Chapter 9 of "Contemplations on the Resurrection" written by H.H. Pope Shenouda III, found here: http://tasbeha.org/content/hh_books/Ressurec/index.html
Contemplations On The Resurrection
The first thing we observe is the modesty of the Lord when He
allowed His crucifixion and the insults of the Jews against Him
to occur publicly before all the people. At the same time He
made His glorified resurrection in private and a secret not seen
He did not rise in glory before all men in order that He might be
compensated for the insults and the reproach caused to Him
during the crucifixion but He rose in secret.
He chose the dawn to be the time of His resurrection because at
that time all human were sleeping.
He chose the dawn in order that no one might see Him during
His glorious resurrection.
He was far from the dazzling views of His resurrection as it
happened on His birthday.
Then, He appeared to Mary Magdalene, to the other Mary, to
Peter, to the women, to the two of Emmaus, to the Eleven, to
Saul from Tarsus and to some of the brothers .... to the
favourites, to His own but not to those who formerly gloated on
In spite of all that, the resurrection which took place in
secret troubled the Jews and caused to them terror beyond
measure. They made great efforts to oppose it or at least to
prevent people from believing in it .... but in vain.
When they found that they had failed in preventing the
occurrence of the resurrection by setting the guards, the big
stone and the seals, they wished to prevent it from being
conveyed to men in another way, by telling lies, with
bribery and by rumours.
When their trials failed and they could not prevent the news of
the resurrection by their false means and when the news spread
all over the world through the preaching of the disciples they
resorted to another stratagem.
They tried to prevent preaching the resurrection by
arresting the disciples, flogging them, putting them in jails
and making complaints to the governors against them.
All the human plans done to prevent men from believing in the
It was true when the Bible said " No weapon formed against
you shall prosper. " (Is 54:17)
What was the secret of this great resurrection? Its secret
was that for the first time and also for the last time a person
could rise from death by himself. He was raised by no one.
Indeed, this occurrence terrified them.
The Lord Jesus Christ has fulfilled what He said about Himself.
"No one can take it from Him." " I have power to lay it down,
and I have power to take it again." (John 10:18)
The powerful Nazarene has triumphed over them. That
Nazarene whom death could not conquer.
That Nazarene who trod death down and rose at the time
He had fixed and according to His former prophecies. No
one could oppose His resurrection. But why didn't Christ
appear to them after the resurrection? Wasn't it suitable to
convince them to believe in Him!?
He did not appear to them because they were unworthy of
Him... Even if He had appeared to them, they would not have
believed in him.
This point reminds us of what Abraham, the Father of Fathers
had said to the rich man who was contemporary with poor
Lazarus "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither
will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead"(Luke
Moreover, the Lord Jesus Christ made many other miracles
before them and they did not believe in Him.
When He healed the born blind they said to the man "We know
that this Man is a sinner." (John 9:24)
During the crucifixion, darkness came over all the land; the
earth shook and the rocks split; the curtain of the temple was
torn into two from top to bottom and some of the holy people
who had died were raised to life and in spite of all these
occurrences they did not believe in Him.
He did not appear to them because they were not only
unworthy of Him but also because they had no faith. Then,
why did He not appear to other men?
The Lord Jesus Christ left a field for faith about which Paul, the
apostle, said " ... faith is the substance of things hoped for, the
evidence of things not seen. " (Heb 11:1)
If the resurrection had been something visible it would have
been added to the circle of viewing and not to that of faith
because faith means: "to be certain of what we do not see."
It was enough that when He appeared to the rulers, all men
believed in Him through them.
As for faith, all men could not bear this matter, so, when
Christ appeared in His resurrection, He did not appear in
His glory, even to His own, because they could not bear it.
With the two of Emmaus, who did not know Him at first, He
spoke to them gradually.
With Mary Magdalene, He hid His personality that she thought
Him to be the gardener; then He revealed Himself bit by bit.
As for Saul, from Tarsus; when Jesus appeared to him in some
of His glory, his eyes were blinded by the radiant light of
Christ's face, then He healed him.
Also, when Jesus appeared in some of His glory to Saint John,
the beloved one, he fell to Christ's feet as if he were dead. The
Lord raised him and told him not to be afraid.
Indeed, who can bear seeing Christ in His glory? But as for
His modesty, it was enough for Him to make Himself
He will appear to them with His glory in the second coming
and then they will say to the mountains, "Cover us!" and to
the hills, "Fall on us!" and all nations on earth will mourn.
With the spirit and power of the resurrection Christianity
began its glorious history.
The disciples went forward into a new epoch of power. " And
with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection
of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. " (Acts
All the attempts they had done to smash Christ, He Himself
smashed by His resurrection.
Even the devil himself was completely destroyed by this
The Christ who conquered death and who said " ... I have
overcome the world. ... " (John 16:33) is able to do everything.
He can always lead us in His victorious procession.
