The Resurrection

Talk on the street

Jesus made a point of weaving the prediction of his resurrection into his teaching during his earthly ministry, both explicitly  (Mt 16:21, 17:22f, 20:19, Mk 8:31, 10:32-34, Lk 9:22, 18:31-33, 24:7), and implicitly (Mt 26:61). Although it didn’t seem to penetrate the consciousness of his disciples at the time, they were able to comprehend eventually when the angel at the resurrection helped them put two and two together (Lk 24:1-8). The whole of Luke 24 shows for us the gears slowly turning in the minds of Jesus’ followers as they process the trauma of the crucifixion. Jesus himself had to jolt them towards clarity (Lk 24:25-26) and remind them of what he had been saying all along. John records this mental process for us also (Jn 2:22).

Even Jesus’ enemies were aware of the “third day” talk which prompted them to warn Pilate to secure the tomb (Mt 27:63-66). Pilate’s risk analysis of the political risk of a missing body prompted him to send guards to “make the tomb as secure as you know how”. This prediction was so well-known that even random passers-by were aware of the three-day thing, as they used it as a slogan in their insults during the crucifixion (Mk 15:29-30).

Proof and fulfilment

John explicitly links for us the “raising of the temple in three days” language to the resurrection (Jn 2:20-22), and further denotes Jesus’ resurrection as a fulfilment of Scripture (Jn 2:22). Jesus also preached a full sermon on this along the road to Emmaus, explicitly linking his resurrection to Scripture – from Moses to the prophets (Lk 24:27, 32). Even a few Psalms for good measure (Lk 24:46, Ps 2, 16, 22, 69, 72, 110, 118). So the resurrection fulfils Scripture.

Jesus also makes an important statement about the nature of proof in Mt 12:39-40. Here he is saying that the only “sign” that was to be given as a proof of his authority and messiah-ship was the sign of Jonah – “three days” in the belly of the earth. That really should be enough proof to trigger repentance. So in this passage Jesus is effectively saying that the resurrection is in a class of its own when it comes to providing divinity credentials.


If we were to take Lk 9:22 and Lk 9:23 together we can detect that the resurrection has a strong link with discipleship. “Saving one’s life” takes on a different hue in light of Lk 9:22. 

The resurrection on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures is the cornerstone of the gospel Paul preached (1 Cor 15:3-8). So much so, that without it, Christianity becomes a pointless project (1 Cor 15:14, 17) as well as a deceitful one ( Cor 15:15). However, with Christ’s resurrection an assured event, his followers have the assured hope of their coming resurrection, a new imperishable and glorious body, raised in power and victory (1 Cor 15:42-44). This truth underpins all of Christian hope and joy (Jn 20:20-23).