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.
Matthew 28: 5,6
Easter is a day of great joy! After experiencing the greatest of sorrows, the death of our Lord, our hearts turn to wonder and celebration. This is also the kind of day it was for the women who got up at dawn to go to Jesus’ tomb. Only three days before, they had gathered around the cross and watched with horror as their Lord suffered and died. In misery, they waited till the Sabbath was over. Then, out of love, they faithfully walked to the tomb to care for their Lord by tending to his lifeless body. But that was not to be. Instead, they were first on the scene, witnesses of God’s greatest victory . . . not because they had great insight and expected it, nor because they had greater knowledge than others and understood God’s plan. No, they were there because of their unrelenting love for Jesus.
I am sure it was a slow and sorrowful journey. Each step towards Jesus’ grave reminded them that the one they loved was no more. Their dreams for all he would accomplish had been dashed. Their hopes were crushed. Yet they came. They knew, as well as Peter had when he denied Christ, that they were putting themselves in real danger in coming. Yet they came.
There were obstacles. Who would roll away the stone? How could they even get to the body? Yet they came. For no matter how little they understood his ways, they fully understood his love and loved him in return.
And then they saw it–God’s most wonderful, unexpected, joyful, surprise. When they had thought all was lost, God was at work. When they felt trapped in defeat, God had broken in with victory. They saw the angels, they saw the empty tomb, they heard the words, “He is not here. He is risen!” And everything changed! Then they were given the awesome privilege and responsibility to spread this life-changing world-restoring message with the disciples.
Today is Easter and we proclaim to each other, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” Wherever we find ourselves on this Easter morn, we are called to remember that our Lord Jesus who has loved us and called us has also risen for us. No matter what situations surround us, whether we have understood or expected them, we, like the women, are called to love our Lord faithfully . . . continuing to attend to him, draw near to his presence. Unlike them, we know the end of the story. We know there is victory in Jesus. But much like them, we often have trouble holding on to his promises and understanding his ways.
This Easter morning, be ready for our Lord’s joyful, wonderful, unexpected surprises. Expect bursts of resurrection life around and within you. Anticipate God working for your good in ways you would never have guessed, with power you cannot comprehend. For the one who rose from the dead so long ago lives in you today. The one who defeated the powers of sin and death is at work even now, in you and in his world. So celebrate! He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Reflection: Read Matthew 28:1-10 slowly and prayerfully. Try to imagine how the women felt as they moved towards the tomb. Imagine how they must have felt when they saw the angels and when the saw their Lord. Read through the passage a second time. This time, place yourself with the women traveling on the road to the tomb. Bring with you the challenges, disappointments, joys and fears of your own life. How do you respond when you see the angels? How do you respond when you see Jesus? What do you hear/sense is Jesus’ Easter message of hope to you?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you suffered and died for me. Thank you that in your faithful love, you rose again for me. I marvel at your miraculous power and your incredible love. May your resurrection life fill me and overflow out of me to others as I follow you. Amen.
Contributed by Pastor Carla Olsen Draper
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