“And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matthew 28:5-6).
An Amazing Declaration
He is risen! This same Jesus who was crucified, this Jesus who was beaten, who had nails driven in His hands and His feet, who had a crown of thorns pressed down upon His brow, this Jesus who died, this Jesus whose body was laid in the grave — is alive!
The fact of the resurrection separates Christianity from every other religion in the world. Christianity is not a religion founded by a prophet who is in the grave or a great teacher who was admired by his followers but soon faded off the scene. Jesus Christ, the greatest of all teachers, the most reliable of all prophets, the most powerful of all kings did in fact die but is now alive.
The chief priests and Pharisees came to Pilate reminding him that Jesus said, “After three days I will rise again.” They requested that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day and Pilate said, “Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the tomb, and setting a watch” (Matthew 27:62ff). They did all they could. They sealed the tomb and they had guards in place to be sure the body was not stolen. But all they could do was not enough: Jesus came out of the grave triumphant over death.
A Comforting Message
As two women came to the sepulcher they saw an angel whose countenance was “like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.” Understandably, they were afraid. But the word of this heavenly messenger was “Fear not.” There is no cause for alarm, there is no need for anxiety. The angel said I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified, but the good news is: He is risen. “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”
Others may go to a grave and say here is the resting place of our great leader, but Christians point to an empty tomb and rejoice that Jesus Christ is alive. What a comfort to know that the forces of evil did not destroy Him, and that death did not swallow Him up; He was victorious over them.
After forty days the disciples watched His feet lift off the ground, saw Him disappear into the clouds, and then were comforted once more by the word of angels that Jesus would come back in like manner as they had seem Him go into heaven. It is a great comfort to know He is coming back, and in the mean time it is a real comfort to know that He is at the right hand of God where He ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).
A Joyful Response
Although the women still struggled with their fear, they departed from the sepulcher with “great joy” (8). What joy was felt to know Jesus had done exactly what He had previously told them He would do! After three days, He arose.
No doubt their hearts were extremely heavy at the crucifixion. The Master they had followed, the friend they had loved, the Savior they had trusted had been treated so cruelly and then died. In their moments of doubt and fear they must have wondered how they could possibly go on without Him. But the tidings from the angel brought them joy: He is now alive.
Luke gives us a clear picture of how the disciples struggled following the crucifixion. Two of the disciples were on the road to Emmaus when the resurrected Jesus put in an appearance. Jesus noted that they were sad, and asked them the cause of their despondency. They began to explain that they were grieving because of the crucifixion, and because of the report that the women said the body was no longer in the tomb. He then said, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his gory?” (Luke 24:25-26).
Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him. They then returned to Jerusalem, found the eleven and said, “The Lord is risen indeed!” What joy must have flooded the hearts of these who had been so dejected.
And what joy the gospel brings to dejected sinners. The gospel declares that Christ died for our sins, that He was buried, that He rose again the third day, and that He rose “for our justification” (Romans 4:25) — in rising from the dead, He conquered sin and death and therefore sealed our salvation. The true gospel points men, not to lifeless religious forms or the hard demands of the law, but to the living Savior. What joy to see Him as the friend and Savior of sinners!
An Appropriate Action
In Matthew’s account (Matthew 28), we see that after the women responded with joy to the realization Jesus was alive, Jesus then met them and they then worshipped Him. Jesus is not just a teacher to be heard or an example to be followed. He is God to be worshipped.