Summary: Do you ever feel lonely, depressed, abandoned? Jesus has three special words of encouragement for you - words that will give you comfort and purpose, especially in times when you don’t feel like going on.
We can’t even begin to imagine what waking up on that Sunday morning after the crucifixion was like for Mary Magdalene and Mary, Jesus’ mother. All of the turmoil of the trials, the terror of the cross, then the terrible waiting, while it all sunk in over the Sabbath. We have a name for it now – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. During the shelling in Vietnam, soldiers saved lives and performed heroically. But once the battle was over and they were home, some lives were never the same.
The family members of those killed in the 911 attacks would be able to identify. Days after when the dust was still settling, they didn’t know what had become of their loved ones. Many streamed down to the site to see if maybe a wife or father was walking around dazed and confused. They hoped against hope, even put up posters with pictures. That hope gave way to despair for many.
Mary, Mary, and as Mark tells us Salome – mother of James and John – existed I’m sure in a nether-world for that Saturday and Saturday night. But what is so interesting is that the best they could have hoped for – a dream now totally destroyed – was not even close to the good that had already happened. It gives us hope that in the desperation of circumstances we find ourselves, Jesus is working a better good than we can ever hope or dream of – if we will but seek Him.
For these women, they arose early on Sunday to go see tomb – they’d been at the cross and saw where Joseph of Aramathea had laid His body.
28:1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
Their purpose was to anoint the body with spices and perfumes. The spices acted like bringing flowers to a graveside. The perfumes were used to cover the odor of a decomposing body. I like the courage here. The women would have known that a Roman guard was in place and the tomb had been sealed – yet such was their devotion – despite the grief, despite the pain, despite the fear Jesus meant more to them. How much does He mean to us?
We know from other gospels that they wondered on the way about how they were going to roll away the stone.
2 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. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
We don’t know if the earthquake was the cause of the stone rolling away, or the result of the angel rolling the stone – but it doesn’t really matter. The stone was rolled away – not so that Jesus could find escape from the tomb, but so that others could get in and see what had happened.
Notice the angel – bright light, super bright clothes – lightning – these are all ways angels are described. The women fought their fear to approach the tomb, the solders – battle hardened Roman soldiers – were so frightened by the angels that they fell over like dead men. So much for physical prowess in the face of the supernatural.
5 The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 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."
There must have been some trepidation on the part of the group – but the angels said "Don’t be afraid." Notice they didn’t say that to the soldiers. The women were looking for Jesus – and that’s the mission the angel addresses. If we are seeking Him, God will sometimes move heaven and earth to bring us to Him.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Earnestly seek the Lord Jesus, and you’ll find Him. Well, the women are told "He’s not here, He’s risen.
Luke and John gives us more details – how the women went into the tomb – and saw the clothes laying just as if they’d enveloped a body, and a head handkerchief lying just as if there’d been a head underneath – Jesus raised right through them, no grave robber could have left the clothes that way.