Matthew 28:5-6. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
I’m sure the first Easter Sunday morning looked nothing like our normal Easter Sundays. No lilies. No baked ham. No chocolate bunnies or plastic eggs. Just a group of distraught women coming to say their goodbyes to their son, teacher, and friend.
But, of course, that morning there was no goodbye. No preparation of a dead body. Only the most shocking news in all of history. He is not here, for he has risen.
We notice that the angel didn’t say “He’s everywhere now.” He said he is not here. Why? Because Jesus arose from the dead bodily and walked out of the tomb. The same body that went into the grave, came out of the grave.
Many people believe that our only hope for eternal life is to live on in the memories of those who loved us. Or maybe our souls live on as they are joined to a universal soul or consciousness.
But the resurrection of Christ promises us something far greater. Not only are we joined to Christ spiritually, but we are also joined to his life physically. We will live forever bodily, just as Jesus is living and breathing bodily right now.
You see God never gave up on his creation. He loves it. He always has and he always will. God loved his creation so much that he became his creation. By his incarnation Jesus became a person. Why? So that through him there can be a regeneration of all things.
In his death Jesus absorbed creation’s curse, and in his resurrection he became the first-fruits of the new creation. Now Jesus is our archetype of what all of us will be. The same body, but much, much better. Not merely living on in the memories of others. Not just some ethereal spirit floating in eternal space. Not a wave returning to the ocean, or some non-conscience energy released into the universe. None of these would be life. Why? Because none of these is joy or happiness. None of these is purpose or meaning. None of these is love. And none of these is Christ.
Simply put, a non-physical eternity would not allow us to know and worship God as God intended. Nor would it allow us to love God and one another. How could a non-physical being ever sacrifice for another? How could all we’ve done in the flesh ever be exchanged for grace and glory if the flesh ceases to exist? How could our sin ever be cleansed and transformed if our bodies are not transformed?
Beyond this, a non-physical, spiritual only resurrection would not allow God to love us. Not fully. Not as he promised. How could he possibly redeem all of our suffering, suffering that he has willed for us to experience in our physical bodies, if he didn’t restore everything to us physically?
Maybe you’re feeling today like the women who went to Jesus’ tomb on that Easter morning. Maybe your feeling hopeless today? Maybe your days have been shattered by a great loss. The personal loss of a job, or a relationship, or of a special event or season that you should have been able to experience but never will. Or maybe it’s all the hopelessness of confronting the bigger obstacles in this world like injustice and hatred.
Today the words of the angels are for you. Do not be afraid. Why? Because the one that you thought was dead is alive. All that you thought you had lost will be restored. All that was hopeless will be transformed. All that was taken from you will be returned to you one hundred fold. Every promise that appears to have been broken by God will be fulfilled. Every pain turned into pleasure. Every tear turned into triumph. Every grief turned into glory. Every scar a trophy of God’s love and grace.
“To live is Christ” is not only a union with Christ’s spiritual existence forever (which it is). It is a union with Christ’s bodily, physical existence forever. May this hope of the glorious renewal of all things sustain and empower us as we live through days of pain and loss, hopelessness and hurt, until that day when we too will walk out of our graves into the presence of the Son. Until then do not be afraid.
What pain of loss are you feeling today?
You in Christ
How are you comforted by the truth of the resurrection today?
Christ in you
How can your fear of loss be replaced with trust in the resurrection yet to come?
Playlist: Songs of resurrection.