April 16, 2007
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell His disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” He said. They came to Him, clasped His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see Me.” Matthew 28.5-10
The first words of the angels in the tomb were, “Do not be afraid.” The first words of the resurrected Jesus Christ were, “Do not be afraid.” Human beings are fearful creatures: we are afraid of the future, afraid of the past; afraid of failure, afraid of success; afraid of not being loved, afraid to love; afraid to die and afraid to live.* Fear is the most common experience of human life. If our lives were lived on a stage, the backdrop of every scene would include foreboding clouds of fear. The most often-repeated refrain in the whole of Scriptures is do not be afraid, fear not, do not fear, have no fear, and the like.
The Scriptures tell us it was just before dawn when the women headed to the tomb to anoint the Body of Jesus. The dark moments before dawn, when the stars have faded and the moon has slipped below the horizon, echoed the hearts and minds of the women as they made their way to the tomb where Jesus lay. Every hope, every dream, every expectation for the future was shattered and replaced by relentless despair and grief at the loss of this Man and the horror, injustice and indignity of His death. Then they felt the tremor of the earth beneath them. Don’t you know they began to run when the ground shook? The scene they found was chaotic. Guards lay in a dead faint around the tomb, the large stone was rolled away, and a yawning, dark hole greeted them – on top of which was perched an angel. Could there be any emotion other than fear?
Do not be afraid. In the darkest, most hopeless moments of life, the message from our Father is: do not be afraid. When every possibility becomes impossible and chaos breaks out, when plans and dreams suddenly come to nothing and despair floods your heart and mind, do not be afraid. Our God is greater than all of these.
If there is one thing we Christians need to learn, it is this: our experiences and our emotions are not the measure of the work of God. What we see and what we feel do not begin to define the activity of God. In the worst and most miserable moment of the women’s lives, our Father was destroying death and raising Jesus in the fullness of God’s divine life, altering the course human history. But the women knew only despair, hopelessness and fear. So many times we allow single events to measure of the love and power of God, and we are so wrong in that. Do not be afraid. Give God time to work in your circumstances. He is not limited to what you can see and feel.
When Jesus met the women on the road, He appeared to them as the divine Son of God, the Resurrected and triumphant Messiah, the King of all kings, and Savior of the world. Even if the women did not grasp the full implication of Jesus’ Resurrection – indeed, no one did initially – they knew to fall at His feet rather than run to hug Him. And His words to them? “Do not be afraid.” They were as afraid of His glory as they were of the despair just moments before. The power, the promise and the majesty of the Resurrected Jesus were too much for a mere mortal, and the women, face down to the ground, knew only to worship.
Fear. Every human life is lived against a background of fear, immobilizing us for a lifetime of unremarkable, powerless mediocrity. Fear convinces us the mundane is preferable to wondrous heights, so long as we avoid the deepest valleys. The first practical implication of Easter is this: do not be afraid. Do not be afraid to try. Do not be afraid to risk. Do not be afraid to fail. Do not be afraid to give. Do not be afraid to laugh. Do not be afraid to feel. Do not be afraid to cry. Do not be afraid to share. Do not be afraid to lose. Do not be afraid to begin. Do not be afraid to end. Do not be afraid to love. Do not be afraid to die. Do not be afraid to live!
The Resurrection is the victory of life – God’s life, to be sure – but He has given it to us. For Christ’s sake, live! Live with arms wide open, embracing life and tasting everything you can reach at the banquet before you. God overcame the greatest evil and deepest human sin, and the greatest success belongs to Him alone. Christ’s Resurrection envelops the whole of our lives and our experiences, so get up and live; live fully and freely in Him because whatever happens next, God will prevail.
Do you want Easter to be real in your life? Then trust your Father. Do not be bound by your fears; your Christ reigns even now. Do not be afraid… live! Dare to be fully alive!
In Christ –
© 2007 Servants’ Feast Ministry
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* From “I’m Saved, So What?”