Then the angel spoke to the women. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.’ — Matthew 28:5-7
Miracles often seem like faraway events that happened to ancient people — there’s no way that a miracle could happen to us. When God says that we are going to experience a miracle, we usually find ourselves doubting and refusing to believe out of fear that the miracle we’re waiting on is never going to happen.
How can we believe in miracles today? How can we remember God’s power in times of waiting and periods of doubt? By reading about the most famous miracle of all time, we can learn how to remember God’s power and faithfulness in all seasons of life.
Remember That God Is in Control
Let’s set the scene. After following Jesus for a period of years and watching him perform miracle after miracle, now the disciples stand, dumbfounded, as Jesus’s body is carried into a tomb. How can a man so powerful, so obviously the Son of God, be dead?
The three days after Jesus’s death must have been horrific for these men. They must have felt that all they did was for nothing, that they abandoned their families and careers and wasted their lives following a man who was just killed. They must have doubted if Jesus really was the Son of God — after all, if Jesus was the Son of God, then he wouldn’t have died, right?
However, even in this time of uncertainty and doubt, God was in control. As Bible commentator David Guzik noted, the empty tomb did not just show that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Jesus was the only one laid in that tomb, so no one could mistake his dead body for another or deceive others into thinking that a dead man was alive. The tomb was also open, so witnesses could see that it was, in fact, empty.1 The empty tomb symbolized that God knew what he needed to do to convince people that Jesus was alive. Throughout all the darkness and uncertainty that followed Jesus’s death, God was in control.
Guzik also notes that the angel pointed out that Jesus told his disciples that he would die and be raised from the dead three days later (Matthew 16:21), meaning that the disciples and the women should have already known that this would happen.1 God was in control not only after the resurrection, but also before it.
In the same way, God is in control of even the darkest areas of our lives. When we are doubting God’s promises or trapped in a sin that we can’t get rid of, he’s there and planning everything for our good. Just like he welcomed his disciples after they abandoned him during his torture and death, he’ll welcome us back and forgive us of the sins we’ve committed against him.
Remember That God’s Timing Is Always Perfect
When Jesus died, he stayed dead for an incredible amount of time — not one day, not two days, but three days!
To understand the significance of that, let’s take a look at what happens to the body during the first three days after death. Very quickly after death, the muscles of the body stiffen into rigor mortis. The eyes become clouded, and the cells in the skin begin to break down. By the time three days has passed, the cells are disintegrating, blood is clotting in the limbs of the dead and the body has passed from rigor mortis. The muscles begin to relax as the cells within start to disintegrate. In other words, after three days, the body is very much dead.2
Based on the way the body responds to death and how quickly it begins to break down, after three days the disciples would have expected Jesus’s body to be rotting. This was why the women came to the tomb — they wanted to finish preparing Jesus’s body for burial.1 This means that the disciples were not in denial. Even they truly believed that Jesus was dead.
Imagine how they must have felt during those three days. If Jesus didn’t jump down from the cross and heal himself on Good Friday, then perhaps they thought that he would wake up the next day, perhaps even before his muscles began to stiffen. Then, he didn’t. The whole day passes, and nothing happens. By this time, they might have begun to doubt that Jesus was even the Messiah.
Then, he wakes up on Sunday morning, and the women among them are the first to find out rather than the disciples themselves. There probably would have been confusion, and there certainly was doubt (Matthew 28:17 NLT).
This often happens during waiting periods. The disciples had to wait for three days, where they would have experienced doubt and may have struggled with their faith. However, God doesn’t operate by our timing. If he did, then Jesus would have jumped down from the cross before his death, and not fulfilled his mission on earth.
If God operated by our timing, we would have passed every test in school, our sick relatives would have been healed the second we prayed for them and we would have gotten married before our hearts were ready for such a commitment. God makes us wait for a reason, and that reason isn’t always clear, nor is it a uniform reason for everyone on earth. If God is making you wait, there is likely something that he is trying to teach you, or a fault that he is trying to point out to you. God’s timing is always perfect, so keep having faith. He’ll fulfill his promise to you when he’s ready and you’re ready.
Remember That God Keeps His Promises
The angel said to the women, 'He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.' — Matthew 28:6
Jesus predicted his death many times throughout the gospels, but he also predicted his resurrection (Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:21-23, Matthew 20:17-18 NLT). That kind of prediction — a prediction of death, torture and resurrection on precisely the third day — is difficult to swallow for most people, even Peter (Matthew 16:22 NLT). In fact, many of God’s promises are difficult to swallow. After all, how are we supposed to believe that failing a big test will still get us the career we want, or that our aunt will be healed, just not yet, or that we’re going to get married in a specific time period, even though we’re still single?
When we receive promises like this, we’re inclined to simply not believe them. We think that maybe if we don’t believe them, then we won’t be disappointed when God’s promises don’t happen. God never breaks his promises, though. The resurrection is proof of that, complete with many eyewitnesses, not all of which knew Jesus personally.
You may be in a season where you’re wondering if that promise God made to you — the day he told you that the answer to your request was “Yes, but wait,” — is ever going to happen. Remember that God keeps his promises! You may have to wait, but God never forsakes those who trust him. He works everything out for our good, even when we don’t see what’s going on in the background (Romans 8:28 NLT). We just need to take a deep breath and trust that God has something working out that we don’t see. Eventually, what God has promised will come to pass. We just need to wait.
If you’re interested in learning more about God’s promises and how you can apply biblical truth to your everyday life, check out GCU’s theology and ministry programs, offered by the College of Theology. Complete the form on this page to learn more.
1 Guzik, D. (n.d.). Matthew 28 — A risen lord Jesus and his commission. Enduring Word. Retrieved April 20, 2023.
2 Shrestha, R., Kanchan, T., & Krishan, K. (2022, May 15.). Methods of Estimation of Time Since Death. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved April 20, 2023.
Approved by the local outreach coordinator of the Office of Spiritual Life on July 27, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.