We have come from the saddest day in history to the most joyous one. It is Sunday morning and an amazing thing has happened. Jesus is risen, just like He said!
Before we go any farther, I want to share something with you that I was given this week. Jesus didn’t need to walk out the door of His tomb. The stone wasn’t rolled away to let Jesus out but to let His disciples in. After His resurrection, Jesus was able to move from place to place, free of the confines of our physical world. In Luke 24, Jesus appears to His disciples in the house where they were hiding without coming through the door or any other opening. He all of a sudden was simply standing in their midst and addressing them. Jesus simply appeared in the room. Like Philip did after speaking with the eunuch on the side of the road. Instant from place to place.
When Jesus appeared, more than one of His disciples thought He was a ghost. He had to prove to them He was flesh and bone by letting them touch Him and getting Him something to eat.
God had the stone removed so Jesus’ disciples could go in and find the empty tomb. They needed to be able to pass this definite proof onto the new church and its subsequent generations. We needed to see that it wasn’t an imposter pretending to be Jesus, or some clever mind trick.
Because Jesus didn’t need the stone moved to come out of the grave, I don’t know if the stone being rolled away, the earthquake and the angel’s appearance happened at the same time Jesus left the grave or not. The outward events had to happen prior to the women coming to the tomb. They had to have unrestricted access to the place where Jesus was laid to rest. The women who came that Sunday morning were the same ones who stood watch while Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus placed Jesus into the tomb. They knew the location. They knew He was in there. They saw all this firsthand. Now they would see firsthand that the grave was empty!
The women didn’t expect to find anyone at the tomb. They didn’t know that Caiaphas had convinced Pilate to let him place a guard on Jesus’ tomb. That happened the next day; during Passover. In Mark’s account, in chapter 16, the women talk amongst themselves wondering who will help them roll the stone away. They saw what it took to get it in place to begin with. They know they are not strong enough to move it back. I find it interesting that they didn’t think of this before they left the house. They could have brought a couple of Jesus’ disciples along if they had thought of it before hand.
I’m wondering if the women and the soldiers crossed paths going and coming. The earthquake and the appearance of the angel had to come early enough for the soldiers to pick themselves up off the ground, after their bout with terror, and flee the area before the women arrived. When the women arrived there was no one but the angel there. Was the angel still sitting on the stone when the women arrived? Matthew’s account doesn’t tell us how much time passed between the soldiers’ viewing the angel, grabbing their gear and running, and the women’s approach to the tomb. So I imagine the angel could have been dangling his feet up there or moved inside the tomb. “Come, see the place where He lay” (verse 6).
After the angels calmed the women’s fears and showed them the evidence, they were instructed to go tell Jesus’ disciples the good news, and where to meet up with Jesus. The angel says that Jesus will meet them in Galilee. This is not the only place Jesus meets them though. He walks into the very room where they have been hiding. He meets them on the road to Emmaus. He meets them again in the house. He even meets with these women on the way to tell the disciples what they have seen.
So why did the angel mention Galilee specifically? Because this is where Jesus will give them their new “marching orders.” Here He will send them into the world to be His witnesses to everyone everywhere. This will be the second time Jesus sends His disciples out into the world.
Father God, thank You for sending the angel to roll the stone away. Jesus may not have used that door but the rest of us have. We have heard or seen the truth. The truth that Jesus is unlike ANY other “savior” or religious leader. That, unlike all the rest, Jesus lives AGAIN. NO other “deity” can claim that. Their tombs are still sealed. Their bodies still locked inside. THAT is why we needed to see inside. The proof to carry forth from that day on that Jesus is God’s Son and He IS ALIVE! Every promise He made WILL come true. If He can come back from such a horrible death, surely nothing is impossible for Him. All things are possible to him who believes.