He isn’t here.
With those words, the angels told the world that Jesus was alive.
Women had come to continue the burial preparations, and on the way they wondered how they would get the stone away from the tomb. They didn’t know that it had been sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers. They were probably still shaken by the recent earthquake (which rolled away the stone).
As the women were receiving the Greatest News from the angels and receiving instruction from the risen Lord…
And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” Matt 28:9-10 (ESV)
…the Roman guards were shakily explaining that the tomb was empty. Losing a prisoner was an offense punishable by death, and losing a DEAD prisoner was not only embarrassing, but potentially career- and life-ending as well.
While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. Matt 28:11-15 (ESV)
The cover-up began in the early hours of that Resurrection Morning. The soldiers were happy because they received a bribe AND kept their heads, but the elders must have been frantic. Everything Jesus said was true. He rose from the grave. Since then, many theories have been offered as to Jesus’ resurrection, but there is only one explanation – He rose!
The women told the disciples. The disciples didn’t believe them. Perhaps it was because they were women (in Middle Eastern culture, it takes the testimony of two women to equal that of one man. Perhaps they thought the women were distraught and hallucinating. Perhaps their hearts were simply hard.) We do know that they were scared at this point, locking their doors from “the Jews”.
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews … John 20:19 (ESV)
Jesus appeared to Cleopas and one unnamed person as they walked to Emmaus. Jesus appeared but didn’t allow them to know who He was. He got into a conversation with these two men. They told Him of the death and resurrection of the Messiah, and Jesus interpreted Scripture for them, proving that the Christ was the One Who rose from the dead. At that point, the men still had no clue they were talking to Jesus. They invited Him to stay the evening and eat dinner with them.
When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. Luke 24:30-35 (ESV)
Whatever the excuse of the disciples for disbelieving the women, they now had eyewitness testimony of the risen Savior from the men. Still they chose to disbelieve. Jesus wasn’t amused! He appeared to them – walking through a solid door to do so – and chastised them for the hardness of their hearts.
Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. Mark 16:14 (ESV)
In the 40 days between His resurrection and ascension, Jesus appeared to well over 500 people. How many had seen Him die? We’ll never know, but the ones who were fortunate enough to sit under Him as He taught before His death and then saw Him after His resurrection had the best seats in Jerusalem that year!
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (ESV)
Before He left, Jesus gave what we term The Great Commission.
Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Mark 16:15 (ESV)
Too many of us think that this is a calling for missionaries to get out and evangelize. It’s not! Every one of us is to proclaim the Gospel. The early church taught so that the students could become teachers themselves.
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Tim 2:1-2 (ESV)
In many respects, we have departed from this pattern. In most churches, the congregation pays the pastor to preach, win the lost and build up the saved – while the church members function as cheerleaders or spectators. The “converts” are won, baptized and given the right hand of fellowship, then they join the other spectators. How much faster our churches would grow, and how much stronger and happier our church members would be, if each one were discipling another believer. The only way a local church can “be fruitful and multiply” is with a systematic discipleship program. – Warren Wiersbe
Jesus came. He performed miracles. He laughed, cried, worked, ate, slept, taught and prayed. He voluntarily walked into Jerusalem to be the ultimate Passover lamb. He allowed Himself to be spat upon, beaten, scourged, mocked, hung, and killed. We don’t know exactly what He was doing between His death and His resurrection, but we know that He WON.
All He asks of us Is to accept the free gift of salvation that He offers – and to go and tell others. Have you accepted the gift? Do you tell others? When someone asks what you do on Sunday, do you confidently say that you go to church – and invite them to go with you? When the church has a special event, do you invite your friends? Do you pray for your friends and your enemies? Do you mention Jesus with reverence in your daily life – or does the only mention of Jesus others hear come as you take His name in vain?
How will you fulfill the Great Commission this week? Your Savior hung and died for you. Mention that to someone today.
See you tomorrow.