When the women arrived at the tomb they heard those words for the first time, ‘He has risen’.
The resurrection was inconceivable for the first disciples and the people closest to Jesus; it was just as impossible to believe then as it is for many of us today. Greeks of the time didn’t believe in people coming alive after they died. Some Jews did, but only in the context of a whole new world – they didn’t and still don’t believe that individuals would rise form the dead. The people of Jesus’ day were not predisposed to believe in the resurrection any more than we are. Yet, the number of people who claimed to have seen the risen Jesus in bodily form in the days after his death ran into the hundreds. And they weren’t just people who followed him before he died, many were typical Greek and Jewish non-Jesus followers. Moreover, there was nothing to be gained by declaring that Jesus had risen; in fact, it would have been dangerous to make the claim. At best anyone suggesting that they had met someone who had died by crucifixion, was buried and 3 days later was wandering around looking completely fine, would have simply be called an idiot. At worse, someone making that claim may suffer the same fate as Jesus. Remember, the people in power who called for Jesus’ death because he claimed that he would rise again from the dead, were still around – don’t you think people would only declare that they have seen Jesus if they were absolutely certain and completely convinced, because their declaration ran the high risk of them also being crucified? Yet, hundreds, perhaps thousands of people said that they had seen Jesus alive on many different occasions during a period of 40 days after his death. Paul in one of his letters says 500 hundred people saw Jesus alive at one time.
The truth is, ‘He has risen’. And that changes everything. The resurrection of Jesus is the centrepiece of the Christian faith.