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“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said.” (Matthew 28:5-6)

Have you ever wondered what the Saturday before Easter was like for the followers of Jesus? So much had happened in the last week, and especially in the last forty-eight hours, that their heads must have been spinning. Only a week earlier, Jesus had ridden into Jerusalem to cheers of “Hosanna!” and palm branches waving. On Thursday, the Master had washed their feet and celebrated the Passover.

Later that night, though, He was bound and arrested—betrayed by one of their own. Friday, He was beaten and bloodied, given a sham of a trial, and nailed to a cross. Before the sun set on Friday, He was dead and buried.

If you’ve ever been rocked by the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one, you may have an idea what the next day may have felt like. Maybe you’ve experienced the fog of trying to wrap your mind around what just happened and the sleeplessness as you replay things in your head, again and again.

But with the disciples, there was more. First of all, there was the confusion. It was their Lord Who was suddenly abused and killed. Their hope had been that this was the One Who would rescue them from their miserable lives. And now the One Who calmed the seas, and calmed them with His Word, was dead.

Secondly, there was guilt. Thirty-six hours earlier they had been arguing among themselves as to who was the greatest disciple, all while Jesus was preparing to die for them. When He was arrested, they all ran away—even though they had just promised Him they never would.

Finally, there was fear. The Bible tells us that they locked the doors where they were for fear of the Jews (John 20:19). They were afraid that what the Jews did to their Master, they would now do to His disciples, who were much weaker than He.

Not one of them was thinking about Jesus’ promise that He would rise from the dead. When the sun rose on the third day, only a small group of women went to the tomb—and they were only there because they wanted to anoint the DEAD body of their Lord.

But there was no dead body to anoint. The tomb was empty. The Easter angels told the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said.” (Matthew 28:5-6)

Let these familiar Easter words sink into your ears and your heart. Christ is risen from the dead; He is risen, indeed! No longer do you need to be locked in your rooms of confusion, guilt, and fear. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead proves that Jesus is exactly Who He said He was—the Son of God and your Savior. Since He kept His impossible promise to rise from the dead after He was killed, He will keep ALL the promises He has made to you. Confusion, be gone! Christ is risen!

Christ was delivered up for our offenses on Good Friday. On the third day God announced in the clearest of terms that the death of His Son was a payment sufficient to earn forgiveness of sins for the entire world. Guilt be gone! Christ is risen, indeed!

By rising from the dead, Jesus announced victory over death and the grave. Just as His tomb was empty, one day yours will be too. “Because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19) Fear be gone! Christ is risen and you shall rise too!

Dear brothers and sisters, don’t get stuck on Saturday, locked in your rooms of confusion, guilt, and fear. Your Lord is risen, as He said. He will keep all His promises. Your sins really are forgiven. One day you too will rise from the dead to inherit the kingdom your Lord died and ROSE to prepare for you.

Nathan Pfeiffer is pastor of Berea Lutheran Church in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.