After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Matthew 28:1-10On Easter morning the women who were followers of Jesus came to the tomb. They came expecting to find the bodily remains of a dead man. They came with hearts filled with sorrow and despair. But they came to the tomb nonetheless. The earthquake and the appearance of the angel must have been quite startling. Then the guards shook and became "like dead men" (which I presume to mean they passed out). No wonder the first words spoken by the angel are "do not be afraid." The whole scene was like something out of a movie: surreal, powerful, and mysterious.
The message of the angel was to go and tell the disciples that Jesus had been raised from the dead and to meet him in Galilee. Jesus was no longer confined to the tomb and was alive! The women left with "fear and great joy" and ran to tell them. Fear and great joy. This is an interesting combination. Fear because of the awesome display of power shown by the angel and God. Joy because Jesus was alive and he truly was the Messiah! The empty tomb proved all their hopes had been realized and God was at work! Then Jesus himself appeared to women. He showed them he was real and death had been defeated. He also told them to go and tell the disciples.
The women at the tomb were the first apostles. They were witnesses to Jesus' resurrection and they shared the good news. They were sent by Jesus to go and tell, and they faithfully went and told. On this point, all the gospels agree. The women were the first witnesses, while the men got all the credit. The men didn't show up at the tomb, the women did. The angel didn't speak to the men, but to the women. These women had been part of Jesus' ministry from the very beginning, but Christian history has regulated them to secondary status. I believe these women are shining examples of faith, courage, and witnessing. God chose them to be the first witnesses and they were faithful. We could all hope to do the same.
Prayer: Lord, help me to be a faithful witness to you. Help me share the good news that Christ is Risen! In Jesus' name, AMEN.