Chapter 27: “He Is Risen!”

The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, (1979), 190–96

Map Chp. 27

The Week of the Atoning Sacrifice





Seventh Day


Guards Are Placed at the Tomb



The Resurrected Christ Appears to Men


The First Day of the Week


The Tomb Is Opened

Mary Magdalene and Other Women Visit the Tomb


28:1, 5–7




Mary Tells Peter and John




Peter, Mary, and John Visit the Tomb

The Savior Appears to Mary

Mary Tells the Apostles



16:10, 11





Christ Appears to the Other Women

28:9, 10


Chief Priests Told of Resurrection by Guards



Two Disciples See the Savior While En Route to Emmaus


16:12, 13



Interpretive Commentary

(27-1) Matthew 28:2–4, 11–15. What Was the Soldiers’ Reaction to the Events of the Day of Resurrection?

“Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, had passed, and the night preceding the dawn of the most memorable Sunday in history was well nigh spent, while the Roman guard kept watch over the sealed sepulchre wherein lay the body of the Lord Jesus. While it was yet dark, the earth began to quake; an angel of the Lord descended in glory, rolled back the massive stone from the portal of the tomb, and sat upon it.

His countenance was brilliant as the lightning, and his raiment was as the driven snow for whiteness. The soldiers, paralyzed with fear, fell to the earth as dead men. When they had partially recovered from their fright, they fled from the place in terror. Even the rigor of Roman discipline, which decreed summary death to every soldier who deserted his post, could not deter them. Moreover, there was nothing left for them to guard; the seal of authority had been broken, the sepulchre was open, and empty.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 678.)

(27-2) Matthew 28:1–4. What Was the Time of the Resurrection? When Did the Savior Emerge from the Tomb?

“Our Lord definitely predicted His resurrection from the dead on the third day, (Matt. 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Mark 9:31; 10:34; Luke 9:22; 13:32; 18:33), and the angels at the tomb (Luke 24:7), and the risen Lord in Person (Luke 24:46) verified the fulfillment of the prophecies; and apostles so testified in later years (Acts 10:40; 1 Cor. 15:4). This specification of the third day must not be understood as meaning after three full days. The Jews began their counting of the daily hours with sunset; therefore the hour before sunset and the hour following belonged to different days. Jesus died and was interred during Friday afternoon. His body lay in the tomb, dead, during part of Friday (first day), throughout Saturday, or as we divide the days, from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday, (second day), and part of Sunday (third day). We know not at what hour between Saturday sunset and Sunday dawn He rose.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 697.)

(27-3) John 20:1. What Is the Significance of “the First Day of the Week”?

“Because Jesus came forth from the grave on the first day of the week, to commemorate that day and to keep in remembrance the glorious reality of the resurrection, the ancient apostles, as guided by the Spirit, changed the Sabbath to Sunday. That this change had divine approval we know from latter-day revelation, in which Deity speaks of ‘the Lord’s day’ as such and sets forth what should and should not be done on that day. (D. & C. 59:9–17.)” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:841.)

(27-4) Matthew 26:6–13. Was Mary Magdalene the Same Who Anointed Jesus at Simon the Pharisee’s House (Luke 7:36–50), or the Same Woman Referred to as Mary of Bethany?

“Mary Magdalene became one of the closest friends Christ had among women; her devotion to Him as her Healer and as the One whom she adored as the Christ was unswerving; she stood close by the cross while other women tarried afar off in the time of His mortal agony; she was among the first at the sepulchre on the resurrection morning, and was the first mortal to look upon and recognize a resurrected Being—the Lord whom she had loved with all the fervor of spiritual adoration. To say that this woman, chosen from among women as deserving of such distinctive honors, was once a fallen creature, her soul seared by the heat of unhallowed lust, is to contribute to the perpetuating of an error for which there is no excuse. Nevertheless the false tradition, arising from early and unjustifiable assumption, that this noble woman, distinctively a friend of the Lord, is the same who, admittedly a sinner, washed and anointed the Savior’s feet in the house of Simon the Pharisee and gained the boon of forgiveness through contrition, has so tenaciously held its place in the popular mind through the centuries, that the name, Magdalene, has come to be a generic designation for women who fall from virtue and afterward repent. We are not considering whether the mercy of Christ could have been extended to such a sinner as Mary of Magdala is wrongly reputed to have been; man cannot measure the bounds nor fathom the depths of divine forgiveness; and if it were so that this Mary and the repentant sinner who ministered to Jesus as He sat at the Pharisee’s table were one and the same, the question would stand affirmatively answered, for that woman who had been a sinner was forgiven. We are dealing with the scriptural record as a history, and nothing said therein warrants the really repellent though common imputation of unchastity to the devoted soul of Mary Magdalene.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pp. 264–65.)

