This is one of the most significance stories that anyone could ever hear. (Read Matthew 28).
What I really like abot this story is that it is so shocking. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb fully expecting to find the body of Jesus. What they didn’t expect was an ‘earthquake’. Then what was even more unexpected was a visitation from an angel from heaven who had rolled the stone away. His white clothes and lightning like appearance was so shocking to the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb that they shook with fear and fell to the ground as though dead. The women were also struck with fear after all there had been an earthquake and they’re visited by this radiant heavenly visitor. They see the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb collapse in fear and the dead body of Jesus is nowhere to be seen. But the most shocking thing of all is the claim made by the angelic visitor that Jesus is alive from the dead just as he had said.
This shocking story is also a bit ‘perplexing’. Jesus had clearly told his own disciples on a number of occasions that he would rise from the dead but none of them, including these faithful women, were expecting Jesus to be alive (See John 2:19, Matthew 12:39-40, 16:21, 17:22, 20:17-19, 21:38-39, 26:2, 12). Why were so incapable of hearing what Jesus had said and alluded to on several occasions? Now having received the shocking revelation regarding the risen Christ they are told to tell Jesus’ disciples to meet Jesus in Galilee. They leave filled with this strange combination of fear and joy. As they run to tell the others they meet the resurrected Jesus and fall at his feet and worship him. Jesus sends them on to tell his disciples to meet him in Galilee.
The story has much to tell us about the character of men. We learn much from the various responses to this shocking revelation of the empty tomb and the angel’s message of the risen Lord. The soldiers are also filled with fear but they fall down as though dead. But what is perplexing is when they tell the high priest then they become part of a plot to cover up that has happened. The soldiers tell the religious leaders the truth of what happened but they are offered a bride to say that Jesus’ disciples stole the body at night while they were sleeping. The soldiers agree and they accept the bribe and they spread the alternative account. The high priest and the elders are not moved to repentance but seek to cover it up the truth of Jesus with their own twisted false account. What a picture of what we are all capable of apart from God’s grace. Left to ourselves we would rather lie than repent and admit the errors of our ways!
By contrast the women respond to the shocking episode by running to tell the disciples the ‘good news’. On their way they meet the resurrected Jesus and they grasp Jesus’ feet and worship him. The women tell the eleven disciples who go to a mountain in Galilee where they see the ‘resurrected Jesus’. Their response is also shocking because some worship and yet ‘some doubted!’ Perhaps they were just slow of heart to believe but maybe they were not yet able to grasp that Jesus is the appropriate object of worship and were not yet able to grasp what we know about the deity of Christ and triune nature of God.
So what does the story tell us about God and about Jesus? The resurrection proves that Jesus really is God’s Messiah. Jesus really does fulfill all that was foretold about the Messiah who was to come. This shocking story and the varying responses to the ‘good news’ in Christ tells us that ‘genuine faith’ is the gift of God. Faith is not something that we can just conjure up in our own strength; it is God’s gracious gift to man. God must foretell, God must fulfill, God must reveal and God must grant faith and repentance and apart from his gracious intervention we simply will not believe. Then we see that God gives the resurrected Jesus (the divine Messiah) all authority in heaven and on earth so that all authority belongs to the resurrected Messiah Jesus; who is now revealed as the proper object of worship.
So what is the faithful, trusting and appropriate response to the ‘good news’ of the resurrected Jesus, who has conquered death, and who revealed himself to these first disciples; the women who grasped his feet and the eleven who meet him on the mountain? How should we respond to the one who has been given ‘all power and all authority’ in heaven and on earth? Having one’s eyes opened to the reality of the resurrected Christ should fill the heart with fear and joy. The resurrected Jesus has become the proper object of our worship. The true worshiper will worship Jesus with fear and joy even if others doubt, eve if we struggle with our own doubts. What is the appropriate response to the resurrected Jesus? We should respond with fear, with joy, with faith, and having fallen down in worship we are to get up willing to play our part in the fulfillment of the ‘great commission’. We are to respond by not being content until the nations are baptized into the name of the Triune God and are taught to obey everything Jesus has commanded. As these women clung to Jesus’ feet, we are to cling to the promise that all power and authority belong to Jesus and that Jesus will be with us even to the end of the age.