“So does the angel soothe the fear of the trembling women: ‘Fear not ye; He is not here; He is risen: come, see the place where the Lord lay.’ Let us mark, then, the glad tidings which the angel brings us regarding Him who died and was buried.
He is not here. This is the only place regarding which it could be accounted good news to say, Christ is not here. Christ is here, was good news at Bethany, at Jericho, at Nain, at Capernaum, or on the sea of Galilee; but Christ is not here, is the good news from Joseph’s tomb.
A present Christ would be accounted the joy and security of other places; it is an absent Christ that is announced as the blessing, the consolation here. He is not here, is one of the gladdest sounds that ever fell on human ears. Were He still here, what and where should we have been?
And who is it that you are seeking here? The mortal or the immortal? And what place is this in which you expect to find the Son of God? In a grave? Is this the place for immortality? Is it likely that there should be life in the dwellings of death? Why seek ye the living among the dead? No; not here,—not here; not in this place of death can the Prince of life be found. He was here, indeed; but He is not.
These rock walls and this rock gate cannot hold Him. He was in Gethsemane, in Pilate’s palace, on the cross; but not now. These He has visited, but in none of them has He remained. He has left them all behind. With Him it is all life, and incorruption, and glory now. He is not here!
If not here, where? That we soon discover when we follow Him to Emmaus and to Galilee. But even though we knew not, does it matter, save for this, that we may learn that His disappearance has not been a forsaking of earth, nor a turning His back upon the children of men? His disappearance from the tomb is only the carrying out of His love.
He is risen. He was laid down upon that rocky floor; but only to rest there for a day. For that tomb was His first earthly resting-place; all before that was weariness. Having rested there for a short season, He rises; and with renewed strength, into which hereafter no element of weariness can enter, He resumes His work He has not been carried off, either by friend or enemy; He has been raised by the Father, as the righteous One; the fulfiller of His purpose; the finisher of His work; the destroyer of death; the conqueror of him who has the power of death; the Father’s beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased.
This true temple has been destroyed, only to be rebuilt in greater and more undecaying magnificence. This true Siloam has only for three days intermitted the flow of its missioned waters, that it might gush forth in larger fulness. This true Sun has only for three days been darkened, that it might be relighted in its incorruptible glory.
He is risen! Yes; and now we see more fully the meaning of His own words, spoken at a tomb, and over one whom death had bound, ‘I am the resurrection and the life;’ Himself at once the raiser and the raised, the quickener and the quickened, the possessor and the giver of an infinite life,—a higher kind of life than that which the first Adam knew,—a life which can force its way into the dungeons of death, transforming them, by its resistless power, into the dwellings, the palaces, the temples of immortality and glory.
He is risen! He has tasted death, but He has not seen corruption; for He is the Holy One of God, and upon holiness corruption cannot fasten. As the beloved of the Father, He rises from the dead; for therefore doth the Father love Him, because He giveth His life for the sheep.
And in this resurrection we read the Father’s testimony to His Sonship; the Father’s seal set to His completed propitiation; the Father’s declaration of satisfaction and delight in the work of Calvary.
–Horatius Bonar, The Everlasting Righteousness; or, How Shall a Man be Just with God? (Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth, 1874/1993), 131-4.