Jesus appears to Mary

(27-5) Mark 16:9–11; John 20:11–18. Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

“How much there is incident to the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord which ennobles and exalts faithful women. They wept at the cross, sought to care for his wounded and lifeless body, and came to his tomb to weep and worship for their friend and Master. And so it is not strange that we find a woman, Mary of Magdala, chosen and singled out from all the disciples, even including the apostles, to be the first mortal to see and bow in the presence of a resurrected being. Mary, who had been healed of much and who loved much, saw the risen Christ!”(McConkie, DNTC, 1:843.)

(27-6) John 20:17. Why Did the Lord Forbid Mary to Touch Him?

“One may wonder why Jesus had forbidden Mary Magdalene to touch Him, and then, so soon after, had permitted other women to hold Him by the feet as they bowed in reverence. We may assume that Mary’s emotional approach had been prompted more by a feeling of personal yet holy affection than by an impulse of devotional worship such as the other women evinced. Though the resurrected Christ manifested the same friendly and intimate regard as He had shown in the mortal state toward those with whom He had been closely associated, He was no longer one of them in the literal sense. There was about Him a divine dignity that forbade close personal familiarity. To Mary Magdalene Christ had said: ‘Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.’ If the second clause was spoken in explanation of the first, we have to infer that no human hand was to be permitted to touch the Lord’s resurrected and immortalized body until after He had presented Himself to the Father. It appears reasonable and probable that between Mary’s impulsive attempt to touch the Lord, and the action of the other women who held Him by the feet as they bowed in worshipful reverence, Christ did ascend to the Father, and that later He returned to earth to continue His ministry in the resurrected state.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 682.)

(27-7) John 20:17. What Is the Significance of Jesus’ Words “I Ascend unto My Father, and Your Father; and to My God, and Your God”?

“Such careful choice of words was in keeping with his unvarying custom of maintaining a distinction between himself and other men. He was the Son of God, literally; other men had mortal fathers. Thus, for instance, he was careful to say. ‘I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God and your God’ (John 20:17), not unto our Father and our God.” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:413.)

(27-8) Matthew 28:1, 5–7; Mark 15:47; 16:1. Why Did Mary Magdalene and Other Faithful Women Set Out to Visit the Tomb?

“At the earliest indication of dawn, the devoted Mary Magdalene and other faithful women set out for the tomb, bearing spices and ointments which they had prepared for the further anointing of the body of Jesus. Some of them had been witnesses of the burial, and were conscious of the necessary haste with which the corpse had been wrapped with spicery and laid away by Joseph and Nicodemus, just before the beginning of the Sabbath; and now these adoring women came early to render loving service in a more thorough anointing and external embalmment of the body.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 678.)

(27-9) Mark 16:11, 13; Luke 24:10, 11. Why Didn’t the Apostles Believe the Account of Mary Magdalene and the Other Women?

“Mary Magdalene and the other women told the wonderful story of their several experiences to the disciples, but the brethren could not credit their words, which ‘seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.’ After all that Christ had taught concerning His rising from the dead on that third day, the apostles were unable to accept the actuality of the occurrence; to their minds the resurrection was some mysterious and remote event, not a present possibility. There was neither precedent nor analogy for the stories these women told—of a dead person returning to life, with a body of flesh and bones, such as could be seen and felt—except the instances of the young man of Nain, the daughter of Jairus, and the beloved Lazarus of Bethany, between whose cases of restoration to a renewal of mortal life and the reported resurrection of Jesus they recognized essential differences. The grief and the sense of irreparable loss which had characterized the yesterday Sabbath, were replaced by profound perplexity and contending doubts on this first day of the week. But while the apostles hesitated to believe that Christ had actually risen, the women, less skeptical, more trustful, knew, for they had both seen Him and heard His voice, and some of them had touched His feet.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pp. 682–83.)

