“And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay….”Matthew 28:5-6
It had been a painful week for the followers of Jesus. They followed Him as He rode into Jerusalem, hailed as Messiah and King of the Jews. They heard His words as He taught in the temple. They heard His laments and rebukes because of unbelief and heard of the judgments to come. They saw His anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane. They witnessed His trials, the horrors of His crucifixion and saw His lifeless body taken down from the cross and hastily laid in a nearby tomb before the sabbath day began.
Now, all that remained was to complete His burial before returning home. Jesus was dead. All His teaching about forgiveness of sins, the kingdom of God and eternal life in God’s kingdom was buried with Him in that tomb.
The Gospel of Luke tells us of the women (Luke 23:55 – 24:2): “And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment. Now upon the first [day] of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain [others] with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre….”
For many today, Easter Sunday is a day to finish properly Jesus’ burial. Lent is over and we can now put Jesus’ sufferings and death behind us and move on to other things – at least for another year. It is a day to say His life and death have meaning and His legacy lives on in our hearts.
But Jesus wasn’t in the tomb! Instead, an angel was there and announced to the women: “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay….”And, as the women hurried to tell Jesus’ disciples the news, Jesus met them and greeted them. He was alive – not just in spirit, but bodily – they held his feet and worshiped Him.
His death was full payment for the sins of the world, God accepted the sacrifice of His Son and raised Him up, proving our justification (Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:17-20). He truly is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25-26). He lives and we shall live also (John 14:19; Job 19:25-27;1 Thess. 4:13-18). All His words and teaching are indeed true! He shall reign forever and ever (Rev. 11:15) and we shall reign with Him in the new heavens and earth (Rev. 7:9-17; 21:1-7)!
We come today not to eulogize Him in death but to celebrate His victory over sin, death and the devil and to rejoice in the new and everlasting life He won for us!
O crucified and risen Lord Jesus, grant that we might see and believe the message of the angel and rejoice in Your triumph over sin and death that we might have the certain hope of life everlasting in You. Amen.
[Scripture from the King James Version of the Bible]