Easter has come! Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!
A season of unbridled confidence and joy? Well, surprisingly, no.
The women who first meet the risen Jesus are a bundle of emotions. As you read this story why not imagine yourself with the women?
28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
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.
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.”
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.”
They had clear expectations – a dead body, cold and lifeless, wrapped in linen cloth. They had mentally prepared themselves, and though the Sabbath had given them a day to collect themselves, there were tears as they approached the tomb. Their grief still so raw they’d forgotten to address the problem of getting into the tomb to begin with.
But then, drama!
An earthquake, the ground heaves, and before their tearful eyes they witness an angel. The response to angels in the Bible is pretty consistent – terror! These aren’t human beings they are heavenly beings – radiating something of God’s holiness, power and awe! Moses’ face is said to shine with a radiance when he hangs out with God on the mountain for forty days. Imagine what living with God will do. So from grief, they move quickly to terror.
They are told several confusing things by the angel. First, “don’t be afraid!” That’s well and good, but there’s been an earthquake and an angelic appearance in quick succession – not normal. But the angel goes on, “Jesus isn’t here, he has risen!”
What?!! “Yes, just as he told you he would.”
And to satisfy their curiosity and confusion the angel shows them where Jesus had laid dead. The cloths they had expected to remove, neatly folded. So now from terror they are baffled. What is going on?
Finally, an instruction, “go and tell the disciples. You will see him.” Really? Can it be true?!
Can you picture it? What a lot to take in. Do you feel these strange emotions at the minute? Celebrating Easter in the current situation can feel odd, almost wrong. Grief. Fear. Confusion. Hope.
Dashing off it says they “hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy.”
Are you afraid yet filled with joy?
The women then meet the risen Lord. Grief, fear, confusion and hope give way once again to shock, awe and worship. So intense is their response that Jesus has to say, “don’t be afraid.” He says this to you and to all of us each day, especially at the moment: do not be afraid.
The angels are depicted as gloriously shining. Could you wear something white today? A t-shirt or jumper or socks – as a reminder of the angel and the new life of Easter.
What are your emotions today? How are you feeling? Check in with yourself? Be honest. And tell someone in your house.