The Other Easter Message
“‘He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” (Matthew 28:6 NIV)
If anybody were to ask what the Easter message is, most people would exclaim, “Christ Is Risen!” And they would be right. But there’s another important Easter message for all of us, and it’s found in our Scripture for today. The two women who went to the tomb were told by the angel that Jesus was alive, and that they were to go and tell the disciples that he was going ahead of them to Galilee. Then Jesus met the two women himself and told them again to tell the disciples to go to Galilee where they would see him. A bit more research into the Scriptures will reveal that Jesus had given the disciples the same message during the Last Supper, saying, “But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee” (Matthew 26:32). He could have told them to meet him at the Temple in Jerusalem, which would have made sense in terms of his fulfillment of the Old Testament Law and the Prophets, and because of its proximity to where he had risen from the dead. Instead, he told them he would go ahead of them to the place where he first called them to be his disciples. Jesus was calling them—and us—not just to celebrate his resurrection as the first-born among many brethren, but to get away from the crowds and just go spend time with him.
This is of great significance on a day like Resurrection Sunday, a day in the year when most churches are filled to capacity. It’s wonderful to shout, “He’s alive!” on Easter, but how many of us are willing to just hang out with Jesus every day as we would with an esteemed friend? That’s the fellowship he longs to have with every one of us.
Notice that Jesus was calling the disciples back to the place where they first believed and began their walk with the Master. Isn’t he wanting the same for many of us today, who have perhaps gotten so sophisticated in our service to God that we have lost that first love and barely have time to come into his presence? Jesus is calling us back to that simpler time in our lives when we first came to know him, when we were in awe of him, when spending time with him was our greatest desire.
So the Bible says that the disciples did indeed go to meet Jesus in Galilee. Think of the trepidation with which they went, however! They knew they had failed the Lord in the darkest moments of his time on earth. They had all fled, and Peter had gone so far as to deny him after having boasted that he would never leave the Lord even if the others ended up doing so. What a sorry bunch that was!
But isn’t that how some of us might be feeling today? Perhaps we have grieved the Holy Spirit through our words or our actions, and though we’re willing to go to church on Easter Sunday out of custom or to fulfill a religious obligation, we may feel a million miles away from God. More than that, we may feel that the Lord has nothing but reproach for the way we have come short in our devotion to him.
That isn’t what Jesus did with his disciples, however. On that mountain in Galilee, he told them, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). And that’s what he tells you and me today: “It is finished. The debt of your sin has been paid in full, you have restored relationship with God, and I will never, ever leave you nor forsake you.” Notice that in that encounter, as they were away from the multitudes and alone with Jesus, he gave them instructions for their lives and ministry by giving them the Great Commission.
So, on this Easter Sunday, let’s join the joyful throng in crying out, “Jesus is risen!” But then let’s go and meet with him privately, spend time with him, worship him, and receive instruction from him. What a wonderful Easter that would be!
Read Matthew 28:1-20.