By Mel Mantanona
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the pinnacle of Christianity. His resurrection is the definitive proof of his divinity and it is the fulfillment of the promises of both the Old Testament and of those promised by Jesus during his earthly life. Let us journey through the first accounts of the resurrection specifically with Mary Magdalene, Peter, and Thomas.
Early Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and other women hurried to the tomb of Jesus with spices to finish anointing Jesus’ body. Upon finding the stone rolled away, they found the tomb to be empty. The angel of the Lord appeared before them telling them that Jesus wasn’t there.
Not long after the tomb was found to be empty, Jesus started appearing to people. First, he appeared to the faithful one whom he drove seven demons out of, Mary Magdalene. He told her to go tell his brethren about him. Mary Magdalene moved with haste to tell the disciples about the empty tomb and the Risen Lord, however, most of the disciples didn’t believe her.
At this, Peter and John run to the tomb to see for themselves. John gets there first, but instead of going in, he waits for Peter. Letting Peter enter the tomb first is more than a polite gesture. John waits in order to give respect to the preeminent honor and authority bestowed upon Peter when he was given the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Mt 16:17-19).
Jesus appeared to Peter next. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains Peter to be the first apostle to have seen Jesus so that he could help strengthen the faith of his brothers.
Upon eating breakfast with the disciples after appearing to them by the Sea of Tiberias (John 21), Jesus asks Peter if Peter loves him. He answers yes. Jesus does this twice more, totaling to three times. What happens here is that Peter is reaffirming his love for Jesus as a personal restitution for the three times Peter denied him before his Passion.
In John 20:19-23, Jesus appears to the disciples and gives them the power to forgive sins. Thomas, not present during this time, refused to believe the other disciples when they claimed boldly to have seen the Lord.
Thomas said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” This is where he gets his renowned nickname “Doubting Thomas.” Much to Thomas’ surprise, a week later Jesus appears again to the disciples and after greeting them with peace, he said directly to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing”. An astonished Thomas proclaims, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus says in reply, “You have believed because you have seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20:24-29).
In these accounts, we see the miracle of the resurrection unfold before our very eyes. There is much to rejoice about – He is risen! Alleluia!
Information from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament