He is Risen

As we enter into Holy Week, it’s time to focus on the three most powerful words in the entire Bible:

He is risen.

You see, “He is risen,” is quite frankly the answer to just about every important question you can ask.

What happens after we die?
He is risen.
Will I overcome cancer?
He is risen.
Will I see my child again?
Will I beat this addiction?
Is there hope for those in darkness?

Without “He is risen,” the answer to these questions become, No one is sure. Maybe. I don’t know. How strong are you? That depends.

When we read the resurrection story in the book of Matthew, we’re told there was an earthquake when the angel moved the stone away from the entrance to the tomb. His countenance was like lightning, and the guards shook with fear. The angel then told the women plainly, “He is not here; he is risen just as he said.”

In Mark, the angel said simply, “Don’t be alarmed…He has risen! He is not here.”

In Luke, the women are told, “He is not here; he is risen just as he said.”

The three words, He is risen, are powerful in their simplicity.

You see, just a few days ago, if you were a disciple and had asked, “Where is our Lord? What does all this mean?” you would have gotten something similar to the following speech:

Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, then after a little while you will see me?’ I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born, she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything.

Now the time for speeches is over, and the bluntness of these words remain.

“Where is Jesus?”

He is risen.

The music group Tree63 once sang in “The Answer to the Question:”

I’m growing tired of a mouth shut tight
when all I want to do is tell the whole world
about the Man sitting at the right
hand of the One in Heaven.
How could I sing about anything but Him?

He is the answer to the question
He is the cure for the infection
He is all He says He is.
He is the ultimate reflection
of holiness and true perfection
He is all He says He is.

How can I not cry watching as the
world dies without a prayer?
They look to their own construction
bound to the living God of Earth and Heaven.
How could they sing about everything but Him?

But I propose that the answer to the question isn’t just “Jesus.”

It’s, He is risen.

It think it’s very interesting that the gospels begin with an angel appearing to Mary, and they end that way too.

In John, Jesus appears after his death to Mary Magdalene, whom many believe was a former prostitute, and says kindly, “Do not hold on to me. I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

The words, He is risen, are important because they shape our faith in eternity, true. But they are even more important than that.

When we face our darkest moments on earth and look for God inside our own empty tombs – dreams that have been buried, plans that have fallen apart, sorrows that seem like a coffin – when we look into a pit of hopelessness for our God, these words are there to guide us.

Why do you look for the living among the dead?

Why are you looking for a dead God inside a tomb? He is not here. He has risen, just as he said.

Our God may walk along beside us into that pit, but he doesn’t stay there.

As the angel told the three women, “He is going ahead of you. There you will find him.”

Which brings us back to the all-important answer to our questions.

Is there hope for me?
How will I get my life back together?
Will I ever make it out?
What’s going to happen to my family?

Don’t be discouraged, my friend.

He has risen.