Matthew 28.5-10



1.   “All but four of the major world religions are based on mere philosophical propositions.  Of the four that are based on personalities rather than on a philosophical system, only Christianity claims an empty tomb for its founder.  Abraham, the father of Judaism, died about 1900 B.C., but no resurrection was ever claimed for him.”[1]

2.   “Wilbur M. Smith says in Therefore Stand: ‘The original accounts of Buddha never ascribe to him any such thing as a resurrection; in fact, in the earliest accounts of his death, namely, the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, we read that when Buddha died it was ‘with that utter passing away in which nothing whatever remains behind.’’ (Smith, TS, 385)”[2]

3.   “‘Mohammed died June 8, 632 A.D., at the age of sixty-one, at Medina, where his tomb is annually visited by thousands of devout Mohammedans.  All the millions and millions of Jews, Buddhists, and Mohammedans agree that their founders have never come up out of the dust of the earth in resurrection.’ (Childers, as cited in Smith, TS, 385)”[3]

4.   “William Lane Craig writes: ‘Without the belief in the resurrection the Christian faith could not have come into being.  The disciples would have remained crushed and defeated men.  Even had they continued to remember Jesus as their beloved teacher, his crucifixion would have forever silenced any hopes of his being the Messiah.  The cross would have remained the sad and shameful end of his career.  The origin of Christianity therefore hinges on the belief of the early disciples that God had raised Jesus from the dead.’ (Craig, KTR, 116-17)”[4]

5.   “Theodosus Harnack says: ‘Where you stand with regard to the fact of the Resurrection is in my eyes no longer Christian theology.  To me Christianity stands or falls with the Resurrection.’ (Harnack, as cited in Smith, TS, 437)”[5]

6.   “John Locke was probably the greatest philosopher of his century.  In his work, A Second Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity, Works, this British scholar writes:  There are some particulars in the history of our Saviour, allowed to be so peculiarly appropriated to the Messiah, such innumerable marks of Him, that to believe them of Jesus of Nazareth was in effect the same as to believe Him to be the Messiah, and so are put to express it.  The principal of these is His Resurrection from the dead; which being the great and demonstrative proof of His being the Messiah, it is not at all strange that those believing His Resurrection should be put forth for believing Him to be the Messiah; since the declaring His Resurrection was declaring Him to be the Messiah. (Locke, SVRC, as cited in Smith, TS, 422-23).”[6]

7.   “Josephus, a Jewish historian writing at the end of the first century A.D. has this fascinating passage in Antiquities, 18.3.3:  Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.  He drew over to him many Jews, and also many of the Greeks.  This man was the Christ.  And when Pilate had condemned him to the cross, upon his impeachment by the principal man among us, those who had loved him from the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive on the third day, the divine prophets having spoken these and thousands of other wonderful things about him.  And even now, the race of Christians, so named from him, has not died out. (Josephus, AJ, 18.3.3).”[7]

8.   It is clear from what I have just read that notable men regard the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead as both true and significant.  I do not need to prove to this crowd that the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, made His Own resurrection from the dead one of the three pillars upon which the Christian faith would stand or fall.[8]

9.   Yet, as Christendom celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ on this Easter day, I find a great error that once threatened the Christian faith many centuries ago creeping back into men’s thinking.  Even those who consider themselves to be Christians are accommodating the doctrinal heresy that Jesus did not rise from the dead in His physical body, but claim He rose from the dead as a spirit.

10. Rather than spend our Easter Sunday arguing with people who are not sitting in our auditorium, allow me to very simply and very quickly support the historical and orthodox Christian position that Jesus rose from the dead in His Own body that had been glorified.

11. But what is a glorified body?[9]  No one really knows.  The word “glory” refers to being bright, shining, and radiant.[10]  But beyond that appearance and the recognition that a glorified body is a body that is designed to inhabit timeless eternity rather than time and space, we do not really know what a glorified body is.

12. Let me direct you to Matthew 28.5-8.  When you find that portion of God’s Word, where we are told of the women’s approach to the tomb where Jesus had been buried, please stand and read along silently while I read aloud:

5      And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

6      He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7      And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

8      And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.


13. What did the women see when they looked into the tomb?  Nothing.  Why did they see nothing?  No one was in the tomb.  No thing was in the tomb, that they could see.  The body of Jesus was gone.  One of the angels said “he is risen from the dead.”  So, they took off to tell the disciples.

14. Now read verses 9 and 10 with me:

9      And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail.  And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

10     Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.


15. My, how surprised the women must have been to see their risen Lord.  What an honor God has bestowed upon them to have been the first to see the glorified Savior, clearly reflecting the exalted status of women in the Christian faith.  These, then, are the first witnesses to the resurrection.

16. Uninhibited and without reservation, they prostrated themselves before Him, and did what?  They held Him by the what?  In order for the women to hold Jesus by the feet He would have had to have a . . . body!

