By: Tresa Walker
Think about that feeling of waiting expectantly for something. Christmas and birthdays as a child, your wedding day, the birth of a baby, a long anticipated visit or trip, milestone birthdays (maybe when you were younger, now you probably dread those big birthdays). Most of the time, our wait is a few short weeks, months or maybe even years. But there is coming a day that Christians have awaited for nearly 2,000 years! John 5:28-29 says, “A time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come out — those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of judgment.” For believers, there is a glorious new life in our future that is much more than anything this earthly life can provide. The joy will far surpass anything we have anticipated here on earth, and it will be a joy that endures through eternity!
Easter is a time of celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but the events prior to the resurrection were heartbreaking for those who witnessed the events. Jesus was betrayed, arrested, tortured, and then crucified on a rugged cross and died for all to see. The Gospels retell the details of these events leading to the death of Jesus. After His death, His body was wrapped in linen cloth and placed in an empty tomb which was sealed with a heavy stone. The tomb was then secured by guards to ensure that no one could attempt to steal His body under cover of night and then falsely claim that Jesus had risen from the dead. But no stone or army of guards could have compromised God’s perfect plan!
On the third day, an angel appeared at the tomb and removed the stone causing the guards to collapse in shock. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James went to the tomb to anoint His body with burial spices, and the angel announced that Jesus had risen from the grave. The tomb was empty! Imagine the confusion the women must have felt. In Matthew 28:6, the angel said to the women, “He is not here! For he has been resurrected, just as he said.”
Just as He said! Jesus had predicted His own death and resurrection and tried to prepare His disciples for this moment on three different occasions. Matthew 16:21 says, “From then on Jesus began to point out to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.” Similar statements are also found in Matthew 17:23 and 20:18-19. This idea was completely incomprehensible to them, so they did not grasp the concept of resurrection and His future return.
The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of Christian belief. If Jesus had not resurrected from the grave, He would have simply been a great teacher. But He conquered death just as He predicted and as had been prophesied many times in the Old Testament 700 years prior to His crucifixion! Jesus was truly the long awaited Messiah, the Savior of the World which was precisely who He claimed to be! Everything prophesied had come to fruition. Everything believers of that time had trusted, shared, and held onto had become reality because death could not hold our Savior in the grave! And everything that we hope for today is irrevocable truth!
The story of Jesus did not end at the tomb. He arose victoriously from the grave! Therefore, the story of a Christian’s life doesn’t end at the grave either. This is confirmed in John 3:16-17 which says, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” His resurrection changed everything! It finalizes God’s promise of eternal life for those who believe. If there had been no resurrection, there would be no basis for our belief as Christians.
After hearing from the angel that Jesus had been raised from the grave and seeing the empty tomb, the two women left full of joy and ran to tell the good news of the resurrection. Jesus then met them on the road, and they immediately fell at His feet in worship. What a moment! Their beloved Jesus was alive! He had conquered death and rose from the grave just as he claimed he would do!
His resurrection gives us confidence that there is more to our existence than just this earthly life of pain and sorrow. It gives us hope of everlasting life with the almighty God. It gives us assurance that what we hope for is real. The resurrection fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament and secured the promise that followers of Jesus would have everlasting life. John 11:25 states, “Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live.’” Because Jesus is life, those who believe will be resurrected to new life with Him. Even when we die, death will not defeat believers; we will have eternal life. We will be raised to everlasting glory!
As Easter draws near, make time to reflect on the resurrection. Death did not win the victory. Jesus did! Reflect on the empty tomb that could not hold our Savior. Reflect on the witnesses who saw Him, touched Him, and worshiped Jesus in all His glory. Reflect on the love of a Savior who took onto himself every sin that you have ever committed and then suffered and died in your place so that you could have eternal life. Reflect on the promises of a resurrection to a new life in glory that we have been promised as believers. The resurrection for believers is coming! Until that day, worship Him, teach about Him so that others may believe, and faithfully wait with joy and anticipation for that day! What a day, glorious day that will be!