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Where Does the Bible Say "He Is Not Here, For He Has Risen?"

Where Does the Bible Say "He Is Not Here, For He Has Risen?"

 Matthew 28:6 records one of the most powerful messages in history. “He is Not Here, For He Has Risen.” Spoken at the tomb of Jesus, the words spoken by an angel proclaimed the wondrous truth of Jesus’ resurrection.

But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 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.’” Matthew 28:5-7 ESV

This declaration must have been almost incomprehensible. The angel’s words pierced through their grief and turned the world upside down. It changed their lives, altered history, and today its power still gives spiritual life to a lost world. 

The women hurried back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples what they had seen and heard as the angel told them to do. After the horrific events of Jesus’ crucifixion, this good news burst from them, “He is not here, for He has risen.

Why Did the Angel Frighten People?

Would you be frightened if you saw an angel? Angelic manifestations in the Bible often frightened the people for whom their message was intended.

Fright would be a natural and logical response to the appearance of a supernatural being. “Do not fear” were often the first words spoken by heavenly messengers.

When the angel appeared, John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, was “startled and gripped with fear” (Luke 1). Mary, the mother of Jesus, was troubled, and Gabriel told her, “Don’t be afraid.” The shepherds on the hillside the night Jesus was born were terrified at the bright celestial display.

In the context of Jesus’ resurrection, the women had good reason to be afraid, even before the angel appeared. The days before had been full of fear. They had experienced the gruesome crucifixion of the One they loved and in whom they believed to be the Messiah and Savior. Incredible events took place. The temple veil rent, people came out of graves, the sky darkened, and there was an earthquake.

Jesus’ death, as foretold in Isaiah, was gruesome, bloody, and cruel.

“…his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind.” Isaiah 52:14 ESV

These witnesses of Jesus’ crucifixion held the torture and unjust killing of their Savior in their minds. Religious leaders and political leaders opposed Jesus’ followers. Tensions rose. Uncertainty, grief, and fear filled their hearts.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary had been there when Joseph of Arimathea laid Jesus in his new tomb. They’d sat opposite to the tomb and watched as he rolled the stone over the entrance. However, they likely did not know about the extra measures taken at the requests of the chief priests and Pharisees, which sealed and guarded it secure from thieves. (Matthew 27:62-66)

In the account as described in Mark 16, the women discussed on the way, “Who will roll away the stone?”

In the light of dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary with heavy hearts walked to the tomb. Expecting a corpse, they brought perfumed spices to anoint the body. A customary act of love, it honored the deceased by helping offset the stench of decay.

A second recorded earthquake rocked the ground.

And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him, the guards trembled and became like dead men.” Matthew 28:2-4 ESV

The angel at Jesus’ tomb was described as lightning, and his clothing was white as snow. The guards trembled and became like dead men, so frightened were they of the angel.

However, the angel had wonderful news.

“He is not here, for He has risen.”

Why Didn’t Jesus’ Followers Believe that He Had Risen?

Jesus said that He would suffer, die, and rise again, so why didn’t Jesus’ followers believe Jesus’ words?

Scripture says they didn’t understand what Jesus was saying. They heard His words, but the meaning was either hidden from them or misunderstood. Perhaps the disciples’ grasp of who Messiah would be and what His mission would accomplish was entrenched in a political kingdom. Maybe they couldn’t get past their own expectations.  

Jesus referred to His death at different times and in various portions of Scripture. He distinctly told them He what lay ahead.

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Matthew 16:21 ESV

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Mark 8:31 ESV

And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.’” Luke 9:21-22 ESV

It was, after all, inconceivable that someone could raise themselves from the dead. There had been resurrections before. Jesus raised Lazarus. He raised a widow’s son and Jairus’ 12-year-old daughter. But, no one had ever done such a miraculous thing before: someone rising from the dead through their own power. Nor would it ever happen again.  

Why is it Important that Women Saw that Jesus Had Risen?

The word “angel” in Greek means messenger. Women were given the message, “He is not here, for He has risen.”

