HE IS NOT HERE; HE HAS RISEN, JUST AS HE SAID. —MATTHEW 28:6A
There is hope for us in our verse.
“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” These words tell us that death was not the final answer for Jesus. He rose up out of the grave, defeating death, just exactly like he said he would. And so, these words are the wondrous confirmation of every good thing Jesus ever promised. They give us the hope we need, telling us life can spring up out of death, beauty can rise from ashes, renewal can shine out of despair, and abundance can overflow out of loss. This is the resurrection, new-life message of Easter. It’s the very wonderful truth we celebrate as the worldwide church of God each year. Because Jesus conquered death, we too can have life forever through him and with him. Our resurrection is coming—and it will be wonderful.
I’ve held on to this resurrection hope a lot recently.
Not because Easter’s coming, but because I needed to hear it and find hope in it during this season. You see, I’ve been to one funeral and two visitations in as many weeks. It seems that death just keeps hanging around, reminding me of its grim inevitability for all people. I have wept with those who weep, and I have looked for words only to find them insufficient. I have peered into the gaping hole of the grave and seen the empty darkness and trembled. Death, which often lurks in the shadows on the outskirts of my mind, has come to the forefront, reminding me of this somber truth: my life with loved ones here on earth is not permanent, and I am helpless in the face of this reality. And yet, as stark and fearsome as this truth is, the light of the resurrection outshines the darkness of the grave. The resurrection not only eclipses death of its power, it sends death to its own grave. Because death had no hold on Jesus, when we cling to him, death has no hold on us either. This is the hope of life in Christ, that our deepest sorrows and fears are swallowed up in the blazing light of life.
And to those who heard and saw the resurrected Jesus, it was BRILLIANT!
This miraculous, victorious message broke out of the grave at dawn on that first Easter morning some 2,000 years ago. In the midst of death and mourning, loss and weeping, came these astonishing words, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” These are words on the lips of angels, words to women weeping at the grave of their dearest friend, Jesus. Just a few short days before, Jesus was snatched from them, betrayed, falsely accused, beaten, mocked, condemned, and killed to their shock and horror. There was no time or space for a formal ceremony or funeral, only hiding and grieving and wondering if they had gotten it all wrong. Despite the despair of Jesus’s followers, at the earliest possible moment, these women came. In the quiet stillness just before dawn, they came. With hollow hearts, they came. With spices to anoint the body of their beloved friend, they came. This was their darkest moment. But instead of finding the darkness of death, these women were greeted with light. A shining angel of God rolled back the stone and revealed the empty tomb. He announced “[Jesus] is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (Matthew 28:6). Instantly, everything changed for them, for us, for all time. These words heralded the victory of Jesus over death for all who would cling to him.
And these are the very words we need.
We need this good news. We need to know that the grave isn’t our final resting place. We need to know that Jesus has destroyed our enemy death (1 Corinthians 15:9). Death does not have authority over Jesus, and therefore, it has no authority over his followers. We follow Jesus not only in this life, but beyond death and into resurrection life. When we sleep in death it is only to wake again to life forever with our Lord. Let me share these words that celebrate our victory in Jesus:
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
— 1 Corinthians 15:54-56
This is the message I am clinging to right now. I wonder if you need it too? It is the most hopeful word. Sin is no longer our master. We have been set free from its power because Jesus has set us free by giving us his righteousness. Now, death has no victory over us, no sting for us. We can walk in victory and freedom and the hope of life eternal in Christ. Thanks be to God, indeed!
Where do you need to hear this hopeful resurrection message today?
Who might need to hear this message from you?
Thanks for reading,
🎧 ON THE PODCAST: Get Your Heart Ready for Easter with These Readings