Jesus Is Alive
(Mark 16.1-8; Luke 24.1-12; John 20.1-10)
1The Sabbath was over, and it was almost daybreak on Sunday when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2Suddenly a strong earthquake struck, and the Lord's angel came down from heaven. He rolled away the stone and sat on it. 3The angel looked as bright as lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards shook from fear and fell down, as though they were dead.
5The angel said to the women, “Don't be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was nailed to a cross. 6He isn't here! God has raised him to life, just as Jesus said he would. Come, see the place where his body was lying. 7Now hurry! Tell his disciples he has been raised to life and is on his way to Galilee. Go there, and you will see him. This is what I came to tell you.”
8The women were frightened and yet very happy, as they hurried from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples.
J. R. R. Tolkien coined the word “eucatastrophe” to describe the reversal that takes place when a tremendous victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat. A eucatastrophe occurs when darkness, despair, and defeat gives way to light, hope, and glory. The greatest eucatastrophe of all, according to Tolkien, was the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
When the women came to the tomb they were in shock. They came in mourning and agony, hoping to anoint the corpse of the one in whom they had put all of their hopes. They had witnessed Jesus, the Messiah of God, dying on a cross, which according to the Old Testament Law meant he was dying under the curse of God. Their hopes were dashed. Everything lay in ruins. The darkness that covered the land during Jesus’ death had settled in their hearts. They went to the tomb because the story of Jesus was finished, and they were going to grieve and say goodbye.
But the tomb was empty. The impossible was not only possible, it was actual. The women’s response was three-fold. First, they were afraid! This is the fear of standing before the great, wild unknown: this is the fear of being the first eyewitnesses to the single greatest thing that God had ever done. They had no categories in which to sort out this new reality: Jesus was crucified but lived again! Second, we are told that they were also filled with joy. So much emotion is packed into this three-letter word. Likely their hearts were threatening to leap out of their chests. It was panicked elation. Third, when they met Jesus, they fell at his feet and worshiped. Reverential fear, holy joy, and worshiping at the feet of Jesus – that was their response to the resurrection. What’s ours?
God our Father, who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, we praise and honor you for what you have done in the resurrection. This truth is too big for us to contain and too wonderful for us to comprehend. It makes us tremble, rejoice, and worship. Thank you, in Jesus’ name.