You have been there too. Those moments when it feels like the world just stopped. Life isn’t worth living anymore. The only thing left is to mourn. That’s why the women went to the tomb early on the first day of the week. They went to mourn the loss of their friend and their hope.
It is important for us to remember that the resurrection caught them completely by surprise. They expected to find a corpse, but instead they were amazed with the Christ. Mark records the event this way: “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” (Mk 16:1–3).
Just as they were amazed with what they seen in the Garden Tomb, we too should be convicted by the same evidence of the resurrected Jesus.
And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” Mk 16:4–7.
For 2000 years that scene has convicted many by giving evidence to the Gospel. We are convicted by the stone which was rolled away. The Roman guards were astonished and powerless. The stone which was placed to keep the body inside was removed, not to let Jesus our, but so that the world could see the empty tomb. The message from the angels is the same message of hope running from Genesis to Revelation. The earlier words of Jesus about His resurrection appearances which made no sense before, now were more astonishing than ever. he has risen.
FEAR OF THE UNEXPECTED
What would you do? If you were at the tomb at daybreak, just as the sun was rising the Son of God had already risen. If you saw the angels, if you saw the Roman guards, what would be your first move. Run away? Hide in the bushes to see what would happen? What would you do?
We know what these ladies did. Mark records “And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:8). Mark multiplies fear words here with τρόμος (‘trembling’), ἔκστασις (‘astonishment/terror’), and ἐφοβοῦντο (‘they were afraid’).
It seems that as they were running away their senses catch up to them for Matthew says, “So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples” (Matthew 28:8). As they are running with fear and joy in equal measures “behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (Matthew 28:9–10).
What could cause such great fear among these women? Perhaps, they were moved with fear of what had happened; what would happen; and what could happen. Try to put yourself in their position. They had just encountered the greatest miracle which would ever occur. They had just seen and spoken to angels. They had just witnessed the biggest news story in all of history! But they also had to think about what would happen next. Would the Romans execute them just as they had Jesus? Would anyone ever believe this unbelievable story? What would Jesus’ next move be? What would be next? But they also had to be wondering what could happen now. They had just witnessed the evidence of Jesus being the long anticipated Messiah. They were going to live in the Messianic age. What could it be like? They had to be thinking about the Jews being liberated from Rome. Could this be the day? They had to be wondering if others would be risen from the grave. What great things was God about to do?
They had the great pleasure of not knowing what would be next. In some way we do as well. We can’t know what God has in store for us. Ephesians 3:20 says that God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” What could God do through us? What great thing does God have in store? Healing relationships? Healing a time of brokenness? Healing our broken soul? Healing another through our own service? God can do do great things, let’s work with him.
When Jesus was beaten, scourged, crucified, and buried, his disciples fled, feared, and hid for their lives. But after they had seen the evidence of the risen Lord they rose to the occasion. While there was still room for spiritual development, their Lord had a mission for them to fulfill. Mark “presents three testimonies to the disbelieving disciples in an order of increasing authority: one female witness (vv. 9–11), two male witnesses (vv. 12–13; the Greek pronouns are masculine), and the resurrected Jesus himself (v. 14).” Finally, it was time for His mission to become their mission and ours.
Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:14–17).
Here is the mission of every congregation, family, and individual who is blessed to know of the Lord. “Go and preach”.
When God had created the heavens and the earth he put mankind in the Garden “to tend it and keep it.” When Adam and Eve were united in marriage, they were told to be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). After the flood Noah and his family were told to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). At each of these major events, God wanted his people to win the world for him. The resurrection of Christ from the dead defeated sin, death, and the grave. There was a brave new world that needed to be won for God. The disciples of Jesus were responsible for winning the world for God jus as they are today.
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
The great evangelistic work of the disciples was unexpected, but after the resurrection it was the only possible path they could have chosen. Like the women who ran from the empty tomb, you may have been running from Jesus. You can’t run forever. They were filled with both fear and joy. This is they way we live our Christian lives. We are filled with fear at times, but we also have great joy in Christ.
How are you going to respond in the future? Are you going to be evangelistic? Are you going to “go into all the world”? Are you going to tell someone across the street or across the hall? Make some plans to do something great for God.
What are you going to do right now? This could be the day you become a Christian by being buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through the power of God. It could be the day you begin living with great zeal for the Lord just as the apostles learned to do. What will you do today?