Think of your best friend. Think of someone you care about and deeply respect, someone who has been there through your ups and downs and mentored you and cried with you.
Have someone? Good, because this is about to get morbid.
Imagine what you would do if they died. If they not only died but were killed for all those ideals they’d taught you.
Imagine the funeral and all the emotions you’d be going through. Think about that.
Now, imagine that a few days later you went to visit their grave. You’ve come with the flowers clutched in your hand, in your best suit/dress, ready to say some parting words you couldn’t get out in front of all those people at the funeral.
Now. Imagine this.
When you get there, you see a six foot deep hole in the ground. You peer in and see the coffin lying open. Your friend is gone.
What’s your first reaction? (If that story sounds similar to one you’ve heard before, forget that. Apply this to your life and your life only.)
A dream, maybe. A hallucination. You rub your eyes and ask Siri where the nearest mental institution is. You look around to make sure you have the right plot. You wonder if your friend’s family forgot to tell you something.
Then you hear someone behind you ask, “What are you looking for?”
You might say something like, “I’m looking for my friend’s grave. I thought it was here.” Perhaps you wouldn’t say, “My friend was buried right here, and now he’s gone!” for fear of sounding insane.
“Who is it you are looking for?”
You say your friend’s name and add, “Do you know what might have happened? Are grave robbers still a thing?”
Then the person you’re speaking with says your name. You turn, astonished. There is your friend. He stands before you, alive, with a wry smile on his face.
What do you do now? Pull out your calendar and make sure it’s not April Fool’s Day? Pinch yourself to see if you’ll wake up?
Sometimes we forget how insane the resurrection is. Even when Jesus warned them, the disciples still didn’t get it. Even when He came back, a lot of them didn’t get it! But then again, neither would we.
Our generation, with its cynical thinking, would blame everything from drugs to stress. But people don’t come back to life. They just don’t.
And don’t be fooled: it wasn’t any different in first century Jerusalem. Sure, those closest to Jesus had seen many miracles, even a handful of resurrections. But they saw that power defeated on the cross. Jesus had succumbed to death; how could He overcome it now?
What would it take for you to believe that your friend had really come back? Would you need to touch his face, to confirm that others can see him too, to hear him speak and watch him walk and see him living and breathing in front of you?
Don’t be ashamed. I would need all that. Others in the Bible (most famously Thomas) needed that too. There’s nothing wrong with needing proof. It restores and enhances our faith to know that it’s grounded in fact.
My family visited a new church this morning (we’re on vacation), and the pastor spoke about how our doubts are not a bad thing. They lead us to curiosity, to a longing to know more.
When you see your friend standing before you, alive, you want to know the how and the why. You want to learn about this miracle. You strive to know more.
After you’ve been convinced that your friend is alive once more, what are you going to do? Do you go home and say, “Well, that’s cool. Never seen anything like that before. What’s on TV tonight?”
Probably not. My guess is that you would go, first of all, to your friends and family and say, “Our friend is not dead after all! He’s here! He’s alive!” You’d tell those closest to you, and after that, the world. You want them to know.
Now, your friend is not God. But Jesus was and is and will be for all eternity. He has risen from the grave. In every other account of resurrection in the Bible, they were raised either by prophets imbued with God’s power or by Jesus Himself. Never before had a person raised himself from the dead. It couldn’t be done. Even the most powerful prophets couldn’t bring themselves back after they had passed on.
He has given us proof. The empty tomb and numerous eyewitness accounts have provided us with ample evidence. His power is real.
Surely this man was the Son of God! (Mark 15:39)
Look, there stands your Friend! Your great Teacher, the One who saves, the Master of the universe. He was dead, but now He is alive. No, no, you’re not going insane. This man–our God–raised Himself from the grave. He fought with death and won.
How much more can He do for us? If death cannot hurt Him, and we are under His protection, death cannot hurt us.
This is not the end. You believe–now tell the world! The disciples’ first instincts on learning of Jesus’ resurrection were to tell about it.
These men had been cowering in locked rooms mere days, hours before. Seeing their Savior, their Lord, their Friend alive and well, having overpowered the mysterious Death, they found a confidence they had never had before.
These days we forget how astonishing the resurrection is.
He is alive.
Even those who were raised from the dead in the Bible died again eventually. Jesus is the only one to stare death in the face, defeat it entirely, and go straight up to the Father.
In His death we are reconciled to God, but in His life we are given life eternal.
As Easter draws to a close, let’s not forget to celebrate these facts throughout the rest of the year. This is pivotal to our faith. It’s the very reason we can believe. Because our Friend overcame the grave, so can we. Death–the punishment for sin–can no longer hurt us. That’s the very definition of mercy.
On Easter Christians hear and say the phrase “He is risen!” and the proper response is “He is risen indeed!”
1 used to emphasize a statement or response confirming something already suggested: it was not expected to last long, and indeed it took less than three weeks | “She should have no trouble hearing him.” “No indeed.”
Indeed. Yes, indeed. It’s true. It’s all true. We confirm it by what we say. Indeed, He is alive. Our Friend and Redeemer is here. We thought we were all crazy–maybe we are. But here He is. He stands in front of us, showing us His scars–the scars that were to be ours, that He took for us. Indeed. He has defeated our worst enemy, the thing we fear the most in this world. Indeed. Our Christ is alive. Our God died, but now He stands before us in victory. Indeed. Yes. He has risen indeed.
Let’s go out into this world and proclaim the greatness of our Lord. Don’t let this be the only day you stand in awe of His glory. Let’s us stand together and say with the apostle Paul:
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
– 1 Corinthians 15:55-58