He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.
-Matthew 28:6 NASB
Today is the day we celebrate the fact that these words could be truly spoken some two thousand years ago. The tomb was and is empty and the Son of God is risen just as He said. This is reason to celebrate!
But in all the celebration, I fear that we sometimes forget the responsibility that comes with our belief in a resurrected Saviour. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that only a few lines later Matthew writes, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, some of the most widely known verses in all the New Testament:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
-Matthew 28:18-20 ESV
Our confidence in the resurrection of Christ should bring about a response of utter devotion to the mission of Christ. If he is risen “just as He said” then He will build His Church just as He said (Matthew 16:18). The question we must ask ourselves is, “Are we in?” If this story is true, how can we neglect our commission in order to bask in our comforts? In light of the truth that the vast majority of the world is headed to an eternity apart from the joy of the presence of the resurrected Christ, how can we separate the Easter celebration from a passion for the nations?
I’m in the process of reading Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China in the latter half of the 19th century. In this interaction, Taylor is speaking with a Chinese man who had recently been converted to Christ under his ministry:
He (the convert) it was who, talking with his missionary friend (Taylor), unexpectedly raised the question: “How long have you had the Glad Tidings (Good News) in your country?”
“Some hundreds of years,” was the reluctant reply.
“What! Hundreds of years? My father sought the Truth,” he continued sadly, “and died without finding it. Oh, why did you not come sooner?” (71)
“Oh, why did you not come sooner?” What heartbreaking words. I pray that as we read them we would feel that familiar lump in our throat and that burning in our eyes that reminds us of the urgency of the mission that has been graciously given to us.
This Easter, may the truth of the empty tomb drive us toward the urgent mission of proclaiming to all that He is risen and let us do it for the sake of His name among all the nations.