Garden Tomb

Read Matthew 28:1–11.

At the tomb, both the women and the guards experience fear when the angel appears. Yet only the women are told not to be afraid. They’re still scared after the angel’s “fear not,” but they’re also joyful (v. 8). Unlike the guards, they’re able to move, and swiftly. After Jesus’ “fear not,” there’s no more mention of dread, just obedience (v. 11).

In addition, both the women and the guards (Greek “watchers”) arrive at the tomb with a visual purpose. The women go to see a jail cell, a hewn out cave (27:60) with a heavy stone to lock the occupant inside. Instead, the angel shows them that Jesus has miraculously escaped. Not only is the door thrown open, but his death wraps are unmoved (John 20:5–7). The grave has lost its victory (1 Cor 15:54–57).

God has a habit of revealing himself to the simple and hiding himself from those we esteem as savvy: the women see; the watchers do not. God does this so that his witnesses will identify God as the source of wisdom, as well as creation and its intricacies (Isa 44:24–25). The angel does not explain how God bent (or perhaps straightened) natural law to achieve Jesus’ resurrection. He simply shows the women that God has done so.

They leave the grave with joy but without understanding (Matt 28:8). Their minds and hearts are only satisfied when they take hold of Jesus himself (28:9). Relationship, not just knowledge, is the substance of God’s revelation. This plan is a gift to humans so profound that Paul declares it unfathomed by the angels (Eph 3:8–10).

The angel’s earthquake didn’t end at the tomb. Expanding ripples of his impact were like a tidal wave. His revelation of Jesus’ resurrection propelled the women to run with the news, and their news sent the disciples first home to Galilee and then out to the ends of the earth (Matt 28:19–20).

Having encountered first the truth about Jesus and then Jesus himself, the women were commanded to tell what they had seen, heard, and received. Think about what you have seen and heard and received so far in your journey. What are you being called to do with it? Do you feel fear? Perhaps you sense a little discomfort. Perhaps you’re downright overwhelmed. Imagine, for a moment, clinging to Jesus’ feet with this fear and hearing him tell you, “Fear not.” How do his voice, his words impact you?

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