The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

March 17, 2004 · updated December 13, 2023

Resurrection Tapestry
Detail of a tapestry of the Resurrection of Christ, based on a cartoon by the school of Raphael and created in the workshop of Pieter van Aelst in Brussels, 1524-31. Part of the Scuola Nuova series depicting episodes from the life of Christ. The Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani). Holly Hayes

A central Christian belief is the resurrection of Christ — that three days after Jesus was executed by crucifixion and buried in a stone tomb, he miraculously came back from the dead. This commemorated each spring on Easter, which features joyful hymns and readings of the resurrection story.

The resurrection of Christ is frequently mentioned in the New Testament. All four gospels include an account of the resurrection. In Acts, the central message preached by the apostles is the resurrection of Christ. In his first letter to the Corinthians, which dates to as early as 55 CE, Paul writes that the resurrection is of "first importance" and that "if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

According to the gospel accounts, one or more female followers of Jesus came to his tomb the Sunday morning after his death to anoint his body with spices. When they arrived, they were astonished to find the stone covering the entrance to the tomb had been rolled away, and the tomb was empty.[#1]

Each gospel varies somewhat on what happened next, but all generally agree that the women told the other disciples and their story was not believed. But the risen Jesus later appeared to the disciples, where he passed through a locked door yet demonstrated he was not a ghost by eating and allowing himself to be touched.[#2] He made several other appearances among various groups[#3] before ascending into heaven[#4].


[#1]: Mt 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-8; Lk 24:1-12; Jn 20:1-10.
[#2]. Mk 16:14; Lk 24:36-43; Jn 20:19-31, 1 Co 15:5.
[#3]: Two men on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-32); to Peter in Jerusalem (Lk 24:34; 1 Co 15:5); to seven disciples fishing (Jn 21:1-23); to 11 disciples on a mountain (Mt 28:16-20; Mk 16:15-18)); to more than 500 (1 Co 15:5); to James (1 Co 15:7); at the ascension (Lk 24:44-49; Ac 1:3-8).
[#4]: Mt 28:16-20; Mk 16:19-20; Lk 24:44-53.

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