If the story of the cross ended at the tomb, we would have no hope. Sure, our sins were paid for, but the One who took our death penalty upon Himself was crucified. Now what?
Thankfully, when Jesus died for us, He also conquered death for us.
Jesus warned His disciples repeatedly that He must die, and that He would also rise again. But they did not fully comprehend what He was telling them, until that third day arrived.
“From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.” ~ Matthew 16:21 (NASB)
“‘The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.'” ~ Luke 9:22 (NASB)
The apostle Paul wrote beautifully of the hope of the resurrection:
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time…
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man [came] death, by man [came] also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive…
Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory? The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law. But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”~ 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, 19-22, 54b-57 (KJV)
Because Jesus rose from the dead, we have the hope of life after death. Death is not the end. Through Jesus Christ we have the promise of eternal life. Heaven. Forever and ever with Jesus! 🙂
(Oh, and did you notice all of the witnesses Paul mentioned? Over 500 people saw the risen Jesus!)
Peter proclaimed the good news to the crowds in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost:
“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know- this Man, delivered by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power…
This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.” ~ Acts 2:22-24, 32-33 (NASB)
So, imagine experiencing the horror of the crucifixion and burial of your Lord, arriving at the tomb early on the third day, and discovering the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Imagine.
“And the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead…’
And they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.” ~ Matthew 28:5-7a, 8-9 (NASB)
Don’t be afraid. Come… see… go… and tell others, with fear and great joy!
For He has risen, just as He said. Jesus lives! And He has given to us the hope of life eternal. 🙂