“He Is Not Here, But Is Risen,” Friend, Apr. 2000, inside front cover
Jesus the Christ was born in a lowly manger. He walked the dusty roads of Palestine. His message was the gospel of peace. His teachings were those of generosity and love. He performed miracles the like of which were never performed before or since. He healed those whose sickness was of long standing. He caused the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk. He raised the dead, and they lived again to speak His praises.
Was not all of this enough to make His memory immortal? Certainly He would have been ranked among the great prophets of all time. But all of this was but prelude to greater things to come. They came in a strange and terrible way.
He was betrayed, arrested, condemned to death, to die in awful agony by crucifixion. His living body was nailed to a cross of wood. In unspeakable pain, His life slowly ebbed away. While yet He breathed, He cried out, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
The earth shook as His spirit passed. The centurion who had seen it all declared in solemnity, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matt. 27:54).
Those who loved Him took His body from the cross. They dressed it and placed it in a new tomb. The tomb was sealed with a great stone, and a guard was set.
His friends must have wept. The Apostles He loved and whom He had called as witnesses of His divinity wept. The women who loved Him wept. None had understood what He had said about rising the third day. How could they understand? This had never happened before. It was unbelievable, even for them.
There must have been a terrible sense of dejection and hopelessness and misery as they thought of their Lord taken from them in death.
But that was not the end. On the morning of the third day, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary returned to the tomb. To their utter amazement, the stone was rolled away and the tomb was open. They peered inside. Two beings in white sat at either end of the burial site and said, “Why seek ye the living among the dead?
“He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5–6).
These simple words have become the most profound in all literature. They are the declaration of the empty tomb. They are the fulfillment of all He had spoken of rising again. They are the triumphant response to the query facing every man, woman, and child who was ever born to earth. Only a God could do what He did. He broke the bonds of death. His Resurrection was the greatest event in human history.
As servants of the Almighty, as prophets and apostles in His great cause, we lift our voices in witness and testimony of our immortal Savior. He is our triumphant Lord. He is our Redeemer who atoned for our sins. Through His redeeming sacrifice all men shall rise from the grave. He has opened the way whereby we may gain not only immortality but also eternal life. Of all the things for which I feel grateful, I am most thankful for the gift of my Lord and my Redeemer.