The tomb that had held the body of Jesus was discovered empty on “the first day of the week” by Mary Magdalene and some other women (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). After this discovery, which, by the way, was confirmed by others, including Peter and John (see John 20:2-10), a living Jesus made numerous appearances to His followers. Though not convinced at first, Jesus’ followers eventually became quite certain their Lord had risen from the dead. In fact, so persuaded were they of Jesus’ resurrection that they began to observe and celebrate it regularly. The timing of their weekly celebration is a testimony to the resurrection itself. Significantly, the early Christians, all of whom were devout Jews, met together on Sunday, “the first day of the week,” to worship Jesus and to observe His resurrection. This departure from Saturday worship was a very big deal!
From birth, Jews had engrained into the fabric of their beings the practice of Sabbath (Saturday) worship. They feared they would incite God’s wrath if they violated His laws concerning the Sabbath, or, put another way, if they broke the Sabbath. But abruptly, they departed from worshiping on Saturday to worshiping on Sunday—and not just once or twice, but perpetually, 52 times a year. Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2 speak of activities associated with Sunday worship, even though by the time the apostle Paul wrote these passages the gospel had spread to the Gentiles. Certainly the Gentile Christians understood the significance of Sunday, but they also were picking up the practice of Sunday worship from their Jewish brothers and sisters in Christ. Again, the change on the part of the Jews cannot be explained apart from Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances and the timing of His resurrection on a Sunday.
The move to Sunday worship to commemorate Jesus’ resurrection underscores something else as well. According to the law of Moses, the day of worship and rest took place at the end of the week—after six days of work. According to the gospel, the day of worship and rest takes place at the beginning of the week—before six days of work. Christians don’t work for salvation, but from it! As Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-10, we as Christians are saved by God’s grace when we place our faith in Christ. Since grace is undeserved divine favor, no one ever can do anything to earn a right relationship with God. Yet once we are saved, we are God’s “creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations in SundaySchoolZone.com materials are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.