Before His death, our Lord had on several occasions prophesied of His resurrection (cf. Matthew 16:21; 17:22–23; 20:19; Mark 9:9; 14:28; Luke 18:33; John 2:19–22). He specifically foretold that He would rise from the grave on “the third day”. He assured His hearers that His death would be speedily followed by His return to life from the grave.
Even though Jesus had plainly spoken about His resurrection, it was not fully understood by His disciples. Such a prediction of one’s own resurrection was so unprecedented and unheardof that His disciples could not comprehend it. However, His enemies did take note of His prediction. Though they did not believe Him, they nonetheless had thought to themselves concerning the possibility of His disciples stealing His body after His death, so as to make it look like He was resurrected! So, they went so far as to have His grave watched by Roman soldiers.
After all the repeated emphases by Christ on His resurrection, when it finally happened, His disciples could not believe it without tangible proof. We read that the resurrected Christ rebuked their dullness and unbelief – “Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen” (Mark 16:14). The gospelwriter Luke says, “And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken” (Luke 18:34). Are you like the disciples, who listened to all that Christ had said about His death and resurrection, and yet remained dazed and confused? Why was it that they could not take in Jesus’ predictions about His death and resurrection? Though the truths of His death and resurrection were plainly revealed, so deep-seated were their prejudices and their unwillingness to believe them that they did not understand them. We must learn to place our confidence in Christ’s words before we can understand them. We should learn to trust in His Word, and believe everything He has spoken. Jesus’ gentle rebuke to Thomas, who resisted the truth of His resurrection by asking for tangible proof of His appearance, is instructive: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Only those who believe in Christ’s resurrection shall partake in the blessedness of the power and glory of His resurrection. If there remains any doubt within you, then humbly plead, “Lord, … help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24b).