He is Risen
Each year at Easter the worship leader comes to the microphone to begin the service and energetically says, “He is risen.”
It usually takes three attempts but eventually there is a semi-crisp response. “He is risen, indeed.”
Some among us assume that we are trying to recreate the triumphal moment on the first Easter morning. The followers of Jesus came to the tomb and saw that he was not there and cried. “He is Risen ..,.He is risen indeed”.
Actually, it didn’t happened that way.
Mary Magdalene arrived first with some women and saw the empty tomb and ran to tell the disciples “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb.” (John 20:1-2; Mark 16:1-8)
Peter and John ran to the tomb. As John remembered the momentous morning decades later, he looked inside, went inside and believed. He noted that the disciples did not understand that Jesus had to rise from the dead. (John 20:3-9)
They leave and Mary saw two angels in the tomb. They asked her why she was crying and she told them that Jesus’ body had been removed from the tomb. (John 20:10-13)
She turned and saw a man that she assumed was the gardener. She asked him if he had moved the body. (John 20:13-15)
Finally Jesus spoke her name and she realized that it was Jesus and that he was alive. She went to the disciples and told them what had happened. (John 20:16-18)
That evening the disciples were not empowered by the news of the resurrection. They were hiding in fear. (John 20:19-23)
This is very different from a victorious “His is risen…..He is risen indeed”.
Earlier, on the day of the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John saw a radiant Jesus talking with Elijah and Moses. As they came down the mountain Jesus told them not to talk about the incident until after he rose from the dead. The kept quiet but wondered what rising from the dead might mean. (Mark 9:9-10)
Just before Jesus gave the Great Commission Matthew recorded that some in the group doubted. (Matthew 28:17)
In the less than two months from Jesus’ lessons to the disciples the night before he died until the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the disciples wrestled with doubts. They had an incomplete understanding of the mission of Messiah. However, empowered by the Holy Spirit, they led the dramatic growth of the church recorded in the first chapters of the book of Acts
We stand on their shoulders and we can say, “He is Risen..He is risen indeed.”
Do you ever have doubts about key elements of the Christian faith?
How do you face your doubts?