At dawn … I love that this revelation happens at the start of a new day. Night and darkness is over, what has gone before is done and now it is a fresh beginning. Just like the very first moment in time when GOD said, ‘Let there be light!’ … this moment will forever be full of light, just as He said.
Jesus had endured several hours on the cross (Matthew 27:45 -50), had died and his death confirmed. His side was pierced and the liquid flowing out had separated showing that he had been dead for some time (John 19:33-35). His body had been wrapped in graveclothes and coated with aromatic spices before he had been laid in the grave cut out of rock (Matthew 27:57-60). Mary Magdalene and the other Mary saw where his body had been laid (Matthew 27:61). A huge stone had been rolled over the entrance to the grave (Matthew 27:60). A roman guard – that is several big, strong and trained Roman soldiers, were ordered to stop anything from happening to the body (Matthew 27:65-66). They set a seal over the stone which, if broken, would lead to the death of the culprit (Matthew 27:66).
But he had said that this was not to be the end!
I love to read the details here. There was no way that Jesus was alive, there was no possibility of him getting out of the tomb even if his death had somehow been mistaken and he had in fact fainted. There was no way that the body could have been stolen from the tomb. The women were not confused about what grave Jesus had been laid in because they had witnessed it. Even if they hadn’t witnessed it there would have been several Roman soldiers guarding it.
The two Marys came to the grave on the third day, the day that Jesus had said something would happen. But when they came back, at dawn, on this new day, the two Marys found something quite different. I love that after the earthquake, graves opening, despair and grief there is this casual Angel. He freaks out the tough Roman guards so much so that they collapse to the ground in fear (Matthew 28:4), rolls back the massive stone and just sits there looking like lightning … like you do! He tells the women, however, not to fear … why? Because they are to hear the good news that applies specifically and intimately to them.
I’m not sure if the angel said his words with joy, rebuke or just humour, but he says, ‘He is not here: He is risen, just as He said.’
AND THEN … in the garden where death had reigned, Jesus suddenly appears! This is the third instance of the history of humanity being changed in a garden (A Tale of Two Gardens). The angel hadn’t made it up, the empty grave was not a mistake, but here he was, the risen man. Just as He said. This garden where the ends of so many lives had been marked was now seeing the dawn of a new thing. The Son of GOD had done it all. He had defeated sin and death and is now risen; nothing could hold him back. The once gripping authority of death being inevitable and final was completely overturned.
When the disciples see Jesus, he tells them that all authority has been given to him and that they are to go out – having been given that same authority – and make disciples of all nations. I was thinking about the authority which Jesus had been given that was now being passed to us as his followers. We have been given that same authority! What authority? ALL authority that is on earth and in heaven belongs to him! Satan had boasted, when he tested Jesus, that the authority and splendour of all the kingdoms of the world belonged to him (Luke 4:5-8). Satan offered them to Jesus if Jesus would worship him. Jesus didn’t bow down, and this authority, that was once in Satan’s hands is now firmly held by the victorious Jesus. Satan is defeated. Jesus’ commission to go and make disciples of all nations carries the full weight of Jesus’ authority. He is the one who has the authority and splendour of all the kingdoms of the world. I am part of that great mission, co-working with the Holy Spirit to tell everyone of my remarkable saviour. This looks different for each of us. For some it involves moving to another nation and starting churches, for others it is striking up conversation with our neighbour and showing kindness. Whatever your part of the commission is, whether you consider it big or small, do it with passion and obedience. Remember it is a Co Mission – a mission not taken alone but with GOD. There is no authority that can hold back that mission! It is time to believe things just as He said.
What then shall we say in response to all these things? If GOD is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31
And as a final thought … Jesus said he would rise from the dead and he did. The angel reminded the women it was ‘Just as He said.’ Jesus also said he will return … All His words can be trusted and He does just as He said.
Jesus said to the women who had gone to see what would happen on the third day, ‘Do not be afraid.’ Perhaps it is time to take heed of this and know that we don’t need to be afraid because have all authority. It is time to ‘Go!’ and ‘don’t be afraid’ just as he has said.