November 16

Text: Matthew 28:8

And they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. (NASB)

The women went to visit a grave and see a body—a moment of sorrowful remembrance for someone they deeply cared about when he was alive.  They went in sorrow expecting the sorrow to intensify when they saw the wrapped body, the grim reminder of what was but could never be again.  The most intense concern they had was how they would gain access to the tomb.

Instead, they found an angel with an announcement of Jesus’ resurrection, an empty tomb with easy access, a divine invitation to see that the tomb was empty, and an angel-given mission.  Never had they experienced a morning like this!

Everything was so unusual—the angel, the resurrection, the message—that their first response was fear.  However, the angel assured them there was nothing for them to fear—for them this was all good!  What must have been an overwhelming fear became an overwhelming joy.  It was all real!  Their message was based on reality, not imagination.

Conversion still turns fear into joy for the same reason experienced by those women!  It, for us, is all a matter of perspective.  If we look at what we are without the resurrected Jesus, we see personal evil.  We are ruled by rebellion against God and His ways.  We see reasons to be afraid—terrified by who we are and what we have done.  When we contrast ourselves to God’s holiness, we tremble.

However, trusting what God did in Jesus and Jesus’ resurrection, suddenly the reason for fear disappears and the reason for joy emerges.  When we see what God makes us through the resurrected Jesus, we see the assurance of righteousness.  This is not founded upon us and what we have done, but upon God and what He has done.  As Paul told Corinthian Christians in 1 Corinthians 1:30, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,” (NASB).  Christians obey because they appreciate God and what He has done and is doing through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Suggestion for reflection: Do your thoughts of God produce fear, joy, or both?  Why?  (Read Philippians 3:8-16.)

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