17. Very quickly, let me rehearse for you the facts concerning the body of Jesus Christ, to put to rest once and for all this utter nonsense that Jesus rose from the dead as some kind of spirit.



Doceticism is the ancient heresy that Jesus was fully God but only appeared to be human.[11]

1B.    So, how do we know Jesus had a human body?

1C.   Don’t most men have a body?  I mean, would it not be rather ridiculous for a man not to have a body?  Paul refers to Jesus as “the man Christ Jesus” in First Timothy 2.5.  Wouldn’t Paul know?  After all, he had met and had conversed with the Lord Jesus Christ, had he not?[12]

2C.   However, let me confine myself for now to the Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry before His crucifixion.  He was born, was He not?[13]  He grew from childhood to adulthood, did He not?[14]  He ate and angered and wept and slept.[15]  Did He not bleed and die?[16]  How could someone go through all of these physical experiences without a body?

3C.   Of course, He had a body.  Did not His mother nurse Him as an infant?[17]  Was He not circumcised on the eighth day?[18]  Were not His feet washed with tears, and kissed, and anointed with ointment?[19]  Did not John lay his head on the Savior’s breast?[20]

2B.    Of course, He had a body.  He had to have a body.

You cannot be a man without a body.  He referred to Himself many times as “the son of Man.”  But there are three powerful reasons Jesus had to have a body.

1C.   First, it was predicted that He would have a body.  I read the writer of Hebrews as he quotes from Psalm 40.6:  “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me.”[21]

2C.   Next, in order for the Lord Jesus Christ to be our kinsman-redeemer He had to be of near kin to us.  That requirement was fulfilled when Jesus became a man . . . with a human body.

3C.   Third, in order to shed His blood for the remission of sins He had to have a body.[22]  No body, no blood.

4C.   So, it is established that the Lord Jesus Christ was really a man, having a human body, yet without sin.[23]



1B.    How do we know Jesus died, leaving His body dead?

1C.   He said He would die.[24]

2C.   The Romans knew that He was dead.[25]

3C.   The spear in His side showed that He was dead.[26]

4C.   His disciples would not have buried Him had He not been dead.

2B.    But why must Jesus have died, leaving His body dead?

1C.   He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.[27]

2C.   Besides, how could the blood of Christ wash away sins except He shed His blood and die?[28]

3C.   And on this Easter morning, could Jesus have risen from the dead without first dying?  No.

4C.   So, you see that Jesus must needs have died, leaving His body, His human body, dead.



His dead body was taken down from the cross and hastily prepared for burial and placed in the tomb before the onset of the Sabbath.  Three questions related to the burial of Jesus come to mind:

1B.    First, what happened to Jesus’ body in the tomb?

1C.   While the body was in the tomb, during the time between His burial and His resurrection, absolutely nothing happened to His body.

2C.   Psalm 16.10 predicted, and Simon Peter on the day of Pentecost reminds his audience, Acts 2.27, that God did not “suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”

3C.   Thus, the body of Jesus Christ, which would include the blood of Jesus Christ, did not see corruption.

2B.    What, then, happened to Jesus’ spirit?

1C.   The spirit leaves the body at the time of physical death, does it not?  So, then, what happened to the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ?

2C.   Jesus tells us, Himself, what happened to His spirit.  Luke 23.46:  “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”

3B.    Does Jesus have a soul?  What happened to Jesus’ soul when He died?

1C.   Jesus did have a soul.  Jesus does have a soul.  When God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life Adam became a living soul.[29]  If Jesus did not have a soul before the incarnation, He certainly had one from the moment He took upon Himself human flesh.

2C.   But what happened to the soul of Jesus when He died?  Psalm 16.10 begins, “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.”  First Peter 3.19 informs us that Jesus “went and preached unto the spirits in prison.”  When did this happen?

3C.   I am of the opinion that when Jesus died His soul went to Hell.  Not the portion of Hell reserved for the unsaved to be punished, but that portion where the saved were kept until Jesus led captivity captive and took Abraham and the Old Testament saints, from that portion of Hell called paradise, to heaven.[30]

4C.   So, you see, unless Jesus actually died He could not have commended His spirit to the Father, His soul could not have gone to paradise to take captivity captive and lead the Old Testament saints to heaven, and He could not have legitimately raised up His body from the dead.



1B.    What is declared to have happened?

1C.   In his great Pentecostal sermon, Simon Peter boldly declares, “This Jesus hath God raised up.”[31]

2C.   In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul writes, “Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father.”[32]

3C.   And in Revelation 1.11-12, John writes that he both saw and heard the glorified Lord Jesus.

2B.    Such things declared, what can we surmise to have happened?

1C.   Let me advise you that I am stepping out onto the thin ice of conjecture now, giving you my opinion, whereas up until now I have been reviewing what is, for the most part, explicitly stated in Scripture.

