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
A lot of emotions, questions and fears must have been swirling within the women as they made their way to the garden tomb to finish preparing Jesus’ body for burial that first Sunday after His crucifixion. It had been a tumultuous few days for them. Not even a full week before, they had been a part of a city-wide celebration that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The people were dancing, singing and shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matt. 21:9) The crowds were, in effect, publicly proclaiming that Him as the Messiah! His followers must have believed that this would be the moment when Jesus was finally going to show the world who He really was and that soon, Israel would once and for all be rid of the Roman oppression that had been suffocating them. And they were going to be part of it! They had to have been elated! Emotions were probably still high with expectation when the time came for the Passover a few days later.
But instead, Christ’s mood was profoundly different. During their last meal with His disciples, He was serious, even somber, as He spoke about departure, betrayal and death. Soon after the meal, Jesus and his friends were swarmed by temple guards in the nearby Garden of Gethsemane. Even though the hour was late, news of His arrest, the ensuing mock trial, and the brutal scourging must have raced through the small town. The next day all the midnight reports were confirmed as these women and a few fearful followers gathered at Golgotha to witness the execution of their Lord. By mid-afternoon, Christ’s body slumped lifelessly on the cruel cross. All their hopes and dreams vanished and their worst nightmares became reality. His followers had to have been horrified, distraught, and filled with grief.
Jesus was dead. They had left everything to follow Him. What were they going to do now? It would have been impossible for them to have imagined a worse set of circumstances.
After the Sabbath had passed, these women arose early in the morning to do the only thing they could do … to finish preparing His body for proper burial.
Were you able to enter the story right at this point and question these ladies, do you think they would say that there was anything good that could come from what had just happened?
I’m sure they would have said ‘no.’ Jesus was their leader, teacher, and friend. He’d promised to be with them and to set up a new kingdom. There was no way they could have understood how His horrific torture, and eventual death was anything but a terrible mistake and an unfathomable tragedy.
… they would have been wrong!
“He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.”
The celebration of Easter isn’t just a once yearly observance of an historical event. It’s the bedrock of our faith, and the single most important truth that can see us through the worst life can throw at us. When we allow ourselves to fixate on bad news or negative circumstances, our fears threaten to steal our hope.
“Where is God?” we wonder. “How could He let this thing happen?”
Our interpretation of events easily convinces us that there’s no way any good could result from our situation. But just like these women, our understanding is limited and our perception is clouded by circumstances. We surrender to doubt, and miss seeing what God may be orchestrating behind the scenes.
Christians never have a legitimate reason to give up hope. Christ’s resurrection demonstrated emphatically that we can trust God, and that His love for us never ceases! Because Jesus is alive, you can believe there is hope for your marriage… for your wayward child… for your sick friend… for your financial situation. But this hope goes beyond the details of our lives working out the way we want them to. When Christ broke the power of sin and death, He proved that He commands the ability to bring purpose to situations that seem purposeless, and give meaning to what seems meaningless.
As you prepare to celebrate Easter this year, remember that the message of the resurrection is a personal message for YOU!
Because Jesus is alive, sin and death are defeated and hold no power over His followers.
He graciously offers you abundant life, confident hope and certain peace… for this life… and for all eternity.