Over and over again during his three- and one-half years public ministry Jesus predicted his death and resurrection from the dead. Shortly after the cleansing of the Temple. Jesus spoke the following to the Jews of Jerusalem: “Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”
But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.” John 2:19-22
During his Galilean ministry Jesus declared, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:40
Shortly after Peter’s confession, we read, “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” (Matthew 16:21-22 – see also Mark 8:31 and Luke 9:22).
The open tomb is admitted by friend and foe alike to have been empty on the third day. Who opened the tomb and why? The disciples, the soldiers, the Jews nor anyone else had a reason to open the tomb. The angel of the Lord opened the tomb and Christ walked out alive. Matthew records “And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.” (Matthew 28:2-3). The angel made the following announcement to the women at the tomb, “he is not hear; for he is risen, as he said. Come see the place where the Lord lay (Matthew 28:6). The open tomb must be accounted for. The body was either removed by human hands or superhuman power.
The grave clothes are another argument for the resurrection of Jesus. In John 20:5-10 the Bible says, “And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.” Had robbers, or the enemies of Jesus stolen the body, would they have taken the time to remove the grave clothes, and even fold the napkin and put it in a place by itself?
The claims of the early church emphasized the ressurection. Take some time and read the following passages that tell of the preaching and teaching of the apostles about the resurrection: Acts 1:1-3, 22; 2:24, 30-33; 3:15, 26; 4:10, 33, 5:30; 10:40-41; 13:23,30, 31, 33, 37; 17:3, 18, 31; 26:22-23
Let us remember that Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:4).
Much of this material was taken from Clifford Rumley, Hapeville church of Christ, October-December 1990