The day Jesus died seemed to be the darkest day in the history of the world. It must have been especially dark for Jesus’ disciples. All of Jesus’ disciples were deeply saddened when Jesus died. They didn’t know all we know about Jesus’ death and what it meant for them. They thought Jesus was going to save the world and rule immediately as an earthly King. They never thought he would take his kingdom by dying.
Jesus’ death on the cross was a crushing blow to the disciples’ hopes and dreams. Their leader, friend, savior, and God was dead. They saw him arrested. They saw him mocked. They saw him beaten. They saw him crucified. They saw his body taken off a cross. They saw him placed in a tomb. As far as they knew, it was all over.
As upset and scared the disciples must have been at the death of Jesus, what they were about to experience cannot be described with words. We have already seen three women approach Jesus’ tomb to anoint his body. Can you see the sadness on their faces? Hearts broken. Eyes filled with tears. But as they approach the place where they laid Jesus to rest, they discover something that will change their lives forever.
Mark tells us that as the women approached the tomb, they noticed that the stone had already been rolled back from the tomb, which was cut out of a rock ledge (Mark 16:4). We learn from other Gospel writers like Matthew and Luke, that there were Roman guards who were assigned to guard the tomb because they were afraid Jesus’ disciples might try to steal his body. But, even with all of that, the stone is rolled back from the tomb, and when the ladies slowly and timidly enter the tomb, they discover that there is someone there, just not the one they expected