1 After the Sabbath, as Sunday morning was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 Suddenly there was a violent earthquake; an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled the stone away, and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid that they trembled and became like dead men. 5 The angel spoke to the women. “You must not be afraid,” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has been raised, just as he said. Come here and see the place where he was lying. 7 Go quickly now, and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from death, and now he is going to Galilee ahead of you; there you will see him!’ Remember what I have told you.” 8 So they left the tomb in a hurry, afraid and yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Peace be with you.” They came up to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. 10 “Do not be afraid,” Jesus said to them. “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
Other readings: Romans 6:3-11; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
This is Matthew’s Resurrection narrative, where we learn of Jesus’s victory, how he overcame death and sin forever when he died on the Cross for us. We have the victory now, though our bodily resurrection won’t happen until the end of time.
In a few simple words, Matthew describes the moment when the women discover Jesus is alive. These words speak volumes. Threaded through every simple word is the wonder that the women must have experienced at discovering Jesus alive.
Matthew sets the scene – there was an earthquake and then an angel descended from heaven and rolled the massive stone away. The guards look on trembling with fear and become like “dead men”. They were probably frozen with fear, unable to speak or move.
The two women go to the tomb perhaps as a focus for their grief and to mourn. They are not expecting to meet a living Jesus at all – far from it.
Knowing how frightened the two women must be, the angel tells them not to be afraid and explains that Jesus is no longer dead but has been raised back to life, just as he said he would be. The angel shows them the empty tomb and sends them on their way back to the disciples to give them the dramatic news – Jesus has risen from the dead!
On the way to tell the disciples they meet Jesus face to face. They are the first witnesses of the empty tomb and its real meaning. The tomb was not empty because someone had desecrated it and stolen Jesus’s body. It was empty because Jesus had risen from the dead.
In the verses after our reading (11-15), we learn that the guards report what they had seen to the chief priests, who assemble an emergency meeting. They offer the soldiers a large sum of money as a bribe to keep quiet about what they really saw. Instead, they lie and say that the disciples stole Jesus’s body during the night while they were asleep.
As you celebrate this wonderful day in the life of the Church, try to imagine just how amazed and excited the two women must have been when Jesus met them.
Think about the first time Jesus came “alive” for you. Has your faith and wonder in Jesus’s Resurrection grown or diminished over the years?
Consider the contrast between the two women and the guards. Both witnessed the most significant event in human history. The women proclaim the good news. The guards lie to conceal it. What can we learn from this?
Faith in the Resurrection of Jesus is a fundamental part of our Christian faith. Pray through Romans 6:3-11 asking God to bring these promises to life in your heart and experience.
How would you summarise the Easter events for a friend who wants to know the real significance of Easter? Try jotting down the details to help sort out the important facts and remember them.
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