November 15

Text: Matthew 28:5-7

And the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.  He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.  Come, see the place where He was lying.  And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going before you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you."  (NASB)

The contrast between the angel’s appearance to the guards and the angel’s appearance to the women is striking.  The angel’s interaction with those present depended on the person’s relationship with Jesus.  If it was the relationship of an enemy, it was a fear relationship.  If it was the relationship of a friend, it was a joy relationship.

Matthew gave no indication that the angel even spoke to the guards.  They were left to observe and conclude from those observations.  Everything they observed said they were in serious danger—the earthquake, the appearing and task of the angel, and their failure to perform their commissioned work.  If they told the unbelievers who sent them, what would those people think?  Those people had Jesus crucified—what would they do to them?  Did they dare speak against the angel?

Yet the same angel at the same place spoke to the women.  The first words to them: “Do not be afraid.”  While the angel did nothing to end the guards’ fear, he did not want the women to experience fear.  “I know why you are here.”  The women were there for a good motive—they had no reason to be afraid.

It is no stretch, no exaggeration to conclude that the angel knew why the guards were there.  There is no reason to think they had good motives.  They had reason to behave as dead men who were afraid of what might happen.  When merciless people are forced to depend on nothing but mercy, they fear.

The women had a mission.  They quickly were to tell the disciples (the remaining eleven???) that the resurrection was real—just as he promised.  “Come, look at the tomb!”  The resurrected Jesus would meet the disciples in Galilee—just as he promised.  The angel confirmed that it would happen.

Both the guards and the women were witnesses with a message.  The guards’ message would produce fear and anxiety.  The women’s message would produce joy and hope.  For some the resurrection was bad news.  For some it was good news.  In that truth, nothing has changed.

Suggestion for reflection: What changeless truths do you know that are bigger than physical life?  (Read 2 Timothy 2:11-19.)

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