22 March 2016
He Has Risen!
His arrest, trial and crucifixion shook the people in Jerusalem. This Jesus -- idolized by so many, who had healed the sick and brought hope to the poor and downtrodden, who faced down the rich and powerful - how could He become the victim of the plots of wicked men?
His crucifixion plunged a sword through the heart of his most ardent followers. All their dreams and hopes of a better world died with Him on that awful Friday afternoon. Then the hurried burial, the fearful two-step to avoid the soldiers and officials, the bitter weeping of His mother and the women followers enthralled by his message of emancipation for women and for all. The midday sun was cloaked in the inky darkness of the night. And Judas, too late to understand how dark the deed of his treachery, had spilled his own blood.
The tight, ebullient band of disciples was broken, disillusioned and in disarray. What of all his bright promises and assurances -- I am the Light of the World. I am the Resurrection and the Life? What a bitter joke these fine words. He was gone and so were their hopes. Even now His mutilated body removed from the cross was lying, ill-prepared in a borrowed tomb. What was left? Nothing.
But there's Mark's account: When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"(Mark 16:1-3)
What was left? The women would perform their last act of homage and finish the burial preparations of His body. But when they came to the tomb, they were not prepared for what they found. The stone was rolled away and a strange man in white stood by.
The angel stranger spoke: "Don't be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'" (Mark 16:6-7) He has risen! He is not here! Just as he told you!
What was this angel saying? What was happening?
It was too much to take in: Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
Could the stranger's words be true?
The women and the first disciples all saw the Risen Christ. They were transported from the cold grave of despair to the bright jubilation of the Resurrection, and they were faithful to pass this message of hope to us all.
Today millions repeat the angel's words: He has risen! He is not here! Just as he told you! And because He lives, we will also live!
This Easter, may you discover the reality of this Jesus, Who conquered death. May you embrace His invitation to receive forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, boundless joy and endless life through Him.
Pastor Phil Phil Delsaut President, EMCC