Mark 16:6 “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here.”
On May 8, 2013 Dallas Willard passed away after a very brief and private battle with cancer. He had become a beloved Christian statesman. As a philosophy professor at the University of Southern California (USC) he had written such Christian classics as Spirit of the Disciplines, Renovation of the Heart, and The Divine Conspiracy. He had become renowned as a leader in the Christian spiritual formation movement.
Then, in the final moments, Dallas began to describe a vision he was having. He was entering a magnificent hall with hundreds of people lining the wide aisle, standing, and welcoming him in the warmest possible way. His life had included countless public appearances, presentations, conferences, and applause. But he quietly whispered, “I’ve never experienced anything like this!” And he was gone.
“He has risen; he is not here.”
Very early yesterday morning, while students slept in their dorms, Somali Islamic militants stormed Garissa University College in the northeastern region of Kenya. They moved systematically from dorm to dorm, separating Christians from Muslims, and executing those who could not recite verses of the Koran. The current count is 147 dead.
The violence shocks us all. The slaughter of Christians, young men and women simply seeking an education by which they might improve their own lives and their communities, stuns us.
Yet, amidst the grief, even as their bodies lay in a morgue today and a grave tomorrow, the words of the angel echo softly again.
“They have risen; they are not here.”
Today is Good Friday; the start of the most spiritually significant weekend of the year. There was nothing “good” about the violence that Jesus endured on this day at the hands of domestic militants. There was nothing “good” about the torture or the agonizing brutality of crucifixion. But Sunday, which is coming, has forever enabled us to attach the word “good” to Friday, because the worst of experiences simply provide a pathway to redemption and resurrection, when we walk with Christ.
One day we’ll die. And yet again those angelic words, first uttered to the Marys in Gethsemane, will echo forth. “She is risen; she is not here.” “He is risen; he is not here.” And we ourselves will break forth into the new creation, the glory of God Himself, with inexpressible joy.