Summary: The experience that the women have at the tomb--their encounter with Jesus-- turns their mourning into dancing and transforms their lives forever.
Matthew 28:1-10 “Bumping into Jesus”
Have you ever had the experience of bumping into an old acquaintance who you never thought you’d ever bump into? That happened to Faye and me one time when our family went to a Twins game in Minneapolis with my mother—a HUGE Twins fan. We were walking up to the entry gate when we spotted Faye’s two nephews. They had come done from a little town in Northern Minnesota to see the game. Imagine running into two family members in a crowd of over twenty thousand people. It didn’t stop there. When we took our seats, we discovered that we were sitting five rows in front of a family who were members of the first congregation that I served in North Dakota. We hadn’t seen them for over ten years.
The two Marys, who are in the lesson today, had a similar experience. They went to the tomb early in the morning not knowing what they would find. While they were there they bumped into an angel and they bumped into Jesus. Their experience on that first Easter morning changed their lives forever.
MORNING OF EXPECTATIONS
Matthew tells the story of Jesus’ resurrection slightly differently than do Mark and Luke. They have the women carrying spices to finish the embalming of Jesus’ body. Matthew does not have the women carrying spices. They are not going to see death. Instead they are going to see what Jesus meant when he said that he would rise from the dead after three days.
The two Marys had been with Jesus for a long time, probably as long as the men who were called disciples. They had served Jesus and provided for him. As they had followed Jesus and had heard Jesus say that he was going to be arrested, tortured, executed, and would rise on the third day. While the disciples didn’t understand and didn’t want to believe that would happen to Jesus, the women quietly believed.
The two women were making a journey of faith. They had heard what Jesus had said. They weren’t sure what Jesus meant, but they got up early on Easter morning to find out. They stepped out in faith in order to see and understand. And they discovered something wonderful.
We find ourselves in the same situation this morning as the two Marys were so many hundreds of years ago. We have heard Jesus promise that he would rise from the dead. Sometimes we aren’t quite sure what this means for us today. But, we get up each day wondering where we will see Jesus; where will we see the living Lord. Will Jesus answer our prayers, help us through a demanding day, keep our kids safe and give us our daily bread?
ACT OF FAITH
The two women were anticipating the resurrection, even though they did not fully understand what that meant. They acted on what they had been told by Jesus and they went to the tomb. There is an air of expectation in Matthew’s story.
Their act of faith led them on a journey of discovery.
• They encountered an angel sitting on the rock that had once sealed off Jesus’ tomb.
• They discovered Roman soldiers who had fainted in fear and became like dead men.
• Their faith enabled them to face these astounding circumstances without fear.
• Their faith compelled them to obediently follow the directions of the angel and go tell the disciples that Jesus was going to meet them in Galilee.
The women acted differently than the others. No one else got up that Easter morning; everyone slept in. The women saw with the eyes of faith and they came to understand what had happened. The faith of the women was more than belief. The women’s faith was expressed in action.
Rarely will we see the risen Lord, by sitting around polishing up our theological beliefs. We see Jesus when we act in faith. Acting in faith with a sense of anticipation enables us to see the risen and living Jesus.
The two women left the tomb expecting to see Jesus. They thought that they would see him in Galilee. Instead, they bumped into him in the garden.
When the women encountered Jesus, they stopped and worshiped him. The events of the past days had proven that Jesus truly was the Messiah; the one who had come to establish the kingdom of God.
Their encounter with Jesus changed their lives—and it changed the world, too.
I do not know where you will encounter Jesus today or in the days and weeks ahead. I do know, though, that Jesus has been raised from the dead and that Jesus lives. As you live in faith, Jesus will move powerfully in your lives.