On Easter morning three women see the stone in front of the tomb rolled away. Their eyes tell them that something has happened but they do not let that scare them. Their heart propels them forward for they have brought spices to anoint the dead body of Jesus. The different Gospels tell the story slightly differently but all writers agree that the women at this point encounter an angel that looks like a young man and speaks to their ears, “Be not afraid!” Jesus is not in the grave but he is risen! The women’s eyes see that something has happened and then they hear the explanation. Jesus is risen. Their senses confirm that they are in the presence of the unexpected.
Can you remember a time when you heard remarkable news? Perhaps it was when the doctor announced the birth of your child. “It’s a boy.” “It’s a girl.” Perhaps it was those words you feared you might never hear, “Will you marry me?” There is the joy of being offered a job you thought you would not get. There is the relief of hearing your loved one came through the operation. All these messages, as welcome as they are by our ears, must be lived into. We hear but do we fully understand and believe? The implications of the good news must be lived into. If Jesus is living, where is he? Is he still tattered and torn from the crucifixion? Perhaps that is why the angel starts with, “Do not be afraid.”
Matthew reports the angel as starting his announcement with, “Do not be afraid, for I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. (Matt 28:5)” How comforting these words are to our ears. Fear undermines our ability to comprehend our situations. Fear can cause us to freeze. What words comfort you and drive away fear? What words do you use to comfort someone else? Recently someone dear to me has been greeting me, “Hello friend.” One of my favorite Bible verses comes from 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” During times of upheaval like Easter morning, may we always hear God saying in our hearts “Do not fear!” We can cast our anxiety on him! Thank you Lord! We need your strength for what we are going through.