Today’s reading is Matthew 28
This is the account after Jesus death on the cross. He had been placed in a sealed tomb with guards for 3 days. The guards were there as requested by the Pharisees. They remembered Jesus saying he would rise on the third day. If the guards were in place the disciples wouldn’t be able to steal him away to falsely fulfill Jesus words. The Pharisees were afraid Jesus may actually be who he said he was. (Matthew 27:62-65).
In Matthew 28, Mary Madgdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb. They probably hadn’t slept and were feeling heavy hearted and dismayed. They went expecting to care for Jesus dead body but instead they were met with an earthquake and an angel telling them that Jesus was not in the tomb!! The guards passed out in fear. The angel said “don’t be afraid” and instructed the women to go tell the disciples. They were the first to learn and share the good news of Jesus Resurrection. Jesus meeting them on the way sealed the deal for them. He reminded them” Don’t be afraid!”
In Matthew 28:8 it says they were “frightened but also filled with great joy!”. I love this description – just like any great adventure in our lives should feel. We may be frightened but also filled with great joy as we share the good news of Jesus resurrection that brings us eternal life. The gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) all account for this event with different perspectives and details but the bottom line is the same in each account….Jesus was not in the tomb! Matthew 28: 6 says “He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen”.
Unfortunately some guards at the tomb went to the leading priests to tell them what happened. The priests bribed them to keep that news to themselves and instead say the disciples came in the night and stole Jesus body. The guards were paid off and everyone agreed on the story. This sad theory still circulates today.
Jesus goes on to meet with the disciples in Galilee and he gives the Great Commission. Matthew 28: 18 – Jesus came and told his disciples,” I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
This is the ultimate fork in road. Do you believe Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after being crucified? Do you believe the tomb was empty? Are you frightened but also filled with great joy at the thought of Jesus dying on the cross for your sins and then rising from the dead on the third day to give eternal life?
“Don’t be afraid”. Go and tell the good news.