He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” – Matt. 28:6-7 NIV
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Although Jesus Christ was crucified and buried on a day corresponding to a Friday, no one could visit his tomb the next day. The day of his burial was the eve of Sabbath so all that were concerned chose to observe the regulations of the Jewish Sabbath. That was how long Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna and the other women were going to wait, because very early on the first day after the Sabbath day, they were at the tomb with prepared spices only to witness the occurrence of a violent earthquake and an angel descending like lightening and rolling back the stone at the entrance of the tomb in a manner that got even the soldiers scared. This gave them access to the tomb, only to enter and discover that it was empty. Yes! An empty tomb – Matt. 28:2-7; Lk. 24:1-10. Still wondering what could have happened, the angel solved their puzzle. Telling them not to be scared, he in the foundation scripture for today’s devotional confirmed to them that he was not there as he has risen. They were to go and give this good news to his disciples that he was going ahead of them to Galilee where he is expecting them to meet with him.
Both women having confirmed this incident with their view of an empty tomb, ran with fear and joy in their heart to inform the disciples as directed. Jesus himself was to meet them on their way to confirm what they had seen and had been told. He had risen indeed and was going ahead of them all to Galilee – Matt. 28:8-10. The account of Luke also included the advise of the angels to the women not to seek the living amongst the dead – Lk. 24:5. These women received further instructions to inform the disciples led by Simon Peter that he has risen as he said, but who in his unbelief ran towards the tomb to confirm what the women had said. This he also found to be true – Lk. 24:9-12.
Jesus had hitherto been telling the disciples of his being divinely destined to die but that he will rise again on the third day – Matt. 20:18. They did hear him but obviously did not believe. He could have been speaking all that time to the walls because his audience in general and his disciples in particular either out of insufficient understanding of what he was saying or outright unbelief, did not take his statements seriously. One can only wonder that was going on in their minds all the while that he was talking about dying and rising again. What was however obvious is their reluctance to want him to die and their initial resistance to those who came for him – Jn. 18:10. That they were willing to defend him was not in doubt. Even Judas Iscariot was to regret his action on of betraying him – Matt. 27:1-5. He had probably thought he could rake in some additional funds for himself only to be left devastated by the fact that Jesus did not disappear like in previous occasions – Jn. 12:6; Lk. 4:30; Jn. 8:59.
Indeed, there are many Christians today who sincerely love Jesus Christ, at least if only for the stories about his time on earth and all that he experienced. For most of these people, the stories make for good reading and probably good for making very engaging movies but they simply do not believe what it represents.
The story of Jesus is real! It is not another tale by moonlight! He is actually the second person in the Trinity who by virtue of his immaculate conception became the first son of God – Col. 1:15. He came for the purpose of sacrificing his life to save man from the weight of sin that had practically condemned man to eternal damnation. He indeed died and was buried and was not found in his tomb on the morning of the third day. This is despite the fact that a big stone had been used to seal the entrance of the tomb with soldiers on guard (Matt. 27:66), but an angel rolled back the stone right in the presence of the women and the soldiers only for them to go in and see an empty tomb. He was not stolen away by his disciples as concocted and alleged by the Pharisees and the elders (Matt. 28:13), he did not even need to have the stone rolled away for him to walk out as the tomb was already empty by the time the stone was rolled away. He simply rose and all the paraphernalia of death could not hold him down. Death it self was powerless before him. He had put death to shame and with him death had lost its sting while the grave had lost its powers – 1Cor. 15:55-58. He had publicly shamed the devil and his angels making a public spectacle of them all – Col. 2:15. The agents of the devil could not bear the shame and had to start cooking up stories in an attempt to cover up their failure and shame. What a great victory for the Almighty God and all those who accept this his sacrifice.
Unfortunately, many are yet to believe this great act of salvation by Jesus Christ and so cannot receive the great gift of salvation of God for man. It is only for those who believe not to perish but have everlasting life – Jn. 3:16.
This unbelief is not restricted to non-Christians alone but unfortunately is present amongst Christians. So many people there are today who claim to be Christians but actually do not still believe. Like Thomas, they need to touch the holes through which the nails pierced him to believe – Jn. 20:25. That is why the Christian life does not seem to favour them as Jesus told Thomas that only those who did not see but believe will be blessed – Jn. 20:29. One can only wonder what the fate of those who want to see before they believe will be. This unbelief is what is depriving such individuals of peaceful life in this realm. They continue to operate in their own ability that will not yield a permanent result, if a result is obtained at all. They live a life weighed down by sin when they can enjoy that of conferred righteousness – Rom. 1:17, Isa. 54:17. They live a life of a victim rather than that greater than even the life of victors – Rom. 8:31-39. Above all is that they live a life of hopelessness in the life after life. There is no assurance of peace in the life after life – Jn. 14:1-3. What a wasted life that will be. Give value to your living in this realm. He rose indeed and there is no doubt about that. Bring yourself into that belief as that remains your only path to having peace in this world and in the life after life. May God help our unbelief in Jesus name. Amen.