He is risen!
Published: 2 April 2021 (GMT+10)
When we read Scripture, we have the advantage of knowing how the story ends. We know that God will stop Abraham before he sacrifices Isaac; we know that God will part the sea and destroy the Egyptian army. We know that God will deliver David out of Saul’s clutches and bring back the exiled nation of Judah to their homeland. But the people living these stories in real time didn’t know how the story would end; they were faced with the uncertainty of not knowing for sure how God would resolve things for their good and His glory.
Imagine being one of the tiny number of believers left the day after Good Friday. Their Teacher was dead. His teachings had seemingly only gotten Him killed by the Jews and the Romans. He had been hung on a tree, accursed under the law (Galatians 3:13). And maybe they were next.
Still, a group of women went to the tomb after the Sabbath was over to do what they could for their Lord. They carried spices and ointments to attend to His body, since He had been hastily buried on Friday before the Sabbath started. They knew the tomb was sealed, but perhaps they hoped a guard would take pity on them and let them in to perform one last act of service for Him.
When they saw the tomb abandoned and open, their first thought wasn’t that He had been resurrected. No one had been resurrected before, and no one expected anyone to be resurrected before the eschaton (last days, John 11:24). They thought that the body had been stolen.
Even when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, she didn’t immediately recognize Him. The same when He appeared to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. But the word spread through the small group of believers, news almost too wonderful to believe—He is risen!
This news changed everything. The disciples went from cowering in a locked room to preaching boldly, unafraid to be beaten, stoned, and even killed for the sake of this message. And over time, this message toppled the religious and political structures of the day. Christians spread out across the world, taking the Gospel with them and sometimes paying for it with their lives.
Every believer today is part of a line of faith that stretches back to the faithful men and women recorded in Scripture. And like them, we have to be faithful in circumstances where we don’t know how God will resolve things. But we have the assurance that just as God was weaving their stories for their good and His glory, He is also in control of situations that seem uncertain and frightening.
And God gives us the ultimate end of the story in Scripture as well. While we don’t know how our individual circumstances will play out, we do know that in the end the dead will be raised with resurrection bodies like Jesus’, and that Jesus will return to manifest the victory over death He won on the first Resurrection Day. The world will be restored to God’s original intention, and He will dwell with us forever. And on a day during which we especially remember Jesus’ resurrection, that is something to celebrate!