Welcome to the final part of our Easter mini-series where we will be looking at the events of Easter Sunday, also known as Resurrection Sunday, and the life changing effects they had on the world.
Matthew 28 (NIV)
Jesus Has Risen
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.
One of the first things that I wondered was, why didn't anyone go to Jesus before this point? The answer is actually right in front of us in the first part of this verse, the Sabbath. The disciples and Jesus' other followers were very devout in the observation of the Sabbath which meant that there was a delay in the preparation of the body of Jesus.
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.
A great natural event marked a great spiritual event. Interestingly, Matthew is the only disciple that records the 'great' or 'violent' earthquake. The word used here is 'megaj' (meg'-as) which in Greek can be translated as 'exceedingly great', 'loud' and 'mighty'. This highlights the power and magnitude of this earthquake. We also see the presence of an angel outlined here, one of God's messengers, this again highlights the spiritual magnitude of what is happening. The presence of angels throughout the Bible often mark moments of great importance.
This quote from Clarke highlights the reaction of the guards at the tomb and helps us understand why they responded in the way that they did:
“The resurrection of Christ is a subject of terror to the servants of sin, and a subject of consolation to the sons of God; because it is a proof of the resurrection of both, the one to shame and everlasting contempt-the other to eternal glory and joy.”
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.”
One of the key points to focus in on here is the difference between the kind of return from death that the likes of Lazarus had and the resurrection of Jesus. All of the people that previously returned from death by way of a miracle returned to their earthly bodies. Jesus in resurrection returned to life in a new form, he was made fully new again and he is still fully new now as he reigns in heaven. Jesus wasn't the first person to be brought back from the dead, but He was the first one to be resurrected.
The stone wasn't rolled away so that Jesus could escape the tomb, the stone was rolled away so that the people could see for themselves that Jesus was no longer there and had been resurrected. The angel's invitation to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to come and see for themselves was important as they were the same people that had watched Jesus' body get placed in the tomb.
“The invitation to see the place where he lay is appropriately addressed to the same people who had watched the body being deposited – so there is no possibility of a mistake.” (France)
The final part of this section of these verses is the angel sending the two Marys to tell the disciples, this quote from Spurgeon really highlights the humility of Christ and His openness to all people as at this world changing moment He chose two woman (who would of been considered lesser for being female and would also of been ridiculed for publicly supporting Jesus) to deliver this amazing message:
“Not first to them who were the heads of the Church, as it were, but first of all to lowly women, did the Lord appear; and the apostles themselves had to go to school to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to learn that great truth, ‘The Lord is risen indeed.’”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
The two Marys do exactly as they are commanded and in their obedience they meet the resurrected Christ himself. At this moment they called to His feet and worship Him. What a response. In our obedience He will meet us, but a great lesson here is not to get caught up in fulfilling your task and miss the intimate relationship with Christ that is right in front of you.
I'm going to cut this weeks blog there! Now if you know the Easter story then you know there is more. I want to challenge you today to delve into your Bible yourself and explore the events that followed this amazing extract of scripture.
I pray that this Easter we might fall at the feet of our resurrected Jesus and worship him in awe and wonder.