No doubt a headline like this would have us doing a double-take. The undead...walking among us? It defies logic. It's an impossibility. We've all seen horror movies with this scenario, but it could never happen in real life.
The truth is that it did happen. And because of it, the fate of the world changed.
After Jesus was executed, a rich man named Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for permission to bury the dead man. Joseph took Jesus‘s lifeless body, wrapped it up in clean linen, and placed it in a new tomb that he had purchased for his own burial. Finally, he rolled a giant stone in the entrance to seal the grave.
Meanwhile, the religious officials who petitioned Pilate to have Jesus killed were suspicious that one of his followers might try to steal the body. If the followers succeeded, then they could claim that Jesus rose again, and his fame as a deity would spread. It wasn’t enough, they reasoned, to kill the man; they also had to kill his reputation. So they asked Pilate to post guards in front of the tomb, and Pilate agreed.
That put the religious officials at ease. The dead body now lay wrapped head-to-toe in grave clothes, inside a tomb, behind a heavy stone, and under 24-hour patrol by vigilant Roman soldiers. Jesus wasn’t going anywhere.
Of course, they hadn’t counted on Jesus’s other followers...the heavenly angels. The Bible says that an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, and with a violent earthquake, rolled back the stone and sat on it. The guards who saw it were literally petrified—they were gripped with such mortal fear that they became “like dead men.” (Matthew 28:4)
All of this was witnessed by some women who had followed Jesus when He was alive. They were there to finish preparing Jesus's dead body. They knew that Joseph hadn’t had time to do the job properly in accordance with Jewish custom. Dead bodies were supposed to be washed, then anointed with spices before being wrapped and laid to rest. So they had come to the tomb with their spices and cloths. But before they could get any closer, they they were met by an intimidating heavenly being—who began to speak to them.
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5)
If the angel hadn’t been so terrifying, the women might have had the courage to correct him. After all, they had seen Jesus die.
The angel continued. “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” (Matthew 28:6)
The angel was referring to a moment when the Jews had urged Jesus for a sign to prove that he was the Messiah. Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” (John 2:19) And that’s what Jesus had done. He had brought life back to his own dead body.
After his resurrection, Jesus appeared many times to his followers and to others, who now could see with their own eyes that Jesus was who he had always claimed and that resurrection was a real thing. Jesus revealed himself not as the “undead,” but as the “re-alive“—or more accurately, the ”still-living.” He had exercised his power over life and death. You and I do not have the power to do anything after our death, but Jesus does! And he shows us that he will bring his own people back to life.
And we won't be the first. At the time of his resurrection, Jesus brought some of the faithful back to life with him. “The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’s resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.“ (Matthew 27:52-53) This is why Jesus was called the “firstborn from the dead“ (Revelation 1:5), since there are now many believers who have been raised to life. Because of this miracle, many people came to believe in Jesus as the Messiah. Even if they didn’t personally witness his miracles, those people saw the dead return to life. Because of the authority of Jesus, death no longer has any finality. Only Jesus has the power to bring the dead to life again. No one—not Buddha, Mohammad, or Confucius—could ever claim to do that.
"For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his." (Romans 6:5)
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have no reason to fear death. You will live again!