When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.
Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.
As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'”
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” (Mark 16:1-8 NIV)
I don’t know about you, but if I was the one standing in that tomb to find Jesus had risen, I would have been freaking out. I would have ran away, trembling, too.
Do not be alarmed, in other words, do not be afraid. In the Bible, “Do not be afraid”, and other variations of the phrase (don’t be alarmed, fear not, do not fear) appear a lot. One popular myth is that the phrase appears 365 times, but it is actually closer to 150ish times.
The fact is, the words “do not be afraid” appear in the Bible so often because it’s important.
Fortunately for us, the disciples pushed through their initial reaction of fear. They went on to spread the Word, despite the fear of persecution; and they had very good reason to fear persecution.
Today is Easter Sunday. Let’s take in the heaviness of that day. The day the women went to the tomb to find Jesus risen. There was fear, at first, then there was hope, and probably tears of joy , too.
Even in death, Jesus is teaching us a lesson. Push through the fear because on the other side there is hope. There is also faith, comfort, and courage.
The Lord our God is with us. Do not be afraid.
*Originally posted April 5, 2015