I am afraid of many things. So many, in fact, I don’t know how to start. Some are dumb, some are very real. The real estate market is one. It’s crazy! We all know it. When is it going to crash? That’s what I am afraid of. How about cancer? The Doctor said she got it all, but what if it comes back? I am afraid of that too! Every day, I think about what I am afraid of. Not until I read Matthew 28 today, did I realize the root of my fear. It is not what I am afraid of that is the problem, it is why I am afraid.
From today’s reading in Matthew 28, we join the two Marys visiting Jesus’ grave. Upon their arrival, they are greeted by the angel that is now in charge of the tomb. Knowing the terror that he could trigger, the angel quickly interceded saying, “do not be afraid.” Then comes the reminder. “He is not here, for He has risen. As he said.”
Look a little closer at that last sentence. “As he said.” It is easy to miss. The angel was not telling them something they didn’t already know. In fact, Jesus had been telling them all along. Remember in Matthew 16? Jesus tells the disciples that he will go away and suffer many things. But, he assures him, “I will rise again on the 3rd day” (Matt 16:21). So, what were the Mary’s afraid of? A scary angel, for sure. But don’t you think they were also afraid of an empty grave? Those are the whats. But, remember, the better question is why.
Why were the Marys afraid? The root of their anxiety is belief. Or, more accurately, they were afraid because of their unbelief. Their gut reaction is that Jesus was a lie. He died and now he is gone. Not just the man, but their hope was gone. It makes sense, of course. There were no witnesses to see Jesus leave the grave and we humans must make sense of it so we do what we do best. Make up a story that makes sense to us.
Thankfully, the angel quickly led them back to Jesus’ promises. “As he said.”
He said…. that he would die, and rise again (Matt 16:21).
He said…. That he will never leave or forsake you (Deut 31:6-8)
He said… He will work all things for our good (Romans 8:28)
He said…. That he will complete us (2 Tim 3:17)
He said…. That we shall inherit the land (Psalm 37:9)
He said…. That he will always be with us (Matt 28:20)
It does my soul well to remember the things God says. Now, I am not afraid.