(27-10) Matthew 27:62–69; 28:1–4, 11–15. What Attempts Were Made to Discredit the Resurrection?

“The inconsistent assertion that Christ had not risen but that His body had been stolen from the tomb by the disciples, has been sufficiently treated in the text. The falsehood is its own refutation. Unbelievers of later date, recognizing the palpable absurdity of this gross attempt at misrepresentation, have not hesitated to suggest other hypotheses, each of which is conclusively untenable. Thus, the theory based upon the impossible assumption that Christ was not dead when taken from the cross, but was in a state of coma or swoon, and that He was afterward resuscitated, disproves itself when considered in connection with recorded facts. The spear-thrust of the Roman soldier would have been fatal, even if death had not already occurred. The body was taken down, handled, wrapped and buried by members of the Jewish council, who cannot be thought of as actors in the burial of a living man; and so far as subsequent resuscitation is concerned, Edersheim (vol. 2, p. 626) trenchantly remarks: ‘Not to speak of the many absurdities which this theory involves, it really shifts—if we acquit the disciples of complicity—the fraud upon Christ Himself.’ A crucified person, removed from the cross before death and subsequently revived, could not have walked with pierced and mangled feet on the very day of his resuscitation, as Jesus did on the road to Emmaus. Another theory that has had its day is that of unconscious deception on the part of those who claimed to have seen the resurrected Christ, such persons having been victims of subjective but unreal visions conjured up by their own excited and imaginative condition. The independence and marked individuality of the several recorded appearings of the Lord disprove the vision theory. Such subjective visual illusions as are predicated by this hypothesis, presuppose a state of expectancy on the part of those who think they see; but all the incidents connected with the manifestations of Jesus after His resurrection were directly opposed to the expectations of those who were made witnesses of His resurrected state.

“The foregoing instances of false and untenable theories regarding the resurrection of our Lord are cited as examples of the numerous abortive attempts to explain away the greatest miracle and the most glorious fact of history. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is attested by evidence more conclusive than that upon which rests our acceptance of historical events in general. Yet the testimony of our Lord’s rising from the dead is not founded on written pages. To him who seeks in faith and sincerity shall be given an individual conviction which shall enable him to reverently confess as exclaimed the enlightened apostle of old: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus, who is God the Son, is not dead. ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth.’ (Job 19:25.)” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pp. 698–99.)

(27-11) Mark 16:12. Why Did the Lord Withhold His Identity When He Appeared to Cleopas and His Companion on the Road to Emmaus?

“Why did the risen Lord take this means of appearing to Cleopas and his companion (perhaps Luke, since it is he who records the account)? Was it to quote and interpret the Messianic prophecies ‘beginning at Moses and all the prophets’; Such could have been done under more effective circumstances, and for that matter, Luke does not even record the explanations given. Why did Jesus keep his identity hidden? Why walk and talk, perhaps for hours, along the dusty lanes of Palestine?

“Obviously it was to show what a resurrected being is like. He was teaching the gospel as only he could, teaching a living sermon, a sermon that was to be climaxed shortly in an upper room in the presence of his apostles. See Luke 24:36–44.

“Jesus walked down a Judean lane, walked for hours and taught the truths of the gospel, exactly as he had during three and a half years of his mortal ministry. So much did he seem like any other wayfaring teacher, in demeanor, in dress, in speech, in physical appearance, in conversation, that they did not recognize him as the Jesus whom they assumed was dead. ‘Abide with us,’ they said, as they would have done to Peter or John. ‘Come in and eat and sleep; you must be tired and hungry.’ They thought he was a mortal man. Could anyone devise a more perfect way to teach what a resurrected being is like when his glory is retained within him? Men are men whether mortal or immortal, and there need be no spiritualizing away of the reality of the resurrection, not after this Emmaus road episode. See Mark 16:9–11.” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:850.)

