Sunday, April 16, 2017

Do Not Be Afraid, He is Risen

28:1 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he [1] lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:1-10 (ESV)
And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” and they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee and there they will see me.”
Jesus had told the disciples earlier that they should meet him in Galilee. I don’t think they were expecting to meet him there any longer. The women certainly were not. That morning they expected to find a cold and stiff body lying on hard rock, dead in a tomb. But they found, just as the angel had told them, that he was not there. He has risen.
Instead Jesus meets them on the road as they go back to the disciples to tell them what had happened. When the women do see Jesus the grab hold of him.
They grabbed hold of him. He was real. He had a body that could be touched, hugged, and kissed. This is the hope of the resurrection. Just as Jesus was risen from the dead, so too will you be raised. Not a phantom, not a ghost, but you with your body. Oh it will be changed. Jesus’s body was changed and yet it was the same. It will be glorified and changed so that we are not vexed even by the little things that are so annoying to us here on earth. But we will have bodies with which to hug and kiss our loved ones, with which to sit down at the feast of victory of the Lamb and eat and drink and make merry and rejoice for he has risen.
They worshiped him. Oh this is where he is to be found today. Rather this is where he finds you when you listen to the words he has entrusted to his messengers. Here it was the matter of angels. The women, perhaps they still were not certain of what was going on. The different gospel accounts are filled with the confusion you would expect surrounding such an unexpected event. But they do what the angel tells them, and on the way Jesus meets them to confirm them in the faith that he might meet them and grant them peace, give them courage to continue to believe, to continue with the faith.
They worshiped him, as we do today. It was not something that happened before the resurrection as he wandered about the countryside doing good and making people well. But now something had happened. The resurrection says something about Jesus and who he is. Not was, but is. For he is risen. And that he is risen means that he is God and worthy of worship. This is the decisive thing upon which the whole of Christianity stands or falls. His resurrection. Paul tells us in the 15th chapter of Corinthians that if he had not risen we would be most of all to be pitied. We would have made God out to be a liar. If Jesus had not risen, we should continue to worship and trust in the law as our only hope. But it would be a hope that was guaranteed to disappoint. The law will leave you in the grave.
But Jesus is risen, so we have no reason to be afraid, no reason to fear.
Alright. I’m not going to act as if I never have any fears. I have a family, and all the cares and worries that come with this world. I have a sinful heart that does not want to trust these fears to Jesus who cares for me more than I care for myself, even as he loves you even more than you know to love yourselves. And he has risen from the dead. Now you have eternal life. And when this world passes away with all its cares and worries, then we will all see just how foolish our fears were.
But Jesus did not come to give us a spirit of fear. Do not be afraid he tells he women who have worshiped him.
Afraid of what? The context here indicates that perhaps the women were afraid the disciples would not believe them. Fear threatened to silence them. This is why Jesus came, to encourage them and to take their fear away. And not just their fear of not being believed. But their fear in general.
Death rules through fear, the law rules through fear. And those two rule together. The Law bringing to death. But Jesus has overcome the law, fulfilled it for us. He conquered death and rose from the grave and tells you that you too will also rise from the grave. We have nothing to fear. Not anymore. And what of it if others don’t believe us? What of it if they laugh at us? Let them laugh. For our Lord has risen and the last laugh is his.

Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.  

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