"The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
Mary Magdalene and another Mary were on their way to the tomb to prepare Jesus's body for burial. Because of the time of Jesus' death...His body was placed in the tomb...but it was not given the proper burial as was tradition. These ladies were on their way to achieve that task.
I wonder what if Mary & Mary simply had decided not to go back to the tomb and prepare His body. What if they had sat down and said..."What's the use?" What if they had just given up? What if they had just thrown up their hands and said..."I don't care anymore, He is gone and I have no hope of a Savior!"
Whether or not they were tempted to, I'm glad they didn't quit. That would have been tragic. You see they thought they were alone. They weren't alone though...they thought their journey was going unnoticed. That was not the case...God knew! He was watching them walk up the mountain. He was measuring their steps. I can just see Him smiling at them...thrilled at their devotion. And He had a surprise waiting just for them!
Why did the angel move the stone? What reason did he really roll the rock away? For Jesus? Well when I truly think on this question..I know in my heart it was not so Jesus could come out...it was so these women could look in!
Think about it...does God really need to move a rock so Jesus can come out? Did the stone have to be removed in order for Jesus to exit? Was the conqueror of death so weak that He couldn't do that for Himself? The one who healed the blind...and brought Lazarus back to life again, you really think He couldn't come out unless someone moved the stone?
These verses tell us that Jesus was already out when the stone was moved. Read it again...verse 6 says, "Come and see the place where he lay." The stone was not moved so Jesus could come out...but so that these women could see in!
Our Scripture goes on to say in verses 7 & 8, "Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." The two Mary's don't have to be told twice...they look and see that their Savior is not there and turn to tell the others...the Good News!
Now I want to just think about my Savior's joy for a moment. I know He takes great delight in giving precious gifts to those He loves. Those who know Him as a personal Savior. In verses 9 & 10 Jesus meets them and says, "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
The God of surprises strikes again. It's as if He can't wait any longer. I can hear Him say, "They came this far to see me...I'm going to drop in on them so they can rejoice and have full joy!"
I know when I have a gift for my husband...or my children...I really can't wait until they open the gift! I want to help them untie the ribbon...and tear open the paper. I can just sense that this is the same excitement of Jesus that day!
Because see my Savior is a God of love and mercy...God does that for the faithful. Just when the womb gets to old for babies, Sarai gets pregnant. Just when the failure is too great for grace, David is pardoned. And just when the road is too dark for Mary and Mary, the angel glows and the Savior shows and the two women will never be the same.
The lesson? Three words, "Don't give up!" Is the trail dark? Don't sit. Is the road long? Don't stop. Is the night black? Don't quit. God is watching for all you know right at this moment He may be telling the angel to move the stone.
God still sends His angels...and God still moves stones!
But there is one more thing God does in this chapter of Matthew...He gives the "Great Commission" to His followers. Matthew 28:18-20 says, "Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
So I have to ask you, "What does the Great Commission mean to you? Has it made a practical difference in your life?" There are so many opportunities to serve in God's Kingdom. Take a moment and seek God's direction for what that means to you. Ask God for wisdom to understand where you fit in to His plan.
"We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me" (Colossians 1:28-29).
I love you and pray God's grace to you...that you may look in the tomb and see the real victory!