Scripture: Matthew 28:1-11
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’ So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’
While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened.
Each of the four gospel writers gives us a different perspective on the story of the first Easter. None of them actually give an account of the Resurrection, per se; rather, they describe what happened just before and just after it. In Matthew’s account, which we will read this Easter, there is an angel who sits upon the stone that had sealed the tomb. The angel announces to the two Marys that Jesus is risen, and then he shows them the place where Jesus had been lain. After this, the account says that the Marys “departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy . . .”
1. Can you recall experiences in your life where “fear and great joy” came at the same time?
2. Have you ever had a “resurrection” experience? What happened? What was it like?
3. Liberal churches often point out that the experience of resurrection can be known without suggesting that Jesus was raised bodily from the dead. Does this theological latitude deepen your faith? Make it more difficult?
Rev. Dr. James Gertmenian