He Is Not Here…

Matthew 28:6–8 ESV
6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he[a] lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

All across this land during this holy week, pastors and priests are standing in pulpits declaring the good news to empty pews. Sanctuaries beautifully adorned are silent. The steeples stand erect witness to what was once here. Elaborate temples once teeming with church busyness dot the landscapes of our neighborhoods like whitened sepulchers – mere reminders of the wish dreams of what was.

I wonder if there are any among us with the courage and hopefulness to say in this moment, to the masses longing for an assembly, He is not here!

If the church is the place from which the dead hear the message of new life, and where from the ‘newly born’ receive and are inspired by the divine ‘Go!’ of Christ’s commandment to walk in the newness of life, then we have subverted (even if inadvertently) this message with our noble ‘stay’ – with our well-intended invitation to ‘come and see! But our ‘come see’ has missed the greater revelation of His resurrection, ‘He is not here!’ Our subtle idolatry is laid bare.

Where is Jesus? He is with you in the home with your family, on the front lines with our first-responders, in the hospitals with our doctors and nurses, in the grocery store with the clerk and cashier, with the postal worker and the delivery driver. Where is Jesus? Perhaps, He is not in our sanctuaries. He is gone before us to these most unlikely of places…

Our present crisis has limited our mobility, inhibited our ability to gather, and relegated us to a disturbing stillness. Such quiet, such distance, such isolation has many of us wondering – ‘Where is Jesus?’ Where is the one who walked on water, who calmed the storm, who multiplied by dividing the fish and loves, the one who healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and raises the dead?

But as with Elijah, so it is with us. In the stillness, if we incline our ears and our hearts, we can hear the voice of the divine. Where is God?

As with those women, early on the morning of the third day, if we listen, we can hear the voice of the Spirit saying to us, ‘He is not here… come and see… then go quickly…’

He is not here! See where the LORD lay… He is gone before us. Let’s catch up with Him.

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