Most Christians are very familiar with the story of the resurrection, but it’s often portrayed with a subtle inconsistency. Most of the time it’s implied that after Jesus rose from the dead, He flung open the tomb and walked out. But look at Matthew 28:1-2:
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
Verse 2 clearly says that an angel rolled back the stone. Have you ever considered why he did that? It certainly wasn’t because Jesus needed help getting out. I mean, it would be silly to think that the Christ who walked on water, raised people from the dead and calmed the seas would need help opening a door! Consider this alternate view: The stone wasn’t moved for Him. It was moved for us! That’s because…
We need to see that Jesus rose.
Three days earlier Jesus died to pay the sin-debt of the world. When He took His last breath and gave up His Spirit, He defeated death and paved the way for the salvation of everyone who believes. It’s conceivable that upon His resurrection, He could have gone straight back to heaven without showing Himself to anyone on earth. The atonement would have still been complete and accepted, however, there would have always been room for doubt among His followers. The Bible solidifies our faith by reminding us that Jesus not only rose from the dead but was seen by over 500 people (1 Cor. 15:6). His visible and documented resurrection gives us undeniable and irrefutable proof that He is alive and is now “at the right hand of God, (making) intercession for us.” (Rom. 8:34)
We need to see that fear is gone.
Put yourself in the shoes of the disciples at the moments between the cross and the resurrection. They had to be disoriented, scared and broken-hearted. All they could think is … Jesus is dead, now what? They no doubt wondered if they had believed in a false Messiah who was defeated by the power of Rome.
But after three excruciatingly long days passed, the women heard the message from the angel that salved their deepest fears.
“Do not be afraid. I know you’re looking for Jesus, who was crucified. (ie DEAD)
“He’s not here. He’s risen (ie ALIVE) (vs 5-6)
And in just a couple short phrases, the women were assured that Jesus was trustworthy and subject to no one, no thing … not even death. And isn’t that the message you still need today? When doubt creeps in, you need to take a good look inside the empty tomb and be reminded that if Jesus is able to rise from the dead, He is also able to keep all of His other promises as well.
We need to see beyond our disappointments.
This was a bad week for the followers of Jesus. It started out well with a wild celebration as Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey. But only a few days later and all their hopes and dreams vanished and their worst nightmares became reality. With Jesus laying lifeless in a tomb, it would have been impossible for them to have imagined a more dire set of circumstances. Yet into this most severe of all scenarios the angel invited them to come and see this place of horror and defeat as instead a place of victory, life and triumph!
Perhaps today you find yourself standing outside what appears to be a ‘tomb,’ wondering how things could ever be worse. Before you surrender to doubt, and walk away in despair, remember the message of this angel to all Christ-followers:
On the other side of despair, there is hope.
On the other side of pain, there is joy.
On the other side of the grave, there is life!
When Christ broke the power of sin and death, He proved His ability to bring purpose to situations that seem purposeless, and give meaning to what seems meaningless.
As you prepare to celebrate Easter this year, remember that the message of the resurrection is more than a historical event that anchors our faith. It’s also a personal message for you today! Because Jesus is alive, sin and death are defeated and hold no power over His followers. While our personal crises may endure, they don’t have the final word in our lives. Christ’s power reaches into the midst of our confusion, and graciously offers abundant life, confident hope and certain peace… for this life… and for all eternity.