Prepare to Listen. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
Prayerfully Read Matthew 28:1-10
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’ 8So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’
Twice, first by the angel and then by Jesus, the women were greeted with, “Do not be afraid.” The guards at the tomb were terrified, and who can blame them. Matthew alone highlights the drama at the tomb—an earthquake, a large stone rolled away, guards fainting, an angel looking like lightning. It was enough to terrify the bravest. They needed to hear Don’t be afraid, again and again. But there was good news from the angel. The one they grieved on Saturday was alive on Sunday. The women believed and raced back to Jerusalem. They hadn’t gone far when Jesus appeared to them and repeated, ‘Don’t be afraid.’ That’s the Easter message.
Sadly, we haven’t got it. I know Christians today who are controlled by fear. They fear people who disagree with them about what to believe and how to behave. In their fear they make enemies out of people who aren’t on their side, who vote differently, join different political parties. They live in fear that their enemy may win and take control. And they let fear lead them into a wasteland.
We need to hear the risen Lord say to us again, DO NOT BE AFRAID. If we truly believe the resurrection, truly believe Jesus is alive and in our midst today, we have no justification for fear. Jesus is Lord, not us. Jesus is alive and in control of the world, moving it towards the end God desired from the beginning. Do not be afraid. Instead, like the women, take hold of Jesus’ feet and worship him.
Ponder this Easter message today: Don’t be afraid. How will you respond to the fear around you today?
Respond in Prayer
Lord you are to be praised and worshiped because you have overcome the world and also my many fears. Help me grasp the meaning of the resurrection and live in trust not fear. Amen.
Live Obediently. Do not be afraid.
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Despite having frequently read and taught Matthew's Gospel, preparing these daily devotions, taking that second gaze, has surprised me with newness.