HE IS NOT HERE; HE HAS RISEN, JUST AS HE SAID. — MATTHEW 28:6A
“But Daddy, where is Jesus right now?”
My husband was tucking our then five-year-old daughter into bed. After they prayed to Jesus, she wanted to know where he actually was. As in, where is Jesus physically located in this moment?
When my husband answered, “Well, in one sense, he’s everywhere,” she replied, “Whoa. He’s a very big boy.” She then asked if Jesus was also in her closet. How fabulous is the honesty and curiosity of a child?
Yesterday—Easter Sunday—we exulted in Jesus’s resurrection. We celebrated the historical reality that when the women who loved Jesus went to visit his tomb an angel greeted them and said, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” (Matthew 28:6). The resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith. Our God lives! Our Savior is alive! As Christians, Easter is our biggest day.
Oftentimes, though, our understanding of Jesus stops there. He rose from the grave, but then what? We have a vague awareness that he appeared to the men on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), to the disciples (Luke 24:36-49), and to more than 500 others (1 Corinthians 15:6) before ascending to heaven. And we know he somehow lives in our hearts. But do you ever wonder along with my young daughter where Jesus is physically located in this moment?
After the Father raised him from the dead, Jesus appeared to his disciples in his resurrected body. They recognized him, but they were frightened, thinking they were seeing a spirit because they thought Jesus was still in the grave. But it was Jesus, in his resurrection body, which bore the wounds from his crucifixion, and yet he was fully healed and ready to eat. In his glorified body, Jesus sat down to eat broiled fish with his disciples.
Over their shared meal, Jesus "opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45, ESV). He then blessed his disciples and “he parted from them and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51, ESV). The body that was raised from the dead is now alive in heaven. Where is Jesus physically located in this moment? He sits next to the Father, in his glorified body. Multiple scriptures testify to this truth (see Ephesians 1:20; Luke 22:69; Acts 2:33; 5:31; Romans 8:34; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3).
Paul gives us the whole story in his letter to the Ephesians when he says, the Father raised Jesus “from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:20-23, ESV).
We often disconnect Jesus’s resurrection from his ascension, reflecting on them as individual stories. But in reality, one truth flows to the next, culminating in the good news that Jesus not only conquered sin and death, but he now reigns victorious in his glorified humanity.
The Son of Man about whom Daniel prophesied, “to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14), is the same reigning Christ that Paul proclaims in his letter to the Ephesians hundreds of years later.
Here’s what’s so exciting for you and me: Because our Savior is risen and now reigns, we too are victorious! We are hidden in him (Colossians 3:3). He is our advocate (1 John 2:1). He intercedes for us (Romans 8:34). He will never leave us, and never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We are more than conquerors through Jesus because we are united to the conqueror who has dominion over every single thing (Romans 8:37).
This union you and I have with Christ is everything. Paul says, the Father “gave [Jesus] as head over all things to the church” (Ephesians 1:22). We are the church—we have been given Jesus. The Father has “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). There is nothing—nothing!—that we lack spiritually if he is our Savior.
Easter does not end with the resurrection of Christ. The story continues with Jesus’s ascension, reign in heaven, and the truth that he will one day come again. Jesus will return to earth and, “the dwelling place of God [will be] with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 1:1-4).
So where is Jesus physically located in this moment? We can bask in the glow and joy of Easter and celebrate that he is risen and now at the right hand of the Father. As my young daughter said, Jesus is big!
But don’t stop there. Yes, Jesus reigns in heaven now. But he will be back to reign on earth forever and ever. The answer to my daughter’s question will one day change from he’s at the right hand of the Father, to he’s right here, with his people. Heaven and her King will come again. Are you ready?