Two days had passed since Jesus’ death and all seemed hopeless.
Imagine the anguish, the hopelessness of those who had placed their trust in Him: He was dead!
How could they expect help from Someone who wasn’t alive? How could they expect help from Someone who ultimately suffered the same consequence to sin as every other human being did? What good was Christ’s perfectly lived life, if it still resulted in death? Their minds must have been so confused, their hearts heavy, and their doubts many.
The third morning, some women made their way to the tomb of this One in whom they had placed their trust. They came early in the morning, just as the sun was starting to rise. Perhaps they felt that the sun had no right to shine when their own thoughts seemed so dark. They were fully prepared to anoint a dead body; to see the face they had loved, now gray with death. I can’t imagine that there was much conversation, other than puzzlement over how they were going to move the stone that was barricading the entrance to the tomb.
However, when the women got to the tomb they were greatly surprised to find “the stone [was] rolled away from the sepulchre” as a result of an earthquake (Luke 24:2-5). I think if I had been there I would have been a bit wary about trying to go any further, much less about trying to go into the actual tomb. An earthquake can do severe damage, and although Christ’s body had already been beaten and pierced, the women had no way of knowing what it would look like now. Yet it is recorded that “they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus” (Vrs. 3). This left them even more confused. Had the body been stolen? Had the earthquake somehow moved it?
Well, “it came to pass as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments.” (Vrs. 4) Now filled with fear, the women “bowed their faces to the earth.” (Vrs. 5)
Though I don’t think they were any less confused, they knew that something special was happening. The angels then speak, bringing the words of life that would bring hope to their souls and to the billions of lives that would follow after.
“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is RISEN!”
And in that incredible declaration of the Resurrection, all was well again. The doubts were erased, the fears were put to rest.
All of the women go rejoicing on their way, except Mary. For some unknown reason, she did not enter the tomb with the other women but instead stayed weeping outside. She sees the two angels sitting; they ask her why she is crying. She tells them that she does not know where the body of her Lord is, but then not expecting them to understand her sorrow she turns away. That’s when she saw Him. It was her risen Lord, but she did not recognize Him. He too asks her why she is weeping and who she is seeking. Mary answers in the same way, and once again not expecting much help, turns away. Then Jesus says one word: “Mary.” I wonder if that single word–her own name, spoken by her Lord–sent tingles down her spine. “The sheep hear His voice: and He calleth His own sheep by name and leadeth them out. And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice” (Jn 10:3-4). “She turned herself, and saith unto Him ‘Rabboni; which is to say Master.” (Jn 20:16)
However, Jesus says “Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren…”
And what was Jesus wanting His brethren to know after He had risen from the dead?
“…and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and YOUR FATHER; And to My God, and YOUR GOD.” (Vrs. 17) That’s what His death had accomplished! Our sins were washed away and we were given the right to become the sons of God. What a merciful God!
“God treated Christ as a sinner, so He could treat sinners like Christ.” (Rand Hummel)
Romans tells us that “The wages of sin is death.” This was our sentence to pay. Jesus had never sinned. He did not owe this debt. Yet He willingly paid it for us, and the resurrection is proof that God accepted His payment. Christ’s death and resurrection has given us direct access to the Father once more. And this good news was what Christ wanted to share with Mary and His disciples on that Easter morning so many years ago.
Time passed. Jesus was going to go to His Father again, now that he’d made it possible for us to join Him someday.
“A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me, because I go to the Father [who is also now YOUR Father]. In that day, ye shall ask in My name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me and have believed that I came from God. ” (John 17:16, 26-27).
“And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.” Their response? No more sorrow! “And they worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.” Knowing the resurrected Christ certainly changed their outlook on everyday life, but even beyond that, we see their lives (and ours!) being changed for all of eternity!
Because of Christ’s death, bodily resurrection, and ascension, we now have the confident hope and expectation that one day
“the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin: and the strength of the sin is the law. But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Cor 15:52-58)
There IS hope. He IS coming back. And for those of us who have chosen to accept His finished work on the cross, there WILL be an eternity to spend with Him. The resurrection is proof of this.
Can’t wait to meet my Savior in person, throw myself at his feet, and thank Him for all He did.
I am forever indebted.