So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
By Karen Newton
What a mixture of emotions this verse captures! Two Marys, both having two opposite emotions—fear and joy. Key moments in Jesus’ life are marked by angels telling people not to be afraid. When Gabriel visits Mary with the news that she has been chosen as Jesus’ mother, she is told not to fear (Lk 1:30). When Jesus is born and the angel announces the news to the shepherds, they are told not to be afraid (Lk 2:10). And now, after his resurrection, the women are told not to fear.
Yet, despite the assurance of the angel that there was no need to be afraid (v.5), the combination of events—an earthquake, the stone rolling away, an angel appearing (v.2-3), the disappearance of Jesus’ body (v.6a)—would have filled anyone with fear. In fact, the Roman soldiers fainted in terror (v.4)! So, as the women act on the angel’s instructions to go and tell the disciples that Jesus has risen, it is no surprise or shame that they are awestruck.
But their fear is balanced by a joy that filled them. Such joy is more than an emotion. It is more than feelings of pleasure or happiness derived from being in good circumstances. Instead, it is founded on God. It derives from and delights in his power, goodness and grace, and his love and favour—his unchanging character. This quality of joy can be constant in the lives of believers—a revitalising stream running through every circumstance, refreshing and renewing us as we place our trust in God.
Even during a terrifying and troubling time, the women were filled with this joy. Their Lord was not dead, he was risen! This is the power and triumph of Resurrection Sunday. As we remember the Son of God who died and rose again, let us be filled with the same mixture of awe and joy. Awe, that the God of holiness and goodness is powerful over death, conquering it in Jesus’ resurrection. Joy, that the God of grace, love, and favour draws us into an eternal relationship and life with him.
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
FOR LISTENING: “Joy of the Lord” by Rend Collective
I shall be changed—when that great Word,
His resurrection shout, is heard
In one glad moment I shall be
Transformed to immortality,
This covering of mortal clay
Like clothes put off, shall slip away,
And like a chrysalis breaking through
I shall be changed to live anew.
I shall be changed—the clinging sin
That haunts and mocks me deep within,
The anger and the pettiness,
The doubts, the fears, the selfishness,
And all the sorrows of the years,
The disappointments and the tears
Will be forgotten, finished, past,
I shall be changed—like Him at last.
I shall be changed—His righteousness
Shall be my spotless, changeless dress,
Yet who am I to know such bliss?
And Who but He could purpose this?
That ransomed soul of Adam's race,
So undeserving of His grace,
More glorious than the seraphim
Shall be so changed to be like Him.
From: The Reaper, VOL 56, No. 3, March 1976, p99