Matthew 28 = Resurrection, Fear, and Joy!
Bible Background: Each of the gospels tells of the resurrection. All 4 agree on a) an empty tomb; b) that Mary Magdalene is the first person there (other women are included by Matt-Mark-Luke); c) that this takes place early in the morning; and that d) this is all very overwhelming! From there each Gospel adds a variety of details.
Digging into Matthew’s Account: 1. Matthew reports that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb at dawn. In Matthew, the action is just beginning! There’s an earthquake (Matthew reported a quake on Friday, when Jesus died!). An angel descends, rolls back the stone, and sits on it! The women are witnesses to this; so are the soldiers guarding the tomb (only in Matthew.) The guards faint. The angel tells the women “Do not be afraid!”
2. The angel announces “He is not here, for he has been raised! Come, see the place where he lay! Then, go quickly to tell his disciples!”
3. With no time to waste, “the women left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy”! Ponder that for a moment. “Fear” is hardly ever a desired emotion. But it’s paired with “great joy!” What do you make of their fear? Is it a ‘holy fear’ from being in the presence of God? Is it a natural fear that comes with “I have no idea what’s happening here, and am completely confused?” Whatever it is, they do what they are told. The run to tell the (male) disciples, and they run into the Risen Lord!
4. The angel and Jesus tell the women to tell the men that Jesus will meet them in Galilee, just as he said (see 26:32). Matthew then offers a beautiful finish to that 1st Easter with Jesus meeting the 11 (no Judas) on the mountain in Galilee. They worship him even though “some doubted”. He gives them his Great Commission to Go. Make disciples. Baptize. Teach. Remember, I am with you always!
5. Think of what Galilee represents for those followers. Galilee is where he did most of his preaching and teaching and healing. Galilee partially represents ‘home base’, and also partially represents taking the good news out into the world! The disciples will gather with Jesus, but they won’t just go ‘home’ or stay home! They will go to where the people are, and where the needs are, and where faith and doubt are!
6. On your own or as a family, read one of the other Resurrection accounts at the dinner table today: Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20. Imagine yourself at that scene; as one of those characters. What are you feeling? What are you thinking? What will you do? How do ‘fear and great joy’ fit this glorious day?