A group of grieving women who watched Jesus die on Friday trudged to the tomb to anoint his body on Sunday. But the tomb was empty. “He is not here,” an angel told them; “he has risen!”
Risen? Who could believe such a thing?
His disciples should have. He had told them more than once that he would “be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Mt 16:21). “On the third day [I] will be raised to life!” he had said (Mt 20:19).
But resurrection jargon was beyond their comprehension. Their obtuseness is understandable. Death ended life—end of story.
That’s what Jesus’ murderers thought, too. But as crazy as they considered his prediction of resurrection, they were uneasy. They lobbied Pontius Pilate to seal the tomb, saying, “While he was still alive, that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead’” (Mt 27:63–64).
Jesus was crucified, and the door of death slammed shut behind him. But the grave could not confine him.
Death cannot keep his prey—Jesus, my Savior!
He tore the bars away—Jesus, my Lord!
Death, Satan’s most potent weapon, was impotent against Jesus. “I was dead,” he would later say, but “I am alive forever and ever!” (Rv 1:18).
Saul, the number one church terrorist, got it, and became Paul, the number one church supporter: from oppressor to defender, from opponent to advocate. He was certain of Christ’s resurrection. Hardship and danger stalked him for the rest of his life (2 Cor 11:23–27). So what? “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later,” he wrote (Rom 8:18). He was focused on the one thing that hardship and danger couldn’t penetrate: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection” (Phil 3:10).
We live on this side of the resurrection. How is our faith holding up? In the crosshairs of the coronavirus pandemic, our world is guzzling antacids and sleeping-pills by the bushel.
COVID-19, nuclear threats, Internet predators, global warming, and cancer lock horns with our psyche and push us into panic mode.
But the resurrection—if we’re listening—tells us that in the long run, things will work out well. Bad guys and bad things won’t win; life, not death, is in our future.
You are a player in this story. “The glorious fact is that Christ did rise from the dead: he has become the very first to rise of all who sleep the sleep of death . . . Christ the very first and after him all who belong to him when he comes” (1 Cor 15:20, 23). You’ll not be the first one to be raised, but you’ll be one of the ones.
To a grieving lady whose brother had died, Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again . . . Those who believe in me even though they die, will live . . . Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she said (Jn 11:23–27).
We hear the same assurance and confront the same question: “Those who believe in me even though they die, will live . . . Do you believe this?” And we answer the same way: “Yes, Lord.”
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, he raised three people from the dead: a widow’s only son, a rabbi’s only daughter, and two sisters’ only brother. All three returned to their old life—only to die again. Jesus was resurrected to a new life—never to die again.
And that’s what Easter promises you: resurrection to a new life—never to die again.