Jesus the Christ was put to death on Good Friday, but that is not the end of the story.
Very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb…And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back – it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here” (Mark 16:2,4-6).
That is the Easter story. But that, too, is not the end of the story.
He [Jesus] appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me [Paul], as to one abnormally born (1 Corinthians 14-15).
Even after His death and resurrection, Jesus continued to teach his followers. He ate with them, He met with them, and when he ascended into heaven, he promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide them (e.g., Luke 24:36-53). For forty days after his death and resurrection, Jesus continued to lead His followers. Then He ascended into heaven.
But even that is not the end of the story. While they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
In other words, this story isn’t over yet.
Easter is not just an event we commemorate; it is an event we continue to live. The miracles of Easter are as real and present today as they were 2000 years ago. Jesus is as alive today as He was that first Easter morning. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” the angel asked the women at the tomb. “He is not here, but has risen…” (Luke 24:5-6)
“Christ is risen!” We say on Easter morning. “He is risen, indeed!”
Sometimes I hear people wonder what it would have been like to live during the time of Jesus. Sometimes I even say it myself. Perhaps we should stop wondering and look around. Because this is still the time of Jesus. True, we cannot see Jesus, but until His physical return, God is guiding us through the Holy Spirit. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus told His disciples. “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you… When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth… (John 16:7,13). Just because we do not see Him, does not mean He isn’t here. We don’t exclaim on Easter morning that He was risen; we exclaim that He is risen. He is risen, indeed.
Jesus’ commission to His followers is as applicable to us today as it was the day He ascended into heaven: “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 28:19-20).
This Easter season, are we merely celebrating a story we think is over? Or have we considered the possibility that Christ is calling us to partner with Him (right now!) as He writes the rest of the story?
The Easter story, my friends, has not ended yet.
Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things (Luke 24:46-48).