By Dr. Jack R. Hodges, Jr.
My wife, Shawn, and I had the privilege of serving the Lord as Southern Baptist missionaries in Gaza and in Nazareth, Israel for fifteen years. Although that was many years ago, we will never forget the times that we would travel to Jerusalem for the week surrounding Easter. We would join pilgrims from all over the world and walk the Palm Sunday walk from the Mount of Olives into the old city of Jerusalem. And then a week later, we would join upwards of 1200 believers from all corners of the globe and crowd into every nook and cranny of the Garden Tomb site to experience the Easter sunrise service. We would, of course, arrive in the early morning pre-dawn hours in the darkness and excitedly wait for the first rays of the sun to split the eastern sky. And when the morning dawned, we all saw exactly what Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, Peter, and John saw—the huge stone that Joseph of Arimathea and other disciples had used to seal the crucified Lord Jesus in the tomb was rolled away. And as the light of the morning sun filled the place and slowly crept into the open tomb, it illuminated the fact that His body was not there. You see, that once sealed grave was not opened to let Jesus out, but to let all adoring women, men, and children in! When we look into that rock-hewn tomb, we find, just as all who venture to draw near and look inside—that He is not there!—He has risen! He has risen indeed!
That day in Jerusalem as hundreds peered inside the tomb, a great shout of “alleluia” filled the air. “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” was shouted out in language after language. Tears of joy were streaming down each face and that great multitude of believers broke out in praise and adoration to the Risen Savior, Jesus Christ. From the time of those extraordinary Easter Sunday mornings, Shawn and I have never failed to repeat that wonderful declaration of faith. In Arabic, we say, “Huwa Qaam!”( هو قام)—“He is Risen!” And then, we reply, “Haqqan Qaam!” (حاقا قام)—“He is risen indeed!”
Wherever you find yourself on Easter Sunday morning, Christians will repeat these phrases in their own languages, just as their families and ancestors have done year after year for generation after generation. It is an age-old affirmation of the most fundamental truth that sets Christianity apart from all other religions—Jesus rose from the grave. His death on the cross secured our salvation. By His death, we are reconciled to Him because He gave His life as a ransom, a propitiation for our sins. Paul declares in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And in Romans 5:9-10 he declared, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” He has secured our salvation and reconciliation to God through faith. And His death secured our eternal destiny.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior declares and affirms it to be true! When Jesus rose out of that tomb early on that Easter morning, He testified for all time and for all humanity that He has defeated sin and death. And through His resurrection, our redemption is made complete. May the joy of Christ’s resurrection fill your hearts as you celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord.
Dr. Jack Hodges is the Senior Pastor at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Morganton, NC. He has served as a pastor, a biblical counselor, and an International Mission Board missionary.
Read more from Dr. Hodges here.