Matthew 28:1-10 NRSV
The Resurrection of Jesus
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of 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.”
Two things leaped out at me as I read this story several times. First the women “left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy.” I don’t think of fear and joy being companions, but of course they are. You hold your new infant and your heart just about breaks with fear and joy. You are afraid to live in a world without your father, yet you are full of joy that his suffering is over. You are thrilled that your child is going off to college; and full of fear. Joy. Fear. That the Savior you saw die might be alive – might be somehow more than human and waiting for you in Galilee – is something fully rational to behold with fear and joy.
Second, the speed in this story – note the words “suddenly” and “quickly.” Note that the women “ran to tell his disciples.” In Biblical “women at the well” stories, one of the things that is a common element is a tendency for the women to run and to act quickly. When there is a bridegroom in the offing, one doesn’t dally. When more than a bridegroom – when the Savior Himself is waiting in Galilee – you share this news quickly! What might be waiting in Galilee? Joy. Fear. And perhaps because of the fear, Jesus appears to women, who took hold of his feet, and he himself said, “Don’t be afraid.”
Dear God, thank you for letting us, too,
grab hold of your feet, grounding us
In your mercy and love
And hope and joy.
Let us wisely keep our feet on the ground
Despite tremendous love and fear,
As we run to Galilee, run to the future
Run to hope and to love.
Rachel Ann Russell