(27-12) Luke 24:13. How Far Was Emmaus from Jerusalem, and Where Was the Village Located?

Emmaus was threescore furlongs—about 7½ miles from Jerusalem. The site of the village of Emmaus has not yet been located. (See Smith, A Dictionary of the Bible, rev. ed., s.v. “Emmaus.”)

He Is Risen!

(27-13) Though the Sepulchre Was Made Sure, Nothing Could Keep the Savior from Coming Forth

After the chief priests and the Pharisees obtained guards from Pilate, they went and “made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch” (Matthew 27:66), with the intent that the disciples might not come during the night, steal away the body of Jesus, and then say to the people that the Savior was risen from the dead. The Jewish leaders realized that such a witness of the resurrection would be more powerful than testimonies that were given while Jesus walked in mortality. They knew that if the disciples told the people that Jesus was risen from the dead, this would be a capstone to the Savior’s ministry and would draw men to him and to his gospel. To forestall just such a result, Roman guards were obtained from Pilate, and the sepulchre was made sure. (See Matthew 27:62–66.)

But the plans of God were not to be frustrated, for in the early hours of the morning, before it was light, two angels of the Lord descended from the heavens to roll away the stone from before the door of the sepulchre. (Matthew 28:2, 4, Inspired Version.) “And for fear of him [them] the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.” (Matthew 28:3, 4.)

(27-14) What Acts Incident to the Resurrection of Our Lord Tend to Ennoble and Exalt Mary Magdalene and the Other Faithful Women?

“How much there is incident to the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord which ennobles and exalts faithful women. They wept at the cross, sought to care for his wounded and lifeless body, and came to his tomb to weep and worship for their friend and Master. And so it is not strange that we find a woman, Mary of Magdala, chosen and singled out from all the disciples, even including the apostles, to be the first mortal to see and bow in the presence of a resurrected being. Mary, who had been healed of much and who loved much, saw the risen Christ! …

“Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene and then to other women. To Mary the mother of Joses, to Joanna, to Salome the mother of James and John, and to other unnamed women, the two angels announced the resurrection, and sent them to tell Peter and the other disciples. As they went, Jesus appeared and greeted them with the familiar ‘All hail.’ And so again it was women who were honored with a visitation from their friend the resurrected Lord.” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:843, 846.)

Points to Ponder

As Did the Two Disciples Who Walked on the Road to Emmaus, Have You Experienced a Burning Within?

(27-15) … As You Listened to Inspirational Singing and Sublime Testimonies?

“One day, two men were walking near Emmaus, a town not far from Jerusalem, and a man suddenly appeared by their side. They did not recognize him. After he left them, they said, ‘Did not our heart burn within us … ?’ (Luke 24:32.) Luke tells us about that incident, after he had inquired of many people who had had some intimacy with Jesus.

“I think that there are many in this congregation, and I hope many who have been listening over radio and television who have had their hearts ‘burn within them’ as they have listened not only to the inspirational singing, but to the sublime testimonies, and I hope as their hearts have burned within them, that they realized the message that went into their hearts. I hope they have an inkling, at least, of the divine truth that they are sons of God, and that that burning within them was just a touch of harmony between them and the infinite, the Spirit of God which will enlighten our minds, quicken our understandings, and bring all things to our remembrance.” (David O. McKay in CR, Apr. 1960, pp. 121–22. Italics added.)

(27-16) … Has a Teacher of the Gospel Opened to You the Scriptures?

“Never was her teaching so dynamic nor its impact more everlasting as one Sunday morning when she sadly announced to us the passing of a classmate’s mother. We had missed Billy that morning, but knew not the reason for his absence. The lesson featured the Theme, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Midway through the lesson, our teacher closed the manual and opened our eyes and our ears and our hearts to the glory of God. She asked, ‘How much money do we have in our class party fund?’

“Depression days prompted a proud answer: ‘Four dollars and seventy-five cents.’

