By Traci Rabenstein, director of Mission Advancement
“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. . . .
The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.’” ~Matthew 28:1-2,5-7
As Mary Magdalene and Mary went to the tomb, I can’t imagine what went through their minds as they experienced the earthquake and encountered the angel. Maybe a feeling of sickness in their stomachs? Feeling light-headed? They must have looked at each other with confusion and concern about what everything meant. I wonder if they had to ask the angel to repeat the message—I wouldn’t have been thinking clearly enough the first time and would have needed to hear it again.
“Do not be afraid,” the angel said. “The One whom you seek is not here. He has risen just like He said. Go and tell the disciples that He will meet them in Galilee.”
Matthew says the women ran, with fear and great joy, to deliver the message to the disciples. Again, I wonder how many times the women needed to repeat the message:
“There was an earthquake. Did you feel it? An angel rolled the stone away and showed us that Jesus wasn’t in the tomb. He is alive! And we saw him! Touched him and held on for dear life. He told us to tell you he’ll meet you in Galilee. You can’t stay here hidden, you must go and meet him. He’ll be there!”
Other gospel accounts tell us that some of the disciples went to the tomb to see for themselves. They just couldn’t comprehend what the women were saying and struggled to believe them. Why didn’t they just pack up and start their trip to Galilee? Why didn’t they have faith?
As we reflect on all the events of Holy Week, why do we ever lack faith? Why do we continue to stare into an empty tomb; some days just going through the motions? Even now, it can be easy to become complacent and comfortable with the rituals of our daily lives. “Oh, I’ll read the Bible tomorrow.” “I’ll find time to pray later.” “I’ll make sure Easter is special for me/my family next year.”
What Jesus did—by dying and rising from the dead—was revolutionary. It was a game changer! Even when we endure hardship and loss or the earth rumbles beneath our feet, we don’t need to fear because Jesus has conquered all death, darkness, and despair. We now have hope of God’s presence right now and the promise of eternal life. Our relationship with Jesus gives us assurance that we no longer need to fear anything.
Our mission, much like for Mary Magdalene and Mary, is to pass along the wonderful news that our Savior is alive and waiting for us. We are called to join the revolution of Jesus by teaching about his transformative work and inviting others to come and see him.
Regardless of what we are thinking or feeling right now, Jesus is alive and well and waiting to have fellowship with us. Are we ready for our spirits to rise with our risen Lord? Will we flee from fear, share a message of hope, and show the world another way of living?
Learn how the ministries of the Church of the Brethren reveal another way of living at www.brethren.org or support them at www.brethren.org/give .