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Your Final Chapter Becomes a Preface
Excerpted from god’s story, your story by Max Lucado
Death seems like such a dead end. Until we read Jesus’ resurrection story.
“He is not here. He has risen from the dead as he said he would” (Matthew 28:5 NCV).
On Saturday the Enemy had won, courage was gone, and hope caught the last train to the coast. When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” Mark 16:1 – 3
It may have been Sunday morning, but their world was stuck on Saturday. It was left to the angel to lead them into Sunday. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” Matthew 28:2 – 6
The angel sat on the dislodged tombstone. He did not stand in defiance or crouch in alertness. He sat. Legs crossed and whistling? In my imagination at least. The angel sat upon the stone. Again, the irony. The very rock intended to mark the resting place of a dead Christ became the resting place of his living angel. And then the announcement.
“He has risen.” Three words in English. Just one in Greek. EgMerthe¯. So much rests on the validity of this one word. If it is false, then the whole of Christianity collapses like a poorly told joke. Yet, if it is true, then God’s story has turned your final chapter into a preface. If the angel was correct, then you can believe this: Jesus descended into the coldest cell of death’s prison and allowed the warden to lock the door and smelt the keys in a furnace. And just when the demons began to dance and prance, Jesus pressed pierced hands against the inner walls of the cavern. From deep within he shook the cemetery.
The ground rumbled, and the tombstones tumbled. And out he marched, the cadaver turned king, with the mask of death in one hand and the keys of heaven in the other. EgMerthe¯! He has risen!
The bodily resurrection means everything. If Jesus lives on only in spirit and deeds, he is but one of a thousand dead heroes. But if he lives on in flesh and bone, he is the King who pressed his heel against the head of death. What he did with his own grave he promises to do with yours: empty it.