Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

- Isaiah 53:1-12 NIV
630 B.C.



Was Jesus resurrected from the dead?
3) the summary gospel account

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word have handed them down to us, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

- Luke 1:1-4 NASB

5.3 What was observed?


The account of Jesus' resurrection appears in detail in each of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). To read any one of these four provides a good picture of the events surrounding his return from death. But each account varies with the details it includes. Those details aren't contradictory, which is to say they don't give conflicting facts about what happened; they are instead complimentary. Like corroborating witnesses testifying in court, each provides additional names, conversations, or actions that only some or none of the others mention. They are all legitimate parts of the whole story.

In order to know what the first generation church accepted as reliable testimony of the resurrection - the people who lived in the right place at the right time to know what really happened - it is necessary to look closely at the writings they accepted. What follows is a general overview only of Jesus' arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection as taken from the book of Matthew starting from chapter twenty-six and continuing to the end. Where noted, specific details from the other New Testament writings are referenced in so as to provide a more complete report of this important event in the order in which it happened. (Read all the referenced books if you want additional details.)


While dining with his disciples, Jesus revealed that one of them, Judas Iscariot, was about to betray him. At that time, the other disciples did not understand what Jesus meant by this, nor by his expeditious words to Judas who immediately left (John 13:26-30). Jesus then told his disciples, as he had told them before, how he was going to be separated from them, how they would be scattered, how they would see him no more, but then would see him again, and that the Father would send the Holy Spirit to teach and remind them of all that he had said to them (John 13:31-16:33).


Later that evening, at the foot of the Mount of Olives in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus gathered with his disciples as he often did. To this location Judas led a large detachment of armed soldiers, their commander, and officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They came to arrest Jesus (John 18:2-3). Jesus presented himself to them for arrest. Peter, still misunderstanding of Jesus' intent, attacked the high priest's servant Malchus (John 18:4-11). The disciples deserted Jesus and fled. Peter and John then returned to follow from behind as the arrest party led Jesus away (John 18:15).


Jesus was first brought before Annas, who was the father-in-law of the high priest Caiaphas (John 18:13), in the high priest's courtyard. Then Caiaphas questioned Jesus before the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law. Many accusations were made against Jesus, but the stories of the witnesses did not agree. Finally the high priest demanded by the highest of Jewish oaths that Jesus answer if he was "the Christ, the Son of God." To this, Jesus identified himself as God had to Moses; "I am" (Mark 14:62). The men guarding Jesus proceeded to strike him with their fists; spitting in his face, slapping, mocking, and beating him (Luke 22:63-65).


During the course of Jesus' interrogation and beating, Peter twice denied having any knowledge of Jesus or allegiance to him. Then a relative of the man whom Peter had earlier attacked challenged him by asking: "Didn't I see you with him in the olive grove?" (John 18:26). As Peter issued his third denial, immediately a rooster crowed and "The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: 'Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.'" Peter then "went outside and wept bitterly" (Luke 22:61-62).


While still early in the morning, the chief priests and elders came to the decision that Jesus must die. Judas Iscariot, full of remorse and seeing that Jesus was condemned to death, threw the thirty silver coins which he had been paid into the temple. Judas cited that he had betrayed innocent blood. In response, the chief priests told him, "That's your responsibility" and denied their own role in the affair. Judas then went out and hanged himself over a field in which his body likely fell and burst open (Acts 1:18).

The money which he had cast into the temple was picked up and eventually used to purchase that field where Judas had died. It would be designated as a burial area for foreigners.


Jesus was meanwhile led to the palace of Pilate, the Roman governor. Jesus was presented to him with more false accusations. The Jews insisted that Pilate try him because, officially, the death penalty had been removed from the Jews' power to grant. Pilate questioned Jesus and found nothing against him. But, learning he was from Galilee, had him sent to Herod, the Galilean governor who was also in Jerusalem at that time (Luke 23:5-11). Jesus was ridiculed and mocked by Herod and his soldiers though he, too, found no charge against him (Luke 23:15). Jesus was then returned to Pilate.


At that time, it was a custom of the Feast of Passover for the governor to release a prisoner as selected by the crowd. As urged on by the chief priests and elders, the crowd's shouts to release the insurrectionist Barabbas prevailed (Luke 23:19). Pilate verified the crowd's desire by asking, "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" (Matthew 27:22). The prevailing response was, "Crucify him!"

Jesus was flogged, and then taken into the Praetorium by the governor's soldiers. They stripped him, set a crown of thorns on his head, mocked him, spit on him and struck him in the face and "on the head again and again".

When he was finally brought out to be crucified, Pilate once more questioned Jesus in an attempt to free him (John 19:12). But the Jewish chief priests reaffirmed Jesus' death sentence as the proper defense of the Roman Caesar's authority (John 19:12-15). Pilate finally gave Jesus over to the soldiers who would carry out the crucifixion.


Leaving the city towards Golgotha, Jesus was made to carry his cross (John 19:17) until Simon from Cyrene was seized to carry it behind him (Mark 15:21). Jesus was crucified along with two robbers, and a sign was placed above his head identifying him as the king of the Jews. The soldiers divided up his clothes by casting lots (John 19:23,24). The chief priests, the teachers of the laws, the elders, the soldiers who crucified him, the robbers, and some others who passed by all mocked him and hurled insults at him. At one point, one of the two robbers acknowledged Jesus' divine kingship.

