“He is not here, He is risen.” With those words the angel announced the most incredible event in all of history. That announcement declared a victory over death that would not only change the course of history but would have meaning for all eternity. He who had been declared dead was not only alive but was alive forever more. Others, such as Lazarus, had been revived to life but would again face death. This was totally different for Jesus had not been revived but raised from the dead. The grave could not hold him. Satan was defeated and life everlasting was now possible. What a glorious event.
Picture if you can the events of that first Easter morning. A group of women had come to the grave to complete the burial that had been cut short three days earlier at the beginning of the Sabbath. No work was to be done on the Sabbath day and certainly no work on a dead body. One can only imagine how these women felt as they approached the tomb. For some time they had been following Jesus and they had grown to not only love Him but to trust in Him. They had listened as He taught and watched as He performed miracles. They had expected so much and suddenly all their hopes seemed to have come to an end as they learned of His arrest and then witnessed Him on a Cross. They heard the soldiers declare Him officially dead. This one, whom they hoped would be their Savior, was gone and now all that remained was a proper burial, the least they could do. After that, well I guess it was get on with life, pick up the pieces of broken dreams and move on.
Along with heaviness of heart that morning they had other concerns. How would they ever get into the tomb to complete the burial? The officials had rolled a huge stone in front of the tomb to ensure that no one interfered with the body. What would they do when they arrived? But we read that when they got there that which they feared most on the way was not an issue. The stone was rolled back, and we read that on that stone sat an angel. Read in Matthew 28:5-7 what he said.
That announcement by the angel was incredible. First, it contains words of assurance. The angel says, “Don’t be afraid.” It had to have been awesome and scary to arrive expecting to struggle over a stone and find it moved with an angel sitting on it. Then came the great announcement, “He is not here.”
Had the angel stopped at that point we would be, as Paul would later write, “most miserable” because a simple message that He was not there would not give us the hope we need. If He were simply not there, it could be argued that his body was stolen, that it had been transferred to another site, that it had decayed, or maybe it was taken up into heaven as was the body of Enoch or Elijah. If the angel had ended his announcement with the fact that the body was no longer there, we would never know the glory of that Easter event. But the announcement did not end there, it went on to declare, “He is risen.” Jesus had risen from the dead. The body was not somewhere else; He was alive. And what a difference that would make for all mankind.
Every day during this pandemic we hear reports of the present death totals from all over the world. One of man’s greatest questions is what, if anything, lies beyond the grave. Is death the end or is there more? The Bible tells us that death is not the end for anyone. We were all created to exist forever but, because of sin, we would have to exist forever separated from God. The Bible distinguishes between existing with God and existing without God by calling the first everlasting life and the second everlasting death. If the angel had not been able to declare that Jesus had risen, we would have no hope But He is alive. The victim became the victor, the conquered became the conqueror. Life, not just existence, after death is possible.
Read I Corinthians 15:51-55. Death has no victory because Jesus conquered death once and for all. Death has no victory because the tomb could not hold Jesus.
That victory means many things to us. It means we can now have fellowship with God because the sentence of our sin that separated us has been paid, paid in full. No longer need we stand before God as sinners under judgment. By accepting the provision of Jesus on the Cross we can have renewed fellowship with God. The sin issue was cared for on the Cross. His resurrection means fellowship with God is possible.
Because He lives, we can have fellowship with Jesus. It really is hard to fellowship with a dead person. Because Jesus lives, we can believe His promise “I will never leave you or forsake you. And Lo I am with you always.” Fellowship can be a daily reality in prayer because we have a living Jesus. And fellowship is possible for all eternity. The promise that He is preparing a place for us and will come again to take us unto Himself can be a reality because He lives.
The resurrection also provides a new kind of life. Paul wrote in Romans that not only was the resurrection a physical fact of history; it was a spiritual fact also. It’s beyond our ability to fully understand how it happens but when we trust in Jesus as our personal Savior, we somehow become personal participants in His resurrection. Paul wrote that because of this we have the power, the strength, the ability to overcome sin, to live above our circumstances, be victorious in our Christian living. A dead God cannot help us with the problems we have today. A dead God cannot help us overcome the temptations we face today. A dead God cannot help us overcome a habit that has held us in its grip for perhaps years. But a living Jesus can do all of that for us. His power is available to us today. He is not here; He is risen and therefore all of His power is available to us.
The resurrection means there is an eternal victory for all who know Jesus and have personally applied the forgiveness provided for on the Cross. The resurrection was not for time alone but for eternity. In I Corinthians 15:22 Paul wrote “In Adam all men die but in Christ shall all be made alive.” That statement sums up the blessing that the resurrection provides for those who know and love Jesus. Paul wrote that the death and resurrection of Jesus allows for an everlasting relationship.
The resurrection means a fellowship, it means power, and it means an eternal provision. It also means we have a new message to share with the world. We must share the greatest proclamation of all history that, “He is not here, He is risen.” We live in a society that is searching for the answers to what life is all about. The pandemic has made it clear we are not indestructible, that everything we once depended upon is fragile. Nearly everyone is thinking about life and death. The resurrection is a promise of a life for all who believe. We need to share the message of our living Savior with a hungry and searching world. Because He is risen, we cannot keep silent. The message of Good Friday and Easter is too important to be kept to ourselves.
Easter celebrates the greatest event in all of history, the defeat of death and the assurance that what Jesus provided for on the Cross can indeed be ours. Let us rejoice in it all. Let us praise Him for the new fellowship that is now possible, for the power that is available to all of us that enables us to live above the circumstances of life, to break the hold of Satan over us. “He is not here, He is risen!”