It’s a meaningful ritual being carried out in churches all around the world today. The Pastor will declare “He is risen” and the congregants will respond “He is risen indeed!” (Unless you pastor Scandinavians as I did in Seattle where you are apt to hear “Yeah, sure … you betcha!”)
But in both cases the response ends with an exclamation mark, not a question mark.
And that’s remarkable.
The resurrection of Jesus wasn’t hidden. On the day He walked out of the tomb at least fifteen different people saw him and heard him speak. In a short time He was seen by well over 500 people. Some touched him to validate their struggling belief. Many ate with him. Those who looked into the tomb saw nothing. And that ‘nothing’ turned out to effect everything in their lives.
Everything changed for them and they lived their lives differently after that day. Cowardly men, hiding from the religious leaders became fervent and bold testimonies to the empty tomb and the risen Savior. Many later died willingly at the hands of skeptics to testify to this most astounding event. How many men are willing to die for what they know to be a scam?
The early church simply exploded on the shared belief that Jesus did not stay in the tomb but rose from the dead as he predicted He would. With the entire foundation of Christianity at stake, the body of Jesus has never been found.
So how do we who didn’t get to see him physically keep the exclamation point at the end of our testimony? What is the basis for our confidence in this historical occurrence? In the words of songwriter Alfred Ackley “You ask me how I know He lives – He lives within my heart.” (He Lives- 1933)
To some, that subjective appeal to experience is less reliable than God’s written word, but the two go hand in hand. I can read the account and put my trust in what it says, but I’m glad that there is confirmable confirmation available to me as well.
Scripture says that “ … his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:16 New Living Translation From within comes a constant assurance that Jesus lives. He gives hope in the most difficult circumstances. He is Friend, Protector and Peace-Provider. And He promises me my own resurrection since death was defeated when He came out of the tomb.
Any week that begins with a resurrection is bound to be great!