He Rises to Win the Victory
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.” (Matthew 28:5-6)
After he has suffered, he will see the light of life. (Isaiah 53:11)
Before moving to New Ulm, for 25 years I cared for my parents’ grave. I was the closest of six siblings to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Year after year—often on Easter—I’d visit the cemetery to put flowers on their grave.
And year after year, when I arrived at the grave, they were still dead. My doubting heart often whispered to me that it would always be that way.
Of course, death should be the end of hope. Such is the curse God laid upon fallen humanity: “Dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19). And that dusty grave leads to a fiery hell. So, as I made my visits to my parents’ silent grave, such thoughts often troubled me.
That helps me ponder the mindset of the women that first Easter morning as they approached Joseph’s tomb. The weight of the spices was nothing compared to the burden on their hearts. But the scene at the tomb was neither somber nor silent. The tomb was empty, and the Lord’s angel proclaimed: “Do not be afraid, for I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (Matthew 28:5-6).
Just as Jesus had promised, his grave was empty. His resurrection proved that death had been swallowed up by his victory. That’s why his grave was empty!
And so too, one day, the graves of our loved ones who’ve fallen asleep in Jesus will be empty! And if we do not live until the Last Day, our graves will one day be empty—just as he has promised!
Twenty-three years ago, as my four brothers, my brother-in-law, and I carried my father’s casket to his grave, we weren’t silent. My father had planned that all who gathered around his and our mother’s grave would be singing as we carried his lifeless body. Among the words he planned for us to sing were these:
I am flesh and must return Unto dust, whence I am taken; But by faith I now discern That from death I shall awaken With my Savior to abide In His glory, at His side. (TLH 206:4)
Such is the Easter certainty that comforts our hearts. Those who visit our graves will one day find them empty!
Risen Lord, fill us this day and every day with the confidence that because you live, we too shall live. You are risen, Lord. You are risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen!
Rev. Dr. Richard Gurgel serves Martin Luther College as president