The women sadly walked to the tomb. In everyone’s haste to beat sundown on Friday, Jesus’ body had not been properly prepared for burial. They were going to finish the task. They hoped that perhaps the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb would help by rolling the stone seal away so they could enter.
When they arrived, surprise, shock and confusion morphed into alarm in a moment. The stone had been rolled away. The soldiers were gone. The tomb inside was dim, the only light streaming in from outside. Their shadows loomed large on the tomb walls as they looked within.
Instead of a wrapped corpse, they saw a man in white – an angel. The encounter is worth reading again from Mark:
When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side; they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he told them. “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they put him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see him there just as he told you.’” (Mark 16.5-7)
The angel’s instructions are significant:
- Don’t be alarmed.
- See the place where He laid.
- Go, tell His disciples.
The women didn’t intend to be alarmed. They were still grieving and were sad. But it was not a time for alarm. And yet, their hearts pounded. The angel assured them that all was well. The stupendous announcement: “He has risen! He is not here!” grappled with fear, seeking to subjugate it to faith.
They were looking for a dead Jesus, not anticipating a risen Lord. It’s what our world still expects to find when it looks at Jesus. People who have not yet been alarmed by Jesus’ bodily absence from the tomb apathetically expect to find Him there. Powerless. Irrelevant. Decaying. Dead.
And yet, what happened that Sunday morning has reshaped all of history. It is cause for celebration. It changes our eternal destination.
It’s important to “see the place where He laid.” Because it’s empty. He was there, but He is now reigning. We must remember what put Him there. It wasn’t grieving disciples that placed Jesus in the tomb after His crucifixion. It was our sin. My sin. Your sin. Let’s “see the place where He laid” and be reminded that our sin put Him there. But it could not keep Him there.
He defeated death. Sin. Fear. He is risen!
On this Easter Sunday, review the three things the angel told the disciples, and examine your own heart.
- Are you experiencing alarm, anxiety, fear, anger, shame?
- Look at the place where Jesus was laid. It was a tomb. He is no longer there. He died to take away your fear, anxiety, fear, anger and shame. Place your trust and faith in Him.
- Finally, after you have been renewed in this time of reflection, do not keep the good news of a risen Savior to yourself. Go and tell others. Share how much Jesus means to you with family, friends, coworkers. And if you’re reading this before service times at your church, it’s not too late for that one last text or phone call to a friend – invite them to Easter services with you.
It’s time to celebrate!