“He is not here. He is risen!” By Andrew Coxhead and John Hobson
Although only just over three months into 2020, my guess this year will be remembered for one saying, these words, “stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.” Last year, 2019, if you haven’t already forgotten it, it was probably “Brexit, get it done”. Throughout history some words have inspired hope, comforted the grieving, and motivated others to reach for new heights. But of all the words ever spoken, none have echoed through the ages and changed the course of history as the words spoken by an angel at the empty tomb of Jesus: “He is not here. He is risen!”
While, every Sunday is a witness that Jesus rose from the dead, Easter Sunday provides a wonderful opportunity to consider the significance of the resurrection.
The cross on which Jesus died is vital, because it was the means through which we can be forgiven for our sins. But without the resurrection on the third day it would be incomplete. Listen to what the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15 v. 17: “if Christ has not been raised then you are still in your sins". 1 Corinthians 15, often read at funerals, is a chapter in the Bible that encourages and gives hope because it presents Christ as the mighty conqueror who removes the sting of death and promises an eternal future for all who put their trust in Him.
Key verses from 1 Corinthians 15 New International Version (NIV)
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born….
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep….
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendour of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendour of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendour, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendour.
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body….
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain
Because He is alive and has been given all authority in heaven and earth, He is able to bring hope to our hurting and fallen world. Although He does not guarantee freedom from troubles in this life, as we are experiencing at the moment with coronavirus (co-vid19), with staying home, with self-isolating, with shielding, with safe distancing, with uncertainty regards our employment, with perhaps financial hardship, with the real feeling of being alone, with perhaps fear and anxiety for friends or family not feeling well, with perhaps sorrow and grief of loss of those we love, He does promise to be with us in these and all our troubles. Jesus is alive and protects against a life of despair. The resurrection communicates a higher purpose. We understand that we are loved by our Creator. The resurrection reminds us that trials are temporary. We may have to carry a cross for a short time, but there is a resurrection into eternal glory.
But most important of all, the resurrection guarantees that all the promises of Christ are true including His promise to prepare a home in heaven for those who put their trust in Him. This Easter Sunday, we take comfort in the words of the angel, “He is not here, He is risen”.