1 After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. 4 The guards were so shaken by fear of him that they became like dead men. 5 The angel told the women, “Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here. For 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 indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see him there.’ Listen, I have told you.” 8 So, departing quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, they ran to tell his disciples the news. 9 Just then Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” They came up, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus told them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”
We don’t often get much of a winter in Middle Tennessee. But this year, it happened! Snow! Four of my five children couldn’t wait to go sledding down the huge hill in our neighborhood. But the baby of the family was terrified, and nobody could convince her to climb on a sled. Watching everyone having so much fun, she finally decided to give it a try. It was better than she could have imagined. Her squeals of delight were infectious. She overcame her fear and found joy!
Did you know that the command to not be afraid is in the Bible 365 times? Whenever God repeats himself, pay attention. Repetition implies importance. Two of those instances are found in our verses today, when the angel and Jesus tell the women, “Do not be afraid.”
Why was fear an issue in this story? God did not want the women’s fear to blind them from the joy. Jesus had just conquered sin and death! Jesus had just delivered on the promise He made in John 16:33, when He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” The empty tomb is proof of the truth of His precious promise!
As Christians, we know what will happen at the end of the story. We are certain that the future is heaven. But God does not want us to wait for heaven to be happy. He wants us to taste joy here, a glimpse of the perfect joy waiting for us in eternity.
But beyond tasting joy, God also wants us to spread that joy. What else did Jesus tell the women? He told them to “go and tell.” “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). You can’t contain joy. You have to spread the “Good News”!
When fear seems like the logical choice, and yet we choose joy, it is the fragrance of Christ to the world around us. When the world examines Christians, they should see joy that makes them wonder, joy that makes them want to forget about their fear and hop on the sled!
Questions to Ask Yourself
- When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. Psalm 56:3 Is there a fear that God is calling you to lay down at His feet? What is He calling you to pick up instead?
- Our joy in Christ should lead to gospel conversations. In your life, who needs a taste of this perfect joy?
Pray for perseverance for our church family’s global workers. Pray they would hope in Christ daily before a task that can seem insurmountable. Pray they will continue to deeply trust that God is working in the people they are committed to reach.