"Early on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb while it was still dark and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. ..." John 20:1 (Cf. John 20:1ff.; Matt. 28:1ff.; Mark 16:1ff.; Luke 24:1ff.; 1 Cor. 15)
The stone was rolled away, the tomb was empty, and the burial clothes of Jesus were lying there, but Jesus was not there -- He had risen from the dead!
He appeared to Mary Magdalene outside the tomb, to the other women as they ran back into Jerusalem, to Peter, to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, to all the disciples on numerous occasions, and even to more than 500 brethren at once. Angels proclaimed His resurrection, and Jesus' own followers finally came to understand and believe that Jesus really was alive -- He had risen, as He said!
But what about you? Do you believe that Jesus rose bodily from the dead on the third day -- that He really is alive? Like Jesus' first disciples, we too may be "slow of heart to believe what the prophets have spoken!" (Luke 24:25).
As the Scriptures say, "It was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:46-47).
The Scriptures foretold how Christ Jesus would suffer and die and bear the iniquity of us all, and how He would rise again in triumph and establish His everlasting kingdom (cf. Isa. 53; Ps. 22). Jesus truly did die for the sins of the whole world, and He truly did rise again from the dead on the third day!
So, why is it that we often live our lives as though He were not raised from the dead -- as though He were still in the tomb?
Why do we go about our lives as though God were unwilling to forgive us? The Bible assures us that "Jesus our Lord ... was delivered for our transgressions, and was raised for our justification" (Rom. 4:24,25). Jesus paid in full for our sins -- "it is finished" (John 19:30). He was raised that we might look to Him in faith and be accounted righteous. God reaches out to us with open arms! He calls us to repent and offers to us forgiveness and life through faith in the crucified and risen Christ Jesus!
Why do we live in fear of death? Jesus conquered death for us and rose again. The Scripture says, "But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came by man, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward, those who are Christ's at His coming" (1 Cor. 15:20-23). We, as Christians, need not fear death since Christ has removed our sin and the condemnation of God's law from us (cf. 1 Cor. 15:55-57; Heb. 2:14-17). And, indeed, when death comes to a believer, we need not "grieve as others who have no hope" (1 Thess. 4:13-18).
Why do we live our lives here in this world as though this is our home? "The Lord Jesus Christ ... gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father" (Gal. 1:3,4). He now prepares a place for those who trust in Him in the mansions of His Father's house, and He will soon come again and take all who believe to Himself to dwell forever with Him there (cf. John 14:2-3). All that is here in this world will soon be burned up -- only what is done as a fruit of faith in Christ will last (cf. 1 Cor. 3:13-15; 2 Pet. 3:10-13).
Why do we live our lives as though we have nothing to do for Christ Jesus here in this world? He commanded His disciples to "go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. ..." (Mark 16:15). He commanded us to disciple the nations (Matt. 28:18-20). Jesus rose from the dead! He won forgiveness of sins and eternal life for all, and He is coming again soon to judge this evil world! Shouldn't we be about the work of our Lord and calling lost sinners to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus? Apart from Him, there is no salvation (cf. Acts 4:12)!
And finally, why do we live our lives as though Jesus is not with us? He is risen from the dead, ascended to the right hand of God the Father, and rules over and fills all things (cf. Eph. 1:15-23). The risen Jesus is with us always, "even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:20).
Dear Lord Jesus Christ, our risen Savior, open up our minds to understand the Scriptures that we might not only believe that you truly are risen from the dead but live our lives by faith in Your glorious resurrection and all that this means for us now and forever. Amen.
[Devotion by Randy Moll. Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House. More of Moll's devotional writings can be found at www.goodshepherdrogers.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.]