April 9, 2023
“Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and His clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw Him, and they fell into a dead faint. Then the angel spoke to the women. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen. Come, see where His body was lying. And 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. Remember what I have told you.’ The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to Him, grasped His feet, and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid! Go tell My brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.” (Matthew 28:1-10)
What do you think it would have been like to watch Jesus’ resurrection? What if we could have had our choice of theater seats directly across from the tomb that first Easter morning? Most of us would have been uncertain that anything was going to happen. But then, we would have seen a resplendent light followed by momentary silence before a deafening noise. Then, miracle of miracles, Jesus would have stepped out from the grave, alive and well. Our eyes would have been as big as saucers. Our jaws would have dropped. An overwhelming sense of wonder and worship would have overcome us. We might have even fainted from the glory of it all as did the guards. One thing is certain. The sights we saw and the emotions we felt we would have never forgotten.
The effects of the resurrection were felt that first Easter Sunday and they are still felt today. First, the earth felt the effects of the resurrection. Matthew reports that “there was a violent earthquake” (Matthew 28:2). The earth shook. The ground quaked. It rocked and reeled. The olive trees in the garden waved their twisted limbs. The earth had trembled in sorrow at the crucifixion, but it leapt for joy at the news of the resurrection.
Second, the angel felt the effects of the resurrection. Matthew writes that “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 white as snow.” (Matthew 28:2-3) Like a Marvel (or DC) action hero, shafts of lightning blazed from the angel with His clothes shimmering like new fallen snow. He rolled the stone away from the tomb not to let Jesus out, but to let the women and the disciples in. The angel sat on the rock that had been rolled away, indicating the triumph of the resurrection.
Third, the guards felt the effects of the resurrection. Matthew writes, “The guards were so shaken from fear of him that they became like dead men.” (Matthew 28:4) They were shaking in their sandals while scared stiff at the same time. It’s ironic. The ones keeping watch over the dead became as dead men themselves.
Fourth, the women felt the effects of the resurrection. Matthew writes, “After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb.” (Matthew 28:1) The ladies came to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. They had been concerned about who might move the stone away for them. However, upon seeing the stone rolled away and hearing the proclamation of the angel about Jesus’ resurrection, they were filled with wonder, awe, and joy. They went immediately to share what they had seen.
We also feel the effects of the resurrection today. Easter is an earthquake that shook the entire world. It got everyone’s attention. At the crucifixion, the world did all it could to Jesus. At Easter, God did all He could for the world. And the earth shook. That’s not something we explain. It’s something we experience. It goes right through us and we understand that the world will never be the same. When the stone was rolled away and the earth shook, we got our first glimpse of a new world. It’s a world where death doesn’t have the last word, where injustice is made right, and innocent suffering is vindicated by the intrusion of a powerful God.
Does Easter have that kind of effect on you? If not, today is a great day to check your spiritual pulse. Maybe you haven’t spent enough time contemplating what the resurrection actually means for you, your family, and the whole world. Maybe it’s time for you to see and experience the power of the resurrection all over again. Maybe it’s time for you to let God shake your world like an earthquake once again. Maybe it’s time you let God roll the stone away from your cold and hardened heart so you can feel the presence of Jesus.
Wherever we may be, when the Lord is present, that place is alive with wonder and worship. When Mary Magdalene and the other Mary saw Jesus, they worshiped Him. Today, when we encounter the living Jesus, our response should also be to worship and celebrate His presence.
FOLLOW UP ACTIVITY
Today, on Easter Sunday, do your best to gather together with others to worship the Lord. When you do, strive to sense His presence in the corporate worship, experience the gratitude that goes along with the realization of all He has done for us, and then go and share His love with those you encounter.
PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I worship You today. I honor You for defeating death, hell, and the grave when you rose from the dead. Thank You for Easter. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.