Photo by Pisit Heng on Unsplash
Photo by Pisit Heng on Unsplash

He Is Risen!

He is Risen, Indeed!

Have you heard the phrase, and repeated the refrain? Did you go to church this morning, Resurrection Day 2024, and proclaim it? He is risen!

I remember, when as a girl in the Lutheran church, (like many other branches of Christianity) on Easter morning the narthex and the sanctuary fairly buzzed with the greeting, followed by the refrain, by any and all. It goes like this:

Friend 1: “He is risen!”

(Notice the large smile on Friend #1’s face, as they await your reply…)

You, smiling broadly in return, respond in kind: “He is risen, indeed!”

And thus it goes, in churches and in Christian communities around the world, on every single Resurrection Sunday, as hundreds of thousands today, and millions and millions of believers throughout the centuries, state this most glorious truth to one another, over and over again. And today is that day, isn’t it?

Today is the day, when we fairly burst with the news: He Is Risen!

But…Why Do We Say It?

Why not? I mean seriously, why wouldn’t we repeat what the angel said, so many years ago?

Let’s open the Word today, this Easter Sunday, and remind ourselves of what went down on that most wonderful day!

Here is the text from Matthew’s gospel, chapter 28. But don’t stop there, turn over to Mark 14, Luke 24, and John 20, and read for yourself all four gospel accounts!

He Is Risen

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.

And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.

His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.

And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.

He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”

So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

Matthew 28: 1-8

Matthew describes the scene in stunning detail. The mighty troops from Rome’s best, shaking, fainting, collapsing in fear from the raw power displayed by this visitor from heaven.

The angel’s face was like lightning – lightning(!) – and his clothing were as white as snow. Remember we are talking about the ancient world. Not a lot of people had seen pure white cloth, nor did they have access to bleach, washing machines, and enzymatic power cleaners. Interesting how these details are included, isn’t it?

Matthew wasn’t there, but the women were. These are details which they had related to the disciple. These are details that mattered to them…an angel with a face that was as bright as lightning, and clothes of pure white.

Behold! Here was an angel with a message for them! Though the Roman warriors were powerless, prostrate and trembling, the women did not faint.

The women had a conversation with this heavenly being, this messenger of light. And what light he had to share with them, on that most astounding, breath-taking, and forever celebrated day of days.

The angel says “He is not here. He is risen, as he said.”

He is not here? He is risen? What does that mean? What is the angel talking about?

“Come,”, he says, “I will show you.” Can’t you imagine him leading them into the empty tomb? One can see him gesture, nodding, leading them into this chamber of death that held a body no more.

“Come and see the place where the Lord lay.”

Then, he lays out instructions, specific instructions. “Go quickly, tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead.” Then the angel tells these brave, loving followers of our Lord where they will find the resurrected Jesus, alive as can be.

“Go to Galilee,” he says. “Behold, I have told you.” Yes, he told them, and the words he said to proclaim the truth that changes everything, have been repeated ever since.


When digging around to find out more about the history of the “He Is Risen, He is Risen Indeed” tradition, I found out very little. Other than the fact that it is ancient, with roots in the earliest traditions, (still repeated in Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational, and many non-denominational churches as well) nobody seems to be able to pin a date to the tradition. There are some theories. But I like this the best…

It could be, that after this Resurrection, this astounding victory, this death-blow to death itself, that the early Christians couldn’t stop exulting in the fact. Why not greet one another with the best news ever?

He is risen!! Amen, my brother and my sister. Amen! He is risen, indeed!

Perhaps they repeated it often, and long, and eventually it became what is known in some churches as the Paschal Greeting. (Pascha refers to the Passover, and Christ’s death and resurrection were the finished work of the perfect Passover Lamb.) In some churches, the Paschal Greeting is followed by kisses on the cheeks.

It is a joyful, comforting, incredible moment, when we embrace one another and fill our souls with lingering peace and indescribable joy. Our Lord is no longer dead. No, our Lord is Lord, even of death and the grave.

O death, where is your victory? Oh grave, where is your sting?

(See I Corinthians 15:54-57)

Here is a cool pdf of dozens of Paschal greetings from around the world!


