Matthew 28 is the chapter that gives us the details of Jesus’ resurrection. It tells us about the women going to the tomb to finish the burial preparations for Jesus’ body but finding an empty tomb and an angel who said in Matthew 28:6, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”
Jesus is risen. That’s the core of our faith. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:14, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” That’s a dramatic statement: if Jesus was not raised from the dead, Christianity is a false religion.
And so the easiest argument to support our claim that Jesus is risen is the empty tomb. “He is not here.” But let’s not confuse that with, “He’s gone!” Even though Jesus is risen from the dead, even though the tomb is empty, even though the disciples witnessed Jesus ascend into heaven (Acts 1), Jesus is not just “gone.”
And yet the church seems to think that we’ve been abandoned. We believe that Jesus is alive and that he will come back for us at the end, but we find ourselves acting as if we’re all alone in the world. As the church finds itself being persecuted openly more often in the world, it sometimes feels like God is terribly distant, and we huddle together hoping for Jesus’ return.
But Jesus is not “just” risen, and he is certainly not gone. At the end of the chapter, Jesus said in Matthew 28:20, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” This is a promise. Jesus told his disciples that he would die, that he would be raised from the dead, that he would return for them, and that he would be with them until the “end of the age.” We preach and teach these promises as truth, but still we struggle as if we’re alone.
We’re not alone. He is risen, and he is here! As we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, let us live with joy knowing that he is with us. “I serve a risen Savior. He’s in the world today…. You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart.”