He Has Risen Just as He Said
In the spirit of Easter and Resurrection Sunday, let us recall the wonderful and most important story of them all – the story of Christ’s resurrection. Sometimes, the details that are often missed can be very refreshing to our memories and hearts.
The Empty Tomb
We begin with Matthew 28:1-7. Here is the setting. It is the first day of the week. It is three days after Christ was put in the grave. It is the day after the Sabbath. In numerous accounts throughout the four gospels, it is promised that Jesus will be in the grave three days and then He will resurrect. This is the third day and He has risen.
The four accounts put four women on the scene. Mary Magdalene, Mary (mother of James), Salome, and Joanna. It was a small group of women who cared for Jesus. However, they were not seeking to find a resurrected Christ although it was taught them this. Rather, the accounts say that they came bearing spices. They were coming to anoint the body of Jesus one more time before the decay process began.
They apparently did not believe in the resurrection. There were no anticipating it. Otherwise, there would be no need for such anointing. This can also be concluded from Mark 16 because it tells us that they questioned each other “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” The stone was much to heavy for these women. So they wondered who would do it for them. Why inquire if there is resurrection? They simply did not believe in the resurrection. They came because they were moved with sympathy for Jesus.
Next, we read that an earthquake occurs. It was not caused by the resurrection. Christ had already resurrected. Later, in the story we find that he can walk through solid objects and instantly transport Himself anywhere. So He must have walked right through the tomb and the outer chambers or just transported somewhere else. But He was not there.
Verse 2 tells us that the angel caused the earthquake. The arrival of the angel in specific. This must have startled the women and filled them with fear as it did the Roman guards who were guarding the grave. Verse 4 says that they “shook with fear and became like dead men.” They were scared into a coma. The lightning flash of the angel breaking through the dimensions of this world and the power that they posses caused an earthquake tremble that stirred the women.
Since the stone was not rolled away for Christ to exit, it must have been rolled away for people to enter. So the women approached the tomb. Mary Magdalene does not hesitate to take off back to Peter and John. She did not even see the angel or enter the tomb in order to see what happens. She was so took off guard and left with the quickness. And apparently, from John’s gospel, we find that she was so worried that someone had taken the body of Jesus.
The other women continued. Matthew continues by describing the angel. He countenance was like lightning. He was a fearful sight. So he has to calm down the women saying, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”
Notice that the angels says “He has risen, just as He said.”The women must have been told this before, but it just didn’t compute. The resurrection just didn’t register in their minds. But it is important to note here that the angel says that Christ’s resurrection affirms His own words. “It has happened as He said it would happen.” And thus, Christ is affirmed for who He said He is – the Sovereign Son of God!
The evidence was all there. The angel said “Come, see the place where He was lying.” The empty tomb, the unconscious Roman guards, the angels (there was another inside the tomb), and the grave clothes left as if the body just left them, all point to the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. It really happened.
All this is taking place pretty quickly. In fact it was likely minutes that past before the women were running back to the disciples. The angel said “Go quickly and tell His disciples.” So their sympathy was moved to terror. Now, their terror is moved to joy. They are probably so emotionally charged right now that they cannot contain themselves. I bet they ran back faster than they have ever ran before.
While all of this was occurring, May was telling Peter and John that someone had stolen the body of Jesus. She did not know what the other women knew since she darted out so quickly. Peter and John were both perplexed. They were in disbelief and angry that it may be true. So they ran just as quickly to the tomb.