"…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…'"
Matthew 28:5-6, ESV
He has risen!
Very early on Sunday, some of the women, including Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, went to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body. When they arrived, they saw that the large stone had been rolled back and the tomb was open. What had happened? Then an angel spoke to them:
"He said to them, 'Do not be alarmed, You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'" Mark 16:6-7, ESV
The women told the disciples who could not believe the news. Later that day, Jesus appeared to them all (except Thomas). He showed him his hands and feet. He asked for something to eat. He proved he was real. They were so overjoyed they could barely accept it was true, but they believed because they saw him. (Thomas believed when he saw him a week later, declaring "My Lord and my God!")
When he showed himself to his disciples, Jesus opened their minds so they could understand everything that had been written about him in the Old Testament. He said to them,
"…it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem." Luke 24: 46-47, ESV
This day, Easter, we celebrate new life because Jesus rose from the dead. Everyone who believes in him can have this new life, eternal life! It's not about bunnies, chicks or Easter eggs. Easter is about the Son of God who humbled himself and died a sinner's death but rose to reclaim his rightful place in heaven as the Savior, Lord and King.
In some church traditions, people greet each other on Easter morning with, "He is risen!" The response to this wonderful greeting is, "He is risen indeed!" The first time someone said to me, "He is risen," I said, "Yes, he is." I did not know the special Easter greeting. Then I heard how others responded. I loved it. How very cool!
For followers of Jesus, Easter is the pinnacle of the year. I would encourage all of us to greet each other with a declaration that is ultimately the basis for our faith, "He is risen!" And then respond with, "He is risen indeed!" That's our hope. That's the basis for our new life with God. It's not the cross that gives us life. The cross was required to pay the penalty of sin. It is Jesus' resurrection that conquers death and brings us new life…for everyone who believes!
Have you received the gift of this new life? If not, why not do it today?! He is risen.
The suffering has ended. The wait is over. Hope is restored.
Jesus is risen! Happy Easter!