2C.   We know Jesus commended His spirit to the Father.  We know His soul went to Hell to retrieve the Old Testament saints and take them from paradise, or Abraham’s bosom, to heaven.  We know that His body remained in the tomb without corruption or decay.

3C.   Therefore, I presume that at the moment of His resurrection from the dead, whereupon His body was gloriously transformed and made alive again, His spirit and His soul also returned to His now glorified body.  Thus, Jesus rose up a complete man; body, soul, and spirit.

3B.    But this is what witnesses verified as happening:

1C.   First, Jesus was visible and recognizable (at least to the women).  His glorified body was physical, so that His feet could be held.

2C.   Second, Jesus was physical and recognizable to doubting Thomas, who was challenged by the Lord Jesus to feel the wounds in His hands and to thrust His fingers into the wound in His side.  Thus, though Jesus could, apparently, pass through walls (remember, He entered though the door was closed), He could also be felt.[33]

3C.   Third, on the road to Emmaus, Jesus encountered two disciples Who did not recognize Him at first, ate food with them, and then suddenly vanished out of their sight after having taught them.[34]

4C.   Fourth, Jesus was seen after His resurrection by the women, by Peter, by James, by Paul, and also by more than 500 believers at one time.[35]

5C.   And, fifth, Jesus was seen ascending:  “. . . while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.”[36]

6C.   So, the Lord Jesus Christ had a different body, an unusual body, a glorified body, but a body nevertheless.  It was a body that showed the scars of His crucifixion.  It was a body that was recognizable when He wanted to be recognized.  It was a body that could be grasped and felt and held.  In short, when Jesus rose from the dead He rose up with a body, and not as a spirit.



1B.    This is where Mark’s Gospel tells us Jesus went at the time of His ascension, Mark 16.19:  “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.”

2B.    This is where Stephen says He saw the Lord Jesus at the time of his martyrdom, Acts 7.56:  “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”

3B.    This is where the apostle Paul indicates He now is, Romans 8.34:  “Christ . . . is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”

4B.    And this is where He will come from at the time of His return to earth, Revelation 19.11-16:

11     And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

12     His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.

13     And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

14     And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

15     And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

16     And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.


5B.    When Jesus comes back He will be visible, riding a horse, with eyes and a crowned head, a thigh, and impressively clothed.  In short, He will return in the same form as He left, with a glorified human body.



1.   Why is it important that Jesus have a body?  We have seen numerous reasons, not the least of which being His real crucifixion on a real cross, the shedding of His real blood to atone for sins.

2.   Why is it important that Jesus be raised from the dead in a real, though glorified body?  Because being raised up in spirit is incomplete, as we have seen, leaving His soul unaccounted for, as well as the whereabouts of His real body.

3.   But a bodily resurrection from the dead explains everything, including His precious blood.  You see, Romans 4.25 tells us that Jesus “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”  Thus, He, Jesus, the entire Savior, had to be raised from the dead to accomplish the justification of sinful men.

4.   Understand that there are many details I do not have time to go into at present, but how would you like to be saved from your sins all the way to heaven?  Would you like for your spirit only to be delivered, with your soul and your body left behind?  No?

5.   You have to understand, what happened to Jesus is what will happen to those who trust Jesus.  If He was only raised as a spirit, then you can only be raised as a spirit, leaving your eternal soul unsaved from sin.  But glory be to God, Jesus was raised up body, soul and spirit, the complete man; victorious over sin, death, Hell and the grave.

6.   This is why the Bible shows, and why real Christians strongly insist, that Jesus was not raised up from the dead as a spirit, but was raised up bodily, completely, fully.

7.   And it was with this knowledge and conviction that the saints of long ago greeted each other by saying, “He is risen.”  I say again, “He is risen.”  Good day and may God bless you, is my prayer.

[1] Josh D. McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), page 205.

[2] Quoted in Josh D. McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), page 205.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Quoted in Josh D. McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), page 218.

[7] Quoted in Josh D. McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), page 213.

[8] 1 Corinthians 15.1-4

[9] 1 Corinthians 15.43

[10] See doxa in Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 256-257.

[11] Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1999), page 40.

[12] Acts 9.4-6

[13] Luke 2.7

[14] Luke 2.52

[15] Matthew 12.4; Mark 3.5; John 11.35; Luke 8.23

[16] Romans 5.6, 8; Colossians 1.20

[17] Luke 11.27

[18] Luke 2.21

[19] Luke 7.38;

[20] John 13.23

[21] Hebrews 10.5

[22] Hebrews 9.22

[23] Hebrews 4.15

[24] John 12.33; 18.32

[25] John 19.33

[26] John 19.34

[27] Revelation 13.8

[28] 1 John 1.7

[29] Genesis 2.7

[30] Ephesians 4.8-10

[31] Acts 2.32

[32] Romans 6.4

[33] John 20.26-28

[34] Luke 24.13-31

[35] Matthew 28.9; 1 Corinthians 15.5-8

[36] Acts 1.9

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