“The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’. But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, ‘Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts. Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them. ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, ‘these are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, ‘Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.’”(Luke 24:35-48)
The first Easter began with an empty tomb and two angels declaring to the women who had come to care for Jesus’ body, “Why do you seek the living among the dead. He is not here but has risen!” From that moment the day erupted into a chaos of confusion and perplexity–even disbelief–giving way to hope, and ending in certainty and joy:” The Lord has risen indeed!”(v34)
Throughout that day, in the midst of the wonder and chaos, there was one constant: the explanation given over and over again by the angels and then by Jesus himself of what was happening and what it meant. Each time the explanation was given in almost exactly the same words, almost like a liturgical formula, and was certainly meant as the key for how God wants us to understand all that happened.
The angels begin it. The first words out of their mouths following “He has risen,” are “Remember how he told you while he was still in Galilee that the son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise,” (v6) (and indeed he had told them in almost these exact words (ex. Luke 9:22).
Then the risen Christ himself, on the road to Emmaus , said to those disciples,
“O foolish men and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory. And beginning with Moses and all the prophets he interpreted for them all the scriptures the things concerning himself (v25-27).”
Then late that evening he appeared to the disciples in the upper room and opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ should suffer and on the third day arise from the dead and that repentance and forgiveness of sin should be preached in his name to all nations.” (v46-47)
In each of these passages Jesus and the angels want us to know that the cross and resurrection are the fulfillment of the promises of God to save his people. Throughout the Old Testament God had promised a Messiah who would deliver God’s people and inaugurate an eternal kingdom of peace, justice and abundant life. God wants us to know that it is in Jesus and through his cross and resurrection that he has fulfilled His promise.
Fulfillment is at the heart of the Easter message. Our God keeps his promises; every one of them. God has promised salvation and what he has promised he has done! In fact, in Christ God has answered and is answering every promise He has ever made. The apostle Paul captures this beautifully in one great exclamations: “For in him all the promises of God find their Yes! That is why we utter the Amen through him to the glory of God.” (II Corinthians 1:20)
So the Easter message does not ever end with the exclamation, “Christ is risen indeed!”, but must always be followed in our hearts if not in our voice with an equally exuberant acclamation, “Just as he said he would!”
For our God always fulfills his promises!!
Fred Durham is the President of Alighieri Press and serves as an author and speaker.