The angel’s message at the tomb brings comfort, joy, and relief.
Daniel M. Solofra
I was once told that it is difficult to effectively counsel someone within 24 hours of a traumatic event. If you have ever made a visit to an emergency room you know how overwhelming the experience can be. Sometimes people go into shock. Others describe the ordeal as surreal. For this reason it is difficult to process information and to think clearly at that moment.
When dealing with individuals who experience tragic events, we especially try to be sensitive and understanding. Taking into account their fragile condition, we try to comfort and encourage as we help them process their life-changing events.
Death is coming
It is with this type of consideration of human weakness that I picture the angel engaging the women on Easter morning. The angel had a strong and powerful message, but it was delivered to a fragile and struggling audience.
The first Easter message is one of comfort. “Do not be afraid,” the angel said. These words speak volumes. The women did not need to be afraid. They did not need to be afraid of the angel and more than they did not need to be afraid of the absence of the body of Jesus. And, most important, they did not need to be afraid of death.
Because let’s face it, death is scary. Death always seems to take us by surprise. The death of Jesus took these women by surprise. They couldn’t believe it. For us it’s the same thing, whether it’s the sudden death of someone too young to die or the anticipated death of an elderly relative.
Have you experienced an encounter with death? A close call for you or someone close to you? Death reminds us that we and those we love are mortal. It reminds us of a sin problem that causes death. It captures our attention and whispers, “Are you ready to meet your God?”
We don’t need to fear death
God’s first words to the women at the tomb and to us as we face death go against every emotion we feel. He says, “Don’t be afraid!” The angel quickly adds, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay” (Matthew 28:6).
For the women at the tomb, it was obvious why this message would bring joy, happiness, and relief. Their friend was no longer dead. Jesus was alive. In a very short period of time, they would see him and talk to him.
But Jesus’ life means so much more to these women—and to us. The death Jesus died three days earlier was no ordinary death. Jesus’ death was preceded by a perfect life. He came into this world to live the perfect life that God demands of us and to die in our place as a payment for sin. Jesus’ resurrection was not only his victory, but ours as well.
For the women, Easter morning started with fear and hurt and heartache. But all of this changed with an invitation to view an empty tomb. “The women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples” (Matthew 28:8). I am sure the day seemed surreal. But the significance of the angel’s message, “He is not here, He is risen!” would continue to shape their hearts and lives.
Jesus’ resurrection does not mean that death won’t visit your door one day. But it does mean that when it does, with Jesus by your side, you will be ready to face it.
Daniel Solofra is pastor at CrossWalk Lutheran Ministries, Laveen, Arizona.
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Author: Daniel M. Solofra
Volume 105, Number 4
Issue: April 2018
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