He Is Risen: Depictions of the Resurrection

He Is Risen: Depictions of the Resurrection

April 12, 2020 – As many Christians around the world are celebrating Easter it is an important time to reflect on the story of our Savior. The story of the resurrection is one of paramount significance in the Christian world, it is the foundation of our faith. The resurrection teaches us about God’s saving grace through his son Jesus.

When Jesus of Nazareth arose from the dead, after being crucified on the cross, he established his identity as the Son of God, that he was about his fathers work through redemption, atonement, sacrifice, reconciliation and ultimately our salvation. The story of the resurrection is not metaphorical or an allegory. It is the literal, physical raising of Jesus from the dead.

This is something we can trace historically through many written accounts. Over 500 people saw him,  many of whom would live to the end of the first century. They had no reason to lie about this and many had good reason to not tell the truth considering all the political upheaval Christianity was causing at the time. Unlike the pagan and cult religions at the time, Jesus was history not mythical. Scholars and historians can trace his time, place, his birth, his life, miracles, death, changed lives and new life. In Jesus Christ and through his triumphant resurrection God entered time.

“Quem Christus mortuus est Christi resurrectionem confitemur, donec venias iterum”

Jesus was arrested, tried and convicted by Pontius Pilate of falsely claiming to be a king. He was tortured, whipped, had a crown of thorns placed on his head. He was paraded through the town as people mocked and jeered and spit on him. He was crucified, nailed on a cross between two thieves who had also been crucified. After his death, Jesus’ body was wrapped in linens and placed in a tomb with a large stone that rolled across the opening. On the third day, which was a Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and another Mary came to the tomb and found it totally empty. Sitting on the stone that had been moved and was no longer covering the tomb, was an angel of of the Lord. The angel said unto them “do not be afraid because Jesus had risen.” As the women left to alert the disciples, Jesus Christ met them and showed them his hands, that still had the holes from the nails in them.

The Resurrection was Prophesied in the Old Testament

Some scholars and historians have tried to claim the resurrection story was made up by Peter or by Paul. This overlooks some of the prophesies in Job, the Psalms and the Book of Daniel. In fact, Jesus told his disciples about the truth of the Old Testament and His resurrection while on the road to Emmaus:

“Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” He asked them. Then, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:13-27).

Even King David prophesied about the One who was yet to come, saying:

“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay” (Psalm 16:9-10).

The Book of Job, one of the oldest in the Old Testament also speaks to the hope of the resurrection:

“Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me” (Job 19:24-27 ESV)

This seems very specific. Job was at the end of his life, after being ridiculed and having lost everything he turned to the redeemer.

The promise of the resurrection was then fulfilled and realized in the New Testament. As Peter said when he was preaching in Jerusalem:

“This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, “ ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence’” (Acts 2:23-28 ESV)

The resurrection is the hope for all mankind, that we can be redeemed.

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20-21 ESV).

There are many artistic representations of the Resurrection of Jesus throughout the world. Some of these depictions are beautiful and we can see how throughout time, the resurrection still maintains its incredible significance to the Christian world.

Depictions of the Resurrection of Jesus

Here is a look at some of the different historical and artistic representations of the Resurrection.

“The Resurrection of Christ” by Andrea Della Robbia, Florence.

Hymnal, “The Resurrection of Christ” from Walters Manuscript.

Mosaic, “The Resurrection,” Chapel National Cathedral, Washington D.C.

Orthodox Church “Resurrection” iconography.

“The Resurrection of Christ” by Rembrandt.

The “Resurrected Christ” by B.L. Harley.

“Resurrection” by Piero Della Francesca.

“Resurrection Day” Artist unknown.

“The Resurrection of Christ” by Sebastiano Ricci.

Orthodox Iconography, “The Resurrection.” 

“Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.” – Revelation 20:6 

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