We now look back on the empty tomb with gladness. But on the morning of the resurrection, gladness was not the predominant emotion. Rather, there was sadness, hopelessness, fear, anger, guilt, and many other feelings going through the friends of the Messiah. They had forgotten His promise to raise Himself from the dead. But Christ’s enemies had not forgotten His words. In fact, they believed something crazy was possible, so they set guards at the tomb to keep anyone from taking His body and claiming resurrection.
Of course, you can stop a grave-robber… but you can’t stop a resurrection. Here is how Matthew records the events of that resurrection morning. “After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his robe was as white as snow. The guards were so shaken from fear of him that they became like dead men.” (Matthew 28:1-4)
The guards were so shaken by the angel of the Lord that they became like dead men. We have come to view angels as cuddly creatures, or even body guards. But angels are terrifying creatures sent on a specific awe-inspiring message… every time. Angels are messengers sent from the throne of God almighty. Angels don’t ‘hang out’. Whenever an angel shows up in Scripture, people are scared out of their wits. This show of power caused the guards to become like dead men.
Now, fast forward to the book of Revelation. Jesus’ close disciple, John is writing about seeing Jesus in person some 60-70 years later. Here is how he describes the encounter. “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. He laid His right hand on me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.’” (Revelation 1:17-18)
John, a very close friend of Jesus exhibited the same reaction when he saw the Lord. He became as a dead man. There was only one difference. John “fell at His feet like a dead man.” He worshipped the Savior. He experienced the same awe of the power of God. The apostle John was overcome by the same power that had struck the guards at the tomb. But Jesus offered Him peace because of His posture of worship. He had become one of those messengers of God. He had seen Jesus alive, dead, and alive again. He was living the life that could only come from the One who is Alive Forever and Ever.
Today we remember the rising Son. We should be in awe of His worth and work. It should strike us with great fear and reverence. But we can worship Him and be raised with Him in glory.
He was dead, but look – He is alive forever and ever!
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