"After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." Matthew 28:1-10 (NIV)
Today’s lectionary reading of the gospel is the account of the morning of the resurrection. As I read that passage my mind thinks that this might be better to read and reflect on Easter than after Easter, but yet, this passage has significant meaning for us after Easter Sunday.
First of all, the resurrection took place AFTER the Sabbath. God could have orchestrated the gospel story from the beginning of time with Jesus rising from the dead on the Sabbath instead of Sunday, but God didn’t. God was doing a new thing. God’s Son was resurrected on the first day of the week. This is why we worship on Sundays. Every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection. But it also should remind us that Jesus should always have first place in our hearts and lives.
Secondly, the resurrection had already taken place and so has Easter. Jesus was not in an empty tomb and neither is He in empty and dead religion. Jesus is alive and well and lives today! If you are looking for a dead, defeated Savior your search will come up empty because He is Risen!
What is significant about telling the disciples that Jesus was going ahead of them to Galilee? I can understand the significance of telling the disciples that Jesus had risen, but what is so important about tacking on this statement?
Jesus had predicted that His disciples would all fall away on account of Him (see Zech 13:7), and that most likely they would return back to their homes in Galilee defeated and discouraged. How is that significant to you and me? Jesus knows what you are returning to this week. He knows what you are about to face. Not only will Jesus be there with you, but He is going there ahead of you to prepare the way. He has promised to reveal himself in whatever you may face in the days ahead.
Oh, and by the way, before you even move on this week, be ready to hear your name and see Christ. Just as Jesus revealed Himself to those ladies He is anxious to speak your name and to reveal Himself to you!