“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he was risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”
- Matthew 28:5-6
He’s not here. Where? In the grave. Why? Because he was risen.
This is the reality that Christians have been tasked with living into ever since that early Sunday morning, starting with a handful of women who came to anoint Jesus’ body.
Their fear and uncertainty are understandable. The reality that they had been living in was death. “You are looking for Jesus, who was crucified,” says the angel.
He was crucified. These women watched it. They were the women who were at the execution site. They saw the nails in his hands and the thorns on his head. They heard him cry out to his Father in agony. They watched the spear being thrust into his side. They ached as he let out a loud cry and took his final breath.
They were there when their Rabbi was crucified. The reality of death weighed heavily on them, and Jesus had gone the way of countless relatives and teachers before him.
Death was the reality. It’s the way life went. It’s how everyone finished their life’s journey. This was just the way things were.
But Jesus changed the narrative. What was ‘real’ to them was no longer the reality. “He is not here,” said the angel. “He was risen, just as he said.”
Just as he said? Jesus told them that this would happen. He gave them a heads up. He informed them of the plan, the master blueprint, the model moving forward. He set the expectation.
But it hadn’t yet become real. They had to “come and see” before it became real.
The most beautiful truth in the world is the one that is hardest to grasp. As the song puts it, “He’s alive! He’s alive! Heaven’s gates are open wide!” We sing this and it almost leaves us breathless because of the truth it holds. How many of us actually live into this new reality?
J.I. Packer, a former professor at Regent College, once said this: “What I shall be saying to my class, in substance, is: Look! This is the biggest thing that ever was! And we Christians, most of us, still haven’t appreciated its size. We’ve been Christians for years and years, and yet we haven’t fully grasped it.”
Perhaps it’s a matter of emphasis. Over the years, Christians have been fluent in the language of ‘personal relationship’ and ‘theological accents’ but have forgotten the all-embracing grand narrative that is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Although we’re always looking for good stories to tell and adventures to be had, we don’t realize that we are actually living in the world’s most beautiful story.
Have we been captured by it? Are we captured by the reality that ‘He’s alive?’
Because no longer is death the end or final reality of our existence. Jesus has set a new expectation, a new pattern, a new reality for those who would ‘follow’ in his footsteps.
Resurrection. If he’s alive, then that is our reality too. That’s what he wants for us as well. It’s where the whole world is headed.
So I encourage you today, whenever it comes to mind, to whisper the words, “He’s alive.” Remind yourselves continually that this is your greatest reality. Pray that the Holy Spirit would draw you deeper into the world’s greatest story and history’s most beautiful truth.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, our friend and King, we ask that you would allow the unfathomable and ungraspable reality of your resurrection to sink in deeply, to fill us richly, and to inspire us to live into this truth: that you, Jesus, are alive. May this be our greatest reality. Amen.
Song: Listen to this one all the way to the end. It’s the best part. https://youtu.be/OX-Xt-vBYPc.