He is Risen! Most of you have heard these words – this phrase, right? We hear it on Easter. It’s the whole reason for Easter! (Believe it or not – not eggs or bunnies) In this day and time, however, there may be some people, maybe even you, who don’t know what the phrase means. If you do, you’ve probably even spoken them. Yet, are they just words to you? Or, do they really mean something to you?

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” – Matt 28:5-7 (ESV)

All four gospels agree that early Sunday morning, after the Sabbath had passed, a group of women, including Mary of Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph (Matt 27:56), went to Jesus’ tomb to anoint him. (Matt 28:1; Mark 16:1-2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1) Once they got there, they were surprised to find the huge stone rolled away from the tomb! From reading The New American Commentary: Luke, the tomb/stone situation “involves a cavelike tomb with a large wheel-like stone that was rolled down a channel to cover the tomb opening.” [1] Not only was the stone rolled away/back – but the women discovered that Jesus’ body was gone!

The women are understandably frightened. Who moved the stone? Where is Jesus? Who is this figure in front of them – whose appearance was “like lightening” and had clothes as “white as snow.” (Matt 28:3) Then, as we read in our verses above, the angel speaks to them. The first thing the angel says is, “Do not be afraid.” He understood or could see how they were feeling. (I’ve got to say, just from reactions people in the Bible have whenever they see or are confronted by angels – there must be something about angels that frightens people! “Don’t be afraid” seems to continually be the first words that come from an angel.) But anyway, this angel knew who the women were seeking- Jesus. So he tells them the awesome, great news – that he is not here – not because someone stole him or took him – but because he has risen! Just as Jesus had said he would do. He is alive!

I can’t imagine how these women felt – can you? I can understand the grief they were feeling as they were going to the tomb. I know how I felt when mom died – and how I still feel. But to get to the tomb and find the stone removed, the body missing and seeing an angel? Then to hear the news from the angel – He has risen. I’m sure they had all kinds of emotions and questions – and even memories – swimming in their heads. Could this possibly be true? From angst and great sorrow to wonder to disbelief to unbelievable joy! What a shift of emotions.

Jesus had previously told the disciples that he would be killed and three days later arise. (Mark 8:31; Mark 9:30-32; Mark 10:32-34) But they just didn’t understand – or didn’t want to understand at that time. Now they do. Now we do. Jesus is who he said he was. He is trustworthy. He is faithful. He is the Son of God, perfect, died for our sins and was raised from the dead! And, He lives! He is risen! (See Matt 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-10; John 20:1)

My Prayer:

Dear Lord, don’t let the words – He is Risen – be just words to me. Give me the initial joy, gratitude and awe that I had when I first believed! You are who you say you are. You are creator, sustainer, protector, provider, Lord and Savior. You are! You are faithful, just and true. You are my rock and shelter. You are!

Jesus is risen indeed!! Amen.

 

[1] Stein, R. H. (1992). Luke (Vol. 24, p. 604). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.