“Then ever so gently she suggested: “Billy’s family is hard-pressed and grief-stricken. What would you think of the possibility of visiting the family members this morning and giving to them your fund?’

“Ever shall I remember the tiny band walking those three city blocks, entering Billy’s home, greeting him, his brother, sisters, and father. Noticeably absent was his mother. Always I shall treasure the tears which glistened in the eyes of all as the white envelope containing our precious party fund passed from the delicate hand of our teacher to the needy hand of a heartbroken father. We fairly skipped our way back to the chapel. Our hearts were lighter than they had ever been: our joy more full; our understanding more profound. A God-inspired teacher had taught her boys and girls an eternal lesson of divine truth. ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

“Well could we have echoed the words of the disciples on the way to Emaeus [sic]: ‘Did not our hearts burn within us … while [she] opened to us the scriptures?’ (Luke 24:32.)” (Thomas S. Monson in CR, Apr. 1970, p. 99. Italics added.)

(27-17) … As You Received the Light, and Walked in the Light?

“I say, our mission is not only to proclaim, but to live as witnesses who have received the truth, and who love the truth. And if we live the truth, my brethren and sisters, no man can come within the circle of our influence without being impressed with the fact—somewhat after the same spirit as the disciples, when the Master met them on the way to Emmaus, and when they walked with him. The Scripture says, ‘Their eyes were holden,’ and when he came in and broke bread with them, then they beheld, and it was revealed unto them positively who it was. Then, in counseling with them, they said, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked with us?’ So it will be with you, so it will be with me, so it will be with every man who, having received the light, walks in the light.” (Alonzo A. Hinckley in CR, Apr. 1917, pp. 93–94. Italics added.)

(27-18) … As You Contemplated His Life and Mission, as You Received the Humble and Solemn Witness That He Lives?

“In our hearts we feel much the same as the two who walked unbeknown to them with the resurrected Christ, Cleopas and another, who, while walking to Emmaus at the time of the resurrection, were discussing Jesus as they journeyed. The Master joined them and opened the scriptures to their eyes. Impressed, they asked him to tarry with them as they stopped to be refreshed. …

“Later their eyes were open and they knew him, but he had vanished. Said they: ‘Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way. … ?’ (Luke 24:25, 32.)

“As we contemplate his life and mission, our hearts burn within us, for we know that he lives.” (Alvin R. Dyer in CR, Apr. 1966, p. 125. Italics added.)

(27-19) Jesus the Christ, Our Savior and Redeemer, Is Risen!

“I bear witness to you that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world—the very Son of God.

“He was born the babe of Bethlehem.

“He lived and ministered among men.

“He was crucified on Calvary.

“His friends deserted him.

“His closest associates did not fully understand his mission, and they doubted. One of the most trusted denied knowing him.

“A pagan governor, struggling with his conscience after consenting to Jesus’ death, caused a sign to be erected over the cross proclaiming him ‘Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.’ (John 19:19.)

“He asked forgiveness for his tormentors and then willingly gave up his life.

“His body was laid in a borrowed tomb.

“An immense stone was placed over the opening.

“In the minds of his stunned followers over and over echoed some of his last words, ‘… be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’ (Ibid., 16:33.)

“On the third day there was a great earthquake. The stone was rolled back from the door of the tomb. Some of the women, among the most devoted of his followers, came to the place with spices ‘and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.’ (Luke 24:3.)

“Angels appeared and said simply, ‘Why seek ye the living among the dead?

“‘He is not here, but is risen.’ (Ibid., 24:5–6.)

‘There is nothing in history to equal that dramatic announcement: ‘He is not here, but is risen.’” (Ezra Taft Benson in CR, Apr. 1964, p. 119.)

The resurrection of Jesus has been proclaimed as one of the best attested of all events in history.

From what you have presently learned, identify five reasons why this is so. In what ultimate way is its attestation greater than any secular event?

The empty tomb of our Savior is the most significant of all time, for it was death that died, not Jesus. The Prince of Peace, having fulfilled all things, is the Prince of life for all mankind and of eternal life to those who will follow him.