As the month of April unfolds, Christians across the globe are moving toward “Holy Week” and the commemoration of events associated with the last week of Jesus Christ’s life on earth. Beginning with Palm Sunday, believers recall Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem leading up to his crucifixion, death, burial and ultimate resurrection celebrated on the following Sunday.
One of the most moving accounts associated with the resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred when the women who came to anoint the body of Jesus, who was crucified three days prior, found an empty tomb.
Luke 24:1-9 in the New Living Translation describe this sequence of events:
But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.
The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”
Then they remembered that he had said this. So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened.
This record of the women at the empty tomb became the inspiration for this poetic sharing which ends with the traditional greeting and response heard on the morning of the resurrection:
The account of the women at the empty tomb
Though we did not journey with the women
In the dark before dawn that first day,
Nor were we walking, weeping with them when
Two angels spoke, nor did we hear them say,
“He is not here but risen as he said;
Recall that on the third day he should rise;
Why seek you the living among the dead?”
Though we did not see with our naked eyes,
In our hearts we know God’s desire to bless.
Though we did not touch Christ nor did we see
The open tomb, yet we still bear witness.
We have a more sure word of prophecy.
By the Spirit, fruit of our Promised Seed,
We surely know He is risen, risen, indeed.
This year the message of the resurrection resounds once again, as Chuck Swindoll, evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator and radio minister, reminds us,
“Our identity as Christians is strengthened as we stand in the lengthening shadows of saints down through the centuries, who have always answered back in antiphonal voice: ‘He is risen, indeed!’”