Matthew 28:5-6 “And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is NOT HERE; for HE IS RISEN, as He said.” (KJV)
Angels-yes, more than one! Moving earth to move a stone. Greeting Jesus as He exited the grave with the keys of our spiritual prison cells and believers’ death certificates in His hand. Knocking out soldiers with a glance. God’s spokesmen, bearers of “good tidings of great joy to all people,” once again saying as they did thirty three years earlier, “Do not be afraid.” So like angels.
Three women-Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. They all loved Jesus and are in mourning. They watched Him die and have come “on the first day of the week, very early in the morning,” to finish burial rites they were unable to complete because of the Passover celebration and Sabbath. Their number one concern? Who will move the stone set in place over the tomb to prevent the stealing of the corpse. So like women.
Soldiers-Roman centurions, an elite contingent of warriors assigned to not let anyone near the tomb for three days so Rome could insure the dead remained dead. They knew the prophecy of rising in three days. Wasn’t going to happen on their watch! The penalty for failure to complete the mission was understood: death. So like a soldier.
Disciples-in mourning, scattered, confused, in hiding and headed back to former occupations like fishing. So like a men.
The actors of a play written before eternity began fulfilling their respective roles in the drama of eternity; the production: Resurrection-Not What We Expected.
The fears: (described as greatly perplexed, afraid, trembling and amazed, fleeing)? Count them:
- two earthquakes in three days shaking the earth, their composure and moving the stone
- graves opened and those who had died were seen in the city (Matthew 27:51-53 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.… ) Would this freak you out? I thought so.
- angels with glowing faces, booming voices, and stark white clothing outside and inside the tomb wrapped in light of God’s Glory in the predawn
- Roman soldiers stationed around the tomb-all lying on the ground like dead men
- Jesus is missing-the grave clothes are there looking as if he has been teleported out of them
- not being believed when they reported their experience
- doors barred to prevent capture, arrest
God, the Father, has once again done the unexpected. Or was it? Jesus had told His followers and the Jewish establishment He would rise on the third day. Would you have believed that? Well, maybe. After all He raised Lazarus after four days. But…….
Rome sure believed it was possible. Think about this: the priests asked for a guard at the tomb, a contingency plan just in case Jesus did “rise from the dead,” and Rome complied. Two arch enemies still conspiring together. Only God could have written this drama!
Women, the first to hear the good news. Ladies, God uses us to spread the message! He knows we can talk! He knows we are loyal! He knows who can get a group motivated and moving! The women left the tomb quickly (Mark says they fled) and “with fear (awe) and great joy and ran to bring His disciples word.” (Matthew 28:8)
But here is the real kicker. Jesus meets the women as they were running to share the events of the morning with the disciples and Jesus tells them “do not be afraid.” No Fear Ladies! Go tell “My brothers (another word for disciples, followers) to go to Galilee and there they will see ME!” Twice they have been reminded in the span of only a few minutes not to be afraid: once from the angel and now from Jesus Himself!
“Easter tells us of something children can’t understand, because it addresses things they don’t yet have to know: the weariness of life, the pain, the profound loneliness and hovering fear of meaninglessness.” Frederica Mathewes-Green
He IS RISEN! He is no longer a vision of torture: skin dripping from his upper body from the scourging, eyes swollen shut and face unrecognizable from the beating and thorns forced into his head, holes the size of railroad spikes in His wrists, feet, and a deep laceration in His side, covered in blood. He no longer smells of sweat, blood, and death. Now, Jesus, surrounded by the fragrance of the Rose of Sharon, is as soft and whole as a newborn baby, but with scars; His robes radiating the glory of His Father, and speaking in the voice they know so well saying to the whole human race: “you do not need to be afraid, perplexed, doubtful. Fear not!” This was all for YOU!
Jesus’ word can be believed. What He says He will do. It may not come in a way we expect, but come it will. Always has. Always will. “Fear ye not o daughters of Sion.” (March 16th, 2016)
Walking by the water with Him,
Scriptures: Matthew 27:51-53, 28:1-10, Mark 16: 1-8, Luke 24: 1-11, and John 20: 1-8