The resurrection of Jesus Christ happened 2,000 years ago. How can we, who are so far removed from that first Easter, be sure it happened? So much depends on whether it is true. Without the resurrection there is no hope for life beyond the grave. Without the resurrection there is no assurance that God is in control. Without the resurrection there is no guarantee that love is greater than hatred. How do we know that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is real?
First, there is circumstantial evidence – an empty tomb. Listen to verse 6 of our text for today “the angel said: “here is the place where they laid Him.” On the way to the tomb, the three women were asking themselves “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance of the tomb?” The question indicates that they did not expect a resurrection even though they must have heard Jesus say several times, “and on the third day I will rise again.”
If the resurrection were a fabrication, a hoax, the question would not be asked. Well, who did roll away the stone? Mark does not tell us. We learn from St. Paul that God Himself raised up Jesus. (Romans 4:24; 8:11) He moved the stone! Man could not do it – not the stone of death. All the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men would not be able to conquer death. This was the Father’s act of grace and victory!
The young man mentioned in Mark’s gospel identifies the risen one as the man Jesus from Nazareth who was crucified. This gives reality to the Easter story. The risen Christ is not a spirit. The resurrected person was Jesus from the town of Nazareth. He was killed on a cross. He was truly dead and buried.
There is no room here for a “spiritual” or a “symbolic” resurrection! We must not spiritualize the account of the first Easter. It was not a resurrection of the spirit or the soul of Jesus. The body, the whole person of Jesus, rose from the dead on that first Easter.
Then there is the witness of God’s messenger, an angel, as well as the testimony of the Word of God. Listen to verse 15: “And entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting at the right wearing a white robe and they were amazed. And he said, “why seek the living among the dead. He is not here, He is risen from the dead.”
There is no such thing as a dead Christ. Why seek the living among the dead? He will not be found in the tombs of the dead. He is alive! Why seek Him there?
The grave could not hold Jesus in. He rose from the dead on the third day. The disciples’ testimony is true. “We are witnesses of these events; We have seen Him with our own eyes.” This Jesus who was crucified is now alive forevermore. The grave could not hold Him. See the place where they laid Him. He is not here. He is risen from the dead!
Finally, there is the experience of the living Christ – He will be seen in Galilee, “there you will see Him just as He said.”(Mark 16:7) The angel instructs the women to tell the disciples, and Peter, to meet Jesus in Galilee as Jesus had told them. In Mark’s account of the resurrection the risen Christ does not appear. He will meet them in Galilee. Thus we are reminded by the message of the angel to heed the word of the Savior. Time and again He predicted His bodily resurrection. The women found the tomb empty. Where would they find Him?
They find Him at the very place where Jesus had directed them – in Galilee. Likewise, in your life, you find the risen Savior at the place where He has directed us – in the waters of Baptism, in the elements of Bread and Wine, in His very words and promises of Holy Scripture. The women hurried off to Galilee and there they found Him as the angel predicted. Will you too find Him where He has directed you? Search the Scriptures. There you will find Him alive. He cannot deny Himself. Jesus is risen just as He said! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!