The angel announced the good news that first Easter morning: “He is not here. He has risen, just as He said.” When God speaks, when Christ speaks, things always happen just as He said.
It’s like those first two verses of Genesis 21 when Isaac is finally born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age after years of waiting. The text says matter-of-factly: “Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what He had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God promised him.”
Certainly, like these women on that sad Saturday without Jesus, we struggle in our own days of sadness, pain or disappointment to collect a single godly thought. We can scarcely pray. Bible passages which deeply moved us on Sunday morning seem deleted on Monday. But here, on Easter, an easy verse to remember – hold it before you – no matter what happens on this side of the river. “He has risen, just as He said.”
Robert Frost won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry four times. English teachers usually make a point of covering one little poem in particular. It’s the one called Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. The final stanza says:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Most folks figure Frost wasn’t just talking about the ride home and going to bed. Most see an observation about life – the promises we have yet to keep, miles of things to do before we lay down our head on the pillow for the last time.
You and I have promises we have made – to ourselves and others. Weak and sinful, we pause at times in the snowy woods at night and lament the passing of our time and our strength. We say: “I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” We make resolutions. We promise to do better. But as a fellow named Disraeli once said, “Youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle, old age a regret.” The years evaporate. We discover that we are finite. We cannot take back the stupidity of yesterday. Our promises to do better have no power of themselves – not without Christ.
But the story of our salvation is far different. It is the history of promises kept. God always keeps His promises. Sarah looked down at the baby in her wrinkled arms and laughed, just as God said. Moses led Israel out of bondage, just as God said. God Himself was born of a virgin at Bethlehem, just as God said. Christ came back from the grave, just as He said. If this…then what about all the other stuff God has said – pardon, peace, heaven, a hand to hold us in every dark and difficult place? Yes! Yes! Don’t be surprised. It will all happen, just as He said!