When Christ was raised from the dead, he conquered death itself. He completed the mission. That enemy, death, that enemy that humanity fears most of all, was beat. Vanquished. Death died, that day, my friend, for all who call on The Name of names, for salvation. We do not fear death.

Sure, if Jesus does not return in our life-times, you and I will undergo death. Salty won’t write. You won’t do the work you do. Our bodies will be buried, and those who love us will be sad.

But we won’t be dead. Thanks be to God, our spirits will live on, united to Christ by the Father’s great provision, and Christ’s obedience.

Then one day, as discussed in 1 Corinthians 15, when Jesus returns, in a moment, in “the twinkling of an eye”, we will be like Him, reunited with our bodies that are resurrected, too. They will be made perfect, spirit bodies like His own.

No wonder the joy, as we exchange the Pashcal Greeting. We exult over His victory, and we assured of our own.


Let’s enlighten our discussion today by digging just a little deeper into the verb tense of today’s celebratory phrase, “He is risen!”

Most modern versions of Matthew’s passage translate “He is risen” to “He has risen”. I get it. That does seem more grammatically correct. After all, he has done this thing. Past tense. He arose. He did it. He has risen, and isn’t here.

So why does the present tense “He IS risen” still persist in some texts, and why do we still say it in the present tense, in this Paschal Greeting?

The “I Am”

The name of God, given by Himself to Moses long ago, encompasses the entire scope of the “being” verb.

“I Am”, says God to Moses. (Exodus 3:14).

That’s Who He is. All that the verb encompasses: God Almighty is, was, will be.

He has always been.

He presently IS.

God will always be.

Do you remember conjugating the “Being” verb in 7th grade English Grammar? We were taught to recite:

“To be”: Is, Am, Are, Was, Were, Will, Be, Being, Been”

You get it. That verb encompasses all that was, is and will be.

And that, says God, is My Name.

In just the same way, Christ IS. He IS risen. He arose, some two thousand years ago, is even now, presently, a resurrected Being in heaven, and He always will be, in the future, the resurrected, perfect, author and finisher of everything. He IS risen.

Jesus: The “I AM”

Let’s take a look at just three of fifteen powerful passages where Jesus said that God’s Name was His name, too. [For a super interesting treatment of the Greek words (Egõ Eimi) used, and how these are of special importance, please see this article from Biblical Hermeneutics.

I Am the Resurrection

I am the resurrection, and the Life.” Believe in Me, he told grieving Martha. Don’t look just to the resurrection, where you know someday you will see your dead brother. Look to Me. I AM the resurrection. I AM the life. (Read the account here, in John 11).

Before Abraham was born, I Am

In John 8, John recounts a time when Jesus made a bold claim. What he said was not lost on his religious opponents. In fact, after Jesus said these words, they picked up stones to stone him for blasphemy!

“Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”

Here it is in context:

Jesus: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.”

The Jews therefore said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’

Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’

Therefore they picked up stones to stone Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple.

John 8:56-58

I Am He: Touch Me

Lastly, let’s visit this resurrection scripture. When Jesus appeared before His incredulous disciples, he called Himself the “I Am”. It’s not like that in the English. This is what we read in English Bibles:

Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

Luke 24:39

Yet in the original Greek, the Lord is saying:

“See the hands of me and the feet of me that I AM He. Touch Me.”

In Greek, all three of these passages, Jesus is very clear. He uses the Greek “Egō Eimi”…the I Am. These Greek words (Egō Eimi) are the very same words from the Exodus passage (discussed above) in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible).

The Greek literally means: “I am the One that is!” That is Who God is. He IS the One Who IS. Period. That’s Jesus.

Jesus IS risen. Jesus IS Lord. Jesus IS our mighty God.


So let’s celebrate! Shall we bow down to this mighty Lord, so worthy of our adoration? Yes! Let’s join the lovers of God from the long-ago past, who still sing the never-ending song. Let’s add to the legacy they began, by adding our own voices to the choir.

Need a few worship songs to get you going? Enjoy these songs, and sound forth His praise!

Living Hope



A Thousand Hallelujahs

Echo Holy

Blessed Easter, everyone. He is risen!