I clung to Mary Magdalene, as we both shook with fear. The earth was trembling beneath our feet again, made scarier by the early hour. Neither of us had slept much in the past two nights, our hearts broken with Jesus’ death, so we agreed to visit the tomb together even as the sun was just peeking over the hillside.
The last time the earth shook like this, not only did it signal Jesus’ final breath, but with it came miraculous events – the temple curtain had ripped in half and many of our dead had risen from their graves! Even as we mourned our Teacher’s passing, we rejoiced to see dear friends who had followed him, whom we had mourned, now walking and talking as if they’d never died. It still baffled us why God would value their lives more than that of his own son.
As the tremors ended, the entrance area, where Roman guards stood next to the large stone, lit up with a brilliant light. We shielded our eyes with our hands at the sudden radiance. Mary gave a little cry beside me as we saw that the light gleamed out of a man-like figure standing in front of us. He was dressed in white from head to toe, and it was his face that glowed like a flash of lightning.
My jaw dropped, as we stood paralyzed with fear, and watched him roll away the huge stone as if it were nothing. He then nimbly hopped up to sit on it. It was I who gasped this time as I watched the guards fall to the ground, one by one. Had they died? Would we be next? I gripped Mary’s arm so hard, I knew she’d have bruises there if we survived this. I could feel her trembling, but I couldn’t look away from the mystical creature that sat before us.
When he spoke, his voice flowed into my soul and I instantly felt lighter; the pain of loss that I’d carried for two days lifted and I listened with anticipation, already expecting good news. This was about Jesus. In my heart I had known this couldn’t be the end.
“Don’t be afraid.”
Despite the shaking earth, the possibly-dead guards, and the appearance of this supernatural man sitting before us, my spirit obeyed, and I was no longer afraid. Peace flowed into my being, and I leaned in to hear his next words even though his voice was loud and strong.
“I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.”
We both nodded, our voices unable to make sound.
The angel, for that is what he must be, gestured to the open doorway to the tomb with his arm. “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.”
Mary and I looked at each other then, our hearts pounding in our chests, not from fear but excitement. Jesus was alive?
The angel jumped down from his perch on the rock. “Come, see where his body was lying.”
We forced our feet into action and ran to the entrance. Empty – it was empty! There was no smell of death, no body wrapped in cloth. But we had watched Joseph lay him there! Where was he? How could this be?
Too scared to ask the glowing creature standing behind us, his grin from ear to shining ear, I looked at my companion. “Where is he?” I hissed.
Mary shrugged and turned toward the stranger, taking me with her.
He spoke again, with authority. “Now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.”
As the the edges of his body seemed to shimmer and become transparent, he said, “Remember what I have told you.” And then he was gone.
Mary’s fingernails were now boring into my arm as she tried to order words into a sentence, but they came tumbling out in a heap. Words like: Jesus. Gone. Empty. The tomb. Questions including: What? How? Where?
“We have to tell the others!” I cried. “They will never believe it, but we have to tell them – Jesus is alive!”
We joined hands and danced, leaping in the air with energy we shouldn’t have had after two sleepless nights.
“Come on!” Mary laughed, “We have to tell everyone!”
Then her face grew serious, as she looked to the rock where God’s messenger had sat, also noticing the guards rising slowly, fear and anger written on their faces.
“Trouble is not finished here. We mustn’t delay sharing this amazing news!”
We hurried off to the shouts of the guards, demanding we return with an explanation. Our hearts pounded as we pushed our legs to run as fast as we could.
When we had put some distance between us and the tomb, we stopped to catch our breath. The guards had not pursued us.
Bent over as I was, the first glimpse of him I saw was his feet. They still bore the wounds from the nails that had secured him to the cross. My increased heartbeat was no longer due to exertion. I stood up so suddenly, I swayed.
Mary’s head snapped up.
“Don’t be afraid!” he said, his warm familiar smile in place.
We both fell at his feet and worshiped him. The Messiah was alive and he was there! There in front of us!
After a few minutes of fellowship, Jesus repeated the angel’s message to us, “Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”
“We will, Lord!” we both said at once, then looked at each other and laughed. But when we looked around, Jesus was gone.
We ran laughing and crying with joy toward town. God chose us! We saw Jesus first, and he chose us to be his messengers! Praise be to God; Jesus is risen!
As we read the accounts of Jesus’s death and resurrection in the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we read different details in each one. This retelling is specifically based on the story told in Matthew 28. Were there more women present? Was Mary Magdalene actually alone? If we get hung up on these questions, we miss the main point of the story:
Jesus is risen!
God’s plan of salvation was complete. Jesus died as a punishment for our sins and then He rose again to give us life. When we ask Him to become the Lord of our lives, repenting of all our wrongdoings and selfish behavior, we become children of God – part of His family.
The Easter story is the pinnacle of our faith. We now have meaning and purpose in our lives. We have a personal relationship with a God who loves us and cares about everything we care about. We have hope for our future – eternal life with Him!
I thank You, Father, that Jesus’ resurrection brings us life. Move into my heart and resurrect it with a new awakening of Your love! Thank You for being the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Praise be to God; Jesus is risen!
If you haven’t given your heart to Jesus, what better time than on Easter! He’s ready to welcome you into the family.
Happy Easter, friends!
Val’s Stage Update
Two posts in one weekend! It is a special weekend indeed. For those of you who follow my blog, I’d like to let you know that I’ve made the decision to make Val’s Stage a bi-weekly blog, instead of weekly. The manuscript I have been working on for the last couple of years is in its final stage of editing and needs more of my attention! So, I’ll be here with a new post in two weeks!
If you haven’t taken advantage of my free audio prayer/meditation series, you will find the information on my Home page.
Have a great week!