Matthew 28:1-8 – “Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came 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 from the door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.
5 But the angel answered and 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 is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”
8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.” NKJV
Imagine the scene at the sealed tomb on that eventful day. The Roman soldiers assigned to guard the tomb were in all likelihood unbelievers whose only concern was ensuring that the followers of Christ did not steal His body and perpetrate a fraud upon the people. They were, as their superiors, convinced that the only way Jesus’ prophecy of rising again on the 3rd day could even appear fulfilled was His followers taking and hiding His body. The disciples were perplexed, their Messiah was dead. Everything about that troubled them because they were convinced He had come to restore the kingdom to Israel but He was dead. The two Mary’s came to the tomb that morning and with many questions nursing their disappointment and despair. Matthew records it that when they went there was a great earthquake and an angel of God descended rolling away the stone from the door and sat on it. The angel’s countenance was like lightening bring terror to the hearts of the guards. The announcement of the angel to the two Mary’s was, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said…”
The angel brought them into the tomb to witness the emptiness of it and then instructed them to go quickly to the other disciples and tell them that JESUS IS ALIVE and that He would go before them into Galilee where they would see Him. The two Mary’s went quickly from the tomb with “FEAR and GREAT JOY”. In many respects, that is exactly the condition we should live our lives in following our LORD. Proverbs 9:10 instructs, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” In Proverbs 2:5 where the writer is speaking about God’s Words and Wisdom tells us that as we mine out the nuggets of truth in the Word we gain an understanding of the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
It is as we KNOW God that we both FEAR and LOVE Him. It is as we KNOW God and His WORD we have a foundation to understand His purposes, promises, and provisions. It is as we KNOW Him that we understand the importance and impact of being God-fearing and the Joy His Love brings. It is reverential but it is more than just respect it is an understanding that He love us unconditionally but is Holy and will judge sin unforgiven without favor. The FEAR of God can and should bring Great Joy because it enables us to comprehend the choice between sin and salvation, heaven and hell, life and death. The women went from the tomb with FEAR because His resurrection anchored their Hope that He was the Messiah and God. It produced Great Joy because, in that confidence, which brought trembling to their mortal minds, they could REJOICE that ALL HE SAID and PROMISED WAS REAL.
So on this day of Celebration of His Resurrection may we move forward with FEAR and GREAT JOY! May the richness of His presence, the power of His provision, and the permanence of His promises explode in your hearts today!
Happy Easter, First Fruits, or Resurrection Sunday if you prefer. God bless you is my prayer and desire!