Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee.” (Matthew 28:5-7)
The witnesses to the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ will see remarkable things before the sun sets on this day. They will see three men being executed in a manner reserved for Rome’s worst enemies. They will see the earth covered in a darkness that even midnight would not recognize. They will hear the ring of the hammer driving the spikes into the flesh of the condemned and their cries of pain. They will hear the demon-fueled laughter of the soldiers as they do their jobs and vent their rage. They will feel the earth shake beneath their feet causing them to stumble just to maintain their balance. However, what the witnesses will not see is what is unfolding behind the scenes in the invisible realm of the spirit.
The battle of the ages is raging and nearing an end. This battle has raged from eternity past. It began on the day when Lucifer challenged God for His throne. He wanted far more than just God’s power to rule over all of creation … he wanted the worship and adoration of heaven to be turned away from God and given to him. At stake in this battle were the souls of all mankind. If Satan wins the battle, the souls of mankind will be forever lost and the title deed to the earth will be eternally forfeited. If Jesus wins the battle, the doors of Heaven will open again and men can choose to be reconciled to God and live forever in heaven with Him.
Satan and every demon present on Calvary’s brow that day leaped for joy when the last breath left the lungs of Jesus and He hung limp on the bloodied and soiled cross. They cheered when the His blood stopped running from His open wounds no longer dripping into the puddle of blood which had formed at the foot of the cross. As Jesus was buried in a sealed tomb, Satan was confident he had finally won the battle against God. The Promised Redeemer has failed. His mouth is silent and His eyes are closed under the shroud of death. His body grows stiff and cold in the clutches of the grave. Never again will any man feel the warmth of His loving touch. Never again will any man hear the melody of His comforting voice. Never again will any man be freed from sickness or taste the sweetness of His forgiving grace. Never again will an abused woman, lonely teenager, or abandoned child feel the security of His love.
Satan thought this was the end of the story, but he was wrong. Two sunrises later everything changed. Two sunrises later an angel shouted and the earth shook rolling away the stone sealing His grave. Two sunrises later the Holy Spirit stepped into the darkness of His tomb and raised Him to life. Two sunrises later Jesus walked out of the tomb clutching the keys to death, hell and the grave! Two sunrises later Jesus was bestowed His new title … King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
The scarlet thread of redemption’s story runs through the whole of the Bible. We find its origin in the words of Genesis … “In the beginning God.” We find its defining moment in the words of Jesus on the cross … “It is finished!” We find its crowning glory in the words of Revelation’s invitation … “Whosoever will may come.” “He is Risen” is far more than just a statement that we proclaim at Easter. It is the anchor to which all of our hopes are tethered.