From about the sixth hour to the ninth hour, darkness fell over the land. The soldiers offered Jesus a sponge soaked with wine vinegar. Upon receiving it, he cried out at about the ninth hour, "It is finished" (John 19:30) and then died.


At that moment, there was a great earthquake. The centurion and others who stood below Jesus frightfully declared that he surely must have been righteous. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from the top down. Tombs broke open and, after Jesus' resurrection, many would see people whom had previously died.

As evening approached, the Jews asked Pilate to hasten the deaths of the crucifixion victims so that the bodies would not have to be left on the crosses during a special Sabbath. The soldiers then broke the legs of the two robbers. They did not break Jesus' legs, however, because they saw he was already dead. They confirmed this by piercing his side with a spear (deeply enough to release both blood and pleural fluids) (John 19:31-37).


Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent Jewish council member, requested possession of Jesus' body from Pilate. Pilate first reconfirmed Jesus' death, then granted his permission (Mark 15:43-45). Joseph and Nicodemus took the body, wrapped it in linen with at least seventy-five pounds of spices (John 19:39), placed it in Joseph's own new tomb, rolled a big stone in front of the entrance, and then went away. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joses watched all of this.


Meanwhile, the chief priests and Pharisees secured permission from Pilate for a guard of Roman soldiers to be posted. The stone was sealed at the tomb in order to prevent the disciples from stealing the body. When the special Sabbath was over, the women bought their spices to anoint Jesus' body (Mark 16:1) but rested on the next day, the regular Sabbath (Luke 23:56). In the dark morning hours of the following day, the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna (Luke 24:10), Salome and others (Mark 16:1) all headed out for the tomb.

There was a great earthquake at the tomb as an angel appeared and rolled back the stone from where Jesus lay. The guards were terrified and "became like dead men". Some of the guards went to the chief priests to report what had happened. The chief priests consulted with the elders and eventually gave the soldiers a large sum of money to report that Jesus' disciples had stolen the body while they were all asleep. The priests assured the guards that if the governor learned of the report, they would keep the guards out of trouble.


The women arrived at the tomb to find the stone rolled away and the guards absent. They entered the tomb and saw that Jesus' body was gone. Mary Magdalene ran to tell Peter and John (John 20:2). At the tomb there appeared two angels. One reminded the women of Christ's own words that prophesied his resurrection. Excited but frightened, the women left to go tell the disciples as Mary had.

Meanwhile, upon hearing Mary Magdalene's preliminary report, Peter and John ran to the tomb with Mary following (John 20:3-10). By the time Peter and John arrived, they went in to find only the burial cloth and linen strips lying there. Peter and John left to return home, but Mary remained outside the tomb crying. When she peered into the tomb, the two angels appeared. She turned around to find Christ standing behind her. He instructed her not to hold onto him, but to go back to the disciples (John 20:11-18). Jesus similarly appeared to the other women. The other disciples, however, did not believe any of the women as their words "seemed like nonsense" (Luke 24:11).


Two disciples, Cleopas and Simon, set out for Emmaus later that day discussing all that had transpired. Jesus came up and walked with them, though they were prevented from recognizing him at first. He spoke with them explaining what was written in the scriptures about the Christ. When he broke bread and gave it to them, they recognized him and he disappeared from their sight. They immediately returned to the other disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24:13-25).

That evening when the disciples, not including Thomas, were together behind locked doors (for fear of local authorities), Jesus suddenly appeared among them. He greeted them saying, "Peace be with you" (John 20:19-24). Though they were frightened, Jesus encouraged his disciples to touch him and to look at his hands and his feet. Jesus even ate in front of them.

One week later, when Thomas was with the disciples, Jesus reappeared before them all and showed himself to Thomas so that he too believed (John 20:25-29). Jesus showed himself a third time before seven of his disciples at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-25).


Over the course of forty days, Jesus appeared to the disciples (Acts 1:3), gave many proofs he was alive, spoke about the kingdom of God, and commissioned them to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you". The largest grouping he appeared before was numbered at five hundred (1 Corinthians 15:6).

At the Mount of Olives, Jesus was taken up into the sky until a cloud hid him from sight. Afterwards, two angels appeared. They informed the disciples that in the same manner in which Jesus left, he would one day return.



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NEXT: Was Jesus resurrected from the dead? - part four

See also:

What do we know about Jesus from non-biblical sources?

Do miracles really happen?

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The Gospel







The full story of the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection is spread out over several books and letters of the New Testament.

This is a chronological compilation for the convenience of discussion (not every detail has been included; and this is no substitute for reading the Bible itself).

1. The Last Supper
2. The arrest
3. The midnight trial
4. Peter's denial
5. Judas' fate
6. Trials continue
7. Sentence is passed
8. The crucifxion
9. Pronounced dead
10. The burial
11. The empty tomb
12. The resurrection
13. The appearances
14. The commissioning