First, the women were given a fantastic mandate when they heard, saw, and were entrusted to share the message. In Greek, “evangelist” is rooted in the same word as “angel.” The women at the tomb, messengers of God, became the first carriers of His resurrection, the best news of all history.

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.” Matthew 28:7 ESV

Testimony of women bore little validity in the days of Jesus’ life on earth, nor was it given much credence. Women were ineligible in first-century Israel to be legal witnesses but were chosen by Jesus to become the first eyewitnesses to His resurrection. He then commissioned them to carry the good news to the disciples.

Mark 16:11 states that when the men heard that He was alive and Mary Magdalene had seen him, “they did not believe.”

For a woman such as Mary Magdalene, freed from seven demons, an angel appearing with a directive to give news of the empty tomb, would have been a significant upset.

While only the two Mary’s are mentioned in Matthew’s account, other gospels add more women’s names to those first to the tomb. The list of first witnesses includes Salome (Mark 16:1), Joanna, and “other women with them.” (Luke 24:10)

Jesus, against the norms of society, showed equal spiritual worth and spiritual value that transcended all areas of life for women. While on earth, He taught women Scripture, included them in His ministry, and bestowed value and honor to them.

By revealing, “He is not here, for He has risen,” first to women, Jesus showed His salvatory work was for everyone. Christ died for all. His message broke all boundaries. Later the Apostle Paul summed up the equality of the gospel of Christ to the Galatian church.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 ESV

All who know Christ are called to be carriers of His good news. Today, we are messengers commissioned to tell the world that He is not here, for He has risen.

Prayers for Remembering He Has Risen

Dear God,

Thank you that you make all things new. Thank you for the victory and power in your Name. Thank you that you hold the keys over death, that by your might, Jesus was raised from the grave, paving the way for us to have new life with you. Thank you that you had a plan, that you made a way.

We confess our need for you…fresh…new…again. We ask that you renew our hearts, minds, and lives, for the days ahead. We pray for your refreshing over us.

Keep your words of truth planted firm within us, help us to keep focused on what is pure and right, give us the power to be obedient to your word. And when the enemy reminds us where we have been, hissing his lies and attacks our way, we trust that your voice speaks louder and stronger, reminding us we are safe with you and that your purposes and plans will not fail. We ask that you will be our defense and rear guard, keeping our way clear, removing the obstacles, and covering the pitfalls. Lord, lead us on your level ground.

Shine your light in us, through us, over us. May we make a difference in this world, for your glory and purposes. Set you way before us. May all your plans succeed. We may reflect your peace and hope to a world that so desperately needs your presence and healing.

Thanks be to you God, for your indescribable gift! To you be glory and honor, on this Resurrection Day, and forever.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(Excerpted from “A Prayer for Resurrection” by Debbie MacDonald)

A Prayer for Love and Mercy


how can we ever thank You enough? You endured more pain, more shame, more sorrow, more grief than we can possibly fathom. Help us remember why You gave Your life. Because of love. Because of mercy. Because we desperately need them both.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

(Excerpted from “A Prayer for Love and Mercy” by Liz Curtis Higgs)

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Bulat Silvia 

Sylvia SSylvia Schroeder loves connecting God’s Word with real life and writing about it. She is a contributing writer for a variety of magazines and online sites. Sylvia is co-author of a devotional book and her writing is included in several book compilations. Mom to four, grandma to 14, and wife to her one and only love, Sylvia enjoys writing about all of them. 

Her love for pasta and all things Italian stems from years of ministry abroad. She’d love to tell you about it over a steaming cup of cappuccino. Connect with Sylvia on her blog, When the House is Quiet, her Facebook page, or Twitter.

This article is part of our larger Holy Week and Easter resource library centered around the events leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We hope these articles help you understand the meaning and story behind important Christian holidays and dates and encourage you as you take time to reflect on all that God has done for us through his son Jesus Christ!

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At Easter, the Son of God took on the world’s sin and defeated the devil, death, and the grave. How is it that history’s most glorious moment is surrounded by fearful fishermen, despised tax collectors, marginalized women, feeble politicians, and traitorous friends?

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