He Is Not Here!

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.” Matthew 28:5-8

We see in this passage the message of the angels to the women who came to finalize the preparations of Jesus’ body for burial with spices and ointments.  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary head to the tomb to complete this loving and noble task.  In Luke 23:56, we read that the women were not able to finish the task of embalming Jesus’ body at the time of His death. In order to keep the Sabbath day, they rest even from this important task. In the Jewish ordering of time, the Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday evening and ends at sundown on Saturday. This ordering of time is connected to Genesis 1, evening and morning. 

The women return to the tomb on what we call Easter Sunday, and the first thing that the angel tells the women is, “Do not be afraid.”  If you were to track the numerous angelic appearances recorded in Scripture, they often begin with the angels saying to those they appear to, “Do not be afraid.”  (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:13; 1:30; 2:10) Because people don’t see angels often and due to the fact that they reflect God’s divine glory, people’s natural reaction to their appearance is one of fear. 

The next thing that the angel tells the women is that although they are coming to the tomb to complete the task of preparing the body of Jesus for burial, “He is not here for He has risen just as He said.”  These words reflect the nature of Christ’s resurrection in that it is a resurrection of His body.  We must distinguish between the life of the soul and the life of the body which are separated at a person’s death and then reunited at the resurrection.  We say that at the death of a Christian, while their body lies in the grave, their soul is with God in heaven. When the writers of Scripture speak of the resurrection, they are not talking about the soul but the body being raised.  So, when the angel says, “He is not here, for He has risen,” the angel clearly means His body is not here, His body has been raised from the dead.  Jesus had predicted His resurrection on many occasions to His disciples, explaining that He would be given over to be crucified and on the third day be raised from the dead.  (Matthew 16:21; 17:23; Mark 8:31; 9:30-32; Luke 9:22; John 2:21,22)

The last thing that the angel tells the women is to go and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead.  Further, they are to explain that the Lord Jesus will go ahead of them into Galilee and there they will see Him. Matthew 28:8 tells us that the women obey the message of the angel by recounting all of this to His disciples.  They reported back to the disciples what the angel had told them concerning Christ’s Resurrection.  In doing so, the women gave to the ‘Church of All Times’ a godly example of faithfully proclaiming to all who have ears to hear, “The Lord is Risen; He is Risen, indeed; O Come, let us adore Him, Alleluia!”