This triumphant, the rising from the dead, can lead a group of
the triumphant ones and give them from His grace and from His
Thus, the defenceless Christianity could face Judaism and other
ancient religion. It, also, could stand firm before pagan
philosophies, Roman authorities, conspiracies, judgments and
Christianity remained persisting and moved forward under the
power of Christ, the rising from the dead, till it changed the
Roman nation to a Christian one.
Paganism disappeared from the world and the whole land
became for God and His Christ.
Also, the resurrection of the body was a sign of rising from
About this matter, the apostle said "And you He made alive,
who were dead in trespasses and sins. ", "and raised us up
together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in
Christ Jesus, " (Eph 2:1,6)
May we all live under the power of the resurrection. This
resurrection which changed the disciples and made the empty
tomb a sign of perpetual triumph.
This resurrection which was the beginning of the power in the
life of the first church.
Some Of The Occurrences Of The Resurrection
The Lord Jesus Christ, glory be to Him, did not stop work for
the benefit of humanity even when His body was in the tomb.
He has done work between the crucifixion and the
God, by His resurrection, sanctified the human nature which is
liable to death and made it liable to the resurrection.
Before the resurrection, God, also, worked for our sake
even when His body was on the tomb.
By means of death His spirit was separated from His body
but His divinity never separated from His soul or His body.
His spirit, united with His divine nature, could do a
wonderful rescuing action for the sake of those who are
sleeping on hope.
With His death He paid the price of sin and bought us by His
blood. So, after He redeemed humanity, it was His right to
carry the sleeping from Hades to Paradise and it was so.
With His spirit, united with divinity, He went down to Hades to
say the good news to the sleeping there on hope. " ... He also
first descended into the lower parts of the earth? When He
ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to
men." (Eph 4:8).
He opened the gate of paradise and carried to Him the
righteous who were waiting in Hades. With them, He also
let in the right robber to paradise.
Indeed, how trustful He was when He said to Saint John, the
visionary, "And I have the keys of Hades and of Death." (Rev
1:18) (Phil 4:3)
Indeed, blessed are those whose names are written in the
book of life because death has no authority on them.
They may stay there for a time, as Jonah remained in the belly
of the huge fish (whale) then He rescued him safely without any
Thus, God brought out those who were in Hades and by His
authority He let them into Paradise.
This great deed was done by god in secret. Heaven praised
God. The sayings of the prophets were accomplished and
in secret, also, the Lord rose from the dead.
His spirit, united with His divinity, came and united with the
body which was united with divinity, then, He was raised by the
power of His divinity and went out of the tomb with its seals.
The Women Carrying Spices And Perfumes
It was something strange that the women took spices and
perfumes and went to the tomb while these perfumes do not
agree with believing in the resurrection.
But the Lord took interest in their love and treated the
defect found in their faith.
Did they carry the perfumes for the body which was in the
tomb? Hadn't they the faith that Christ had risen and left the
Thus, the good tidings of the angel revealed the same meaning
when he said to the two Marys "I know that you seek Jesus who
was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. "
The same words of reproach were said to the women, who
were carrying the perfumes and the spices, but with clearer style
"Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here,
but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still
in Galilee, saying, 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the
hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise
again.' And they remembered His words." (Luke 24:5-8)
Yes, He, formerly, said that He would rise from the dead. He
did not only say those words to the women but many a time, he
said them to His disciples also.
If the Lord informed the disciples of His resurrection and
they did not believe Him, how much the more would those
The Disciples' Doubts
The resurrection of Christ was an occurrence never happened
before as He rose by Himself without any help from others and
His strange words, never said by anyone before, were verified.
" I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it
from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it
down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have
received from My Father." (John 10:17-18).
Who dared say such words except Christ? So, His resurrection
distracted the minds. It was above intelligence especially after
the events of the cross and the pains and the insults directed to
Him. And after the potency and authority with which the Jews
Thus, it was not easy for the disciples to believe in the
resurrection while they were afraid and hiding in the attic.
On the cross, He said "It is finished" which meant that the
redemption was completed and the price of sin was paid.
But, there was another work for Him to complete. It was a
work special for patronage.
Before Him, there were righteous persons who were troubled
and in need of soothing.
What would He do to strengthen their weakness and to banish
their doubts and fears?
He did not wish to blame these persons kindly for their
weakness or for their doubts or for their ingratitude but He
came to soothe them.
As He formerly said that He had not come to judge the people
but to save them; how much the more His own who were in the
world, He now showed them the full extent of His love. (John
Saint John said about this love "We love Him because He first
loved us." (1 John 4:19).
He did the same thing with Thomas who doubted in His
resurrection and insisted on putting his finger in the places of
the wounds. He did not blame him kindly for his doubts but
tackled the matter with him.
Jesus responded to Thomas and let him put his finger to be sure
of the places of the wounds.
The same thing happened with Peter, with Mary Magdalene and
with the two from Emmaus.
The Lord wished to strengthen the faith of those persons
who would carry faith all over the world and it was so.
Thus, the matter was not limited by His resurrection, but there
happened many appearances afterwards.
He stayed with the disciples for forty days during which " ...
after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by
them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to
the kingdom of God. to whom He also presented Himself
alive" (Acts 1:3)