1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Dear God, there are different tellings of this story in the Gospels, and it is interesting to see the different details that each write shares. Matthew seems to be more nuts and bolts about the story. Perhaps it’s the accountant in him. He doesn’t tell us the story about Jesus appearing as a gardener. He doesn’t tell us about Peter and John running to the tomb to check it out for themselves. But I just looked at the other four stories and I think this is the only one that mentions the earthquake.
In times like this I always try to take the story’s details and try to figure out what the author’s message to me is. What is it that Matthew wants me to take away from this? In this case, I think he wants me to know that:
- It was the women who were out working to ensure Jesus was buried correctly. In fact, the disciples didn’t do anything to take care of Jesus’ body after the crucifixion (that was left to a couple of Jewish church leaders) and they were apparently not going to do anything to ensure his body was buried correctly (perhaps this was considered “women’s work” at that time, but it’s still interesting).
- The women felt God move supernaturally. They felt the earthquake. They saw the angel. They saw the stone had been moved. They saw the guards “like dead men.”
- The angel told them that Jesus was alive, “just as he said,” he was going to Galilee, and that they needed to tell the disciples to meet him there.
- The women actually saw Jesus himself, and He also told them to tell the disciples about meeting Him in Galilee.
Father, I guess my overall take away from this story is that this wasn’t a vague, mysterious resurrection. You demonstrated your power. You communicated with the women who were trying to care for Jesus. You reminded them that this had all been predicted before. Then Jesus actually appeared to them. There was no room left for interpretation. Thank you for this story. Thank you for the resurrection. There is a gentleness about this story that is sweet. It seems to be about reassurance (to the women) and forgiveness (of the disciples). There is no vengeance here for the terrible death of Jesus. There is only a continued execution of the plan. How great is that?