The joyful message of Easter is “The Lord is risen!” On the third day after Jesus died the women went to the tomb early in the morning, just before sunrise. They had bought spices and were going to anoint Jesus’ body. As they walked they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
When they arrived at the tomb, however, they saw that the very large stone had been rolled away from the entrance. They went into the tomb, but did not see Jesus’ body. Two men, in clothes that gleamed like lightning, appeared to them and asked, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, he has risen!” The women ran to tell Jesus’ disciples the news, but they did not believe them, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Later in the day Jesus appeared to the disciples personally. Then they knew that he really had been raised from the dead.
The resurrection transformed Jesus’ disciples. They were devastated when they saw him condemned and crucified. They saw the body of the One who was so full of life, and who brought blessing to so many, hanging lifeless on the cross. They were broken-hearted. The hopes Jesus had kindled in them died when he died, but when they saw their risen Lord their hopes returned with new reality and power. Jesus sent them out to proclaim to all people the good news that he had died for our sins and been raised again to give us a living hope. The lives of countless people, from all nations, have been transformed as they have believed in the risen Jesus.
Last week my wife and I went to a thanksgiving service for the life of a dear friend who has died from cancer. She was a young person in our first church and, as a teenager, trusted Jesus as her Saviour. For the past 40 years she has been a bright witness for Jesus to her family and friends. One of her friends told us she had given him a book, “Heaven is for Real!” As Christine drew near to the end of her life, the reality of heaven, and Jesus’ love for her, sustained her. She knew that, after she died, she was going to be in heaven with Jesus, her risen Saviour and Lord. His promise to all who trust in him is “Because I live, you also will live.”