But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen!
As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.
Easter is a time when many picture a dead Jesus hung on the cross. The cross is incredible; on the cross Jesus carried my sins and set me free. He died that I could live. When I read the account of the events leading up to the cross, and get to the account of Barabbas, the man who deserved to die but was set free because Christ went to the cross instead - I see myself. Jesus was no helpless victim; he was and is almighty God, with all the legions of angels at his command. At any time he could have come down in power and shown the world who he really was... it was not the nails that held him to the cross, but his love for you and for me!
Yet incredible as the cross was and still is in terms of its continuing effect in my life, it is not the dead Jesus hung on the cross that I see. I see the risen, ascended and glorified Christ. The son of man, ascended to the right hand of almighty God, seated on the throne, with every power, principality, and authority under his feet. Shining in the dazzling glory of the Father's own radiance with all the angelic host fallen prostrate and crying "Holy!" I see this Jesus, the first-fruit from among the dead, pouring out the same Spirit that raised him up upon those who believe in him. I see this Jesus taking up his scepter and ruling over the nations, not through political might or military conquest, but as this resurrection life that he so gloriously demonstrated when he burst forth from the tomb on that first easter morn is spread from one transformed life to another through the power of the greatest news of all:
"Christ has risen! He has defeated sin and death, and because he died and rose again, we can know the life that God intended for us, not just in heaven, but right here right now... all he asks us to do is that we give him what belongs to him anyway... everything!"