing in this life to gain, but everything to lose by their testimony, whose moral courage exhibited in their apostolic life can be explained only by their intimate conviction of the objective truth of their message. Again the fact of Christ's Resurrection is attested by the eloquent silence of the Synagogue which had done everything to prevent deception, which could have easily discovered deception, if there had been any, which opposed only sleeping witnesses to the testimony of the Apostles, which did not punish the alleged carelessness of the official guard, and which could not answer the testimony of the Apostles except by threatening them "that they speak no more in this name to any man" (Acts 4: 17). Finally the thousands and millions, both Jews and Gentiles, who believed the testimony of the Apostles in spite of all the disadvantages following from such a belief, in short the origin of the Church, requires for its explanation the reality of Christ's Resurrection, for the rise of the Church without the Resurrection would have been a greater miracle than the Resurrection itself.
The Resurrection of Christ has much in common with the general resurrection; even the transformation of His body and of His bodily life is of the same kind as that which awaits the blessed in their resurrection. But the following peculiarities must be noted:
- Christ's Resurrection is necessarily a glorious one; it implies not merely the reunion of body and soul, but also the glorification of the body.
- Christ's body was to know no corruption, but rose again soon after death, when sufficient time had elapsed to leave no doubt as to the reality of His death.
- Christ was the first to rise unto life immortal; those raised before Him died again (Colossians 1: 18; 1 Corinthians 15: 20).
- As the Divine power which raised Christ from the grave was His own power, He rose from the dead by His own power (John 2: 19; 10: 17-18).
- Since the Resurrection had been promised as the main proof of Christ's Divine mission, it has a greater dogmatic importance than any other fact. "If Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" (1 Corinthians 15: 14).
Besides being the fundamental argument for our Christian belief, the Resurrection is important for the following reasons:
- It shows the justice of God who exalted Christ to a life of glory, as Christ had humbled Himself unto death (Philippians 2: 8-9).
- The Resurrection completed the mystery of our salvation and redemption; by His death Christ freed us from sin, and by His Resurrection He restored to us the most important privileges lost by sin (Romans 4: 25).
- By His Resurrection we acknowledge Christ as the immortal God, the efficient and exemplary cause of our own resurrection (1 Corinthians 15: 21; Philippians 3: 20-21), and as the model and the support of our new life of grace (Romans 6: 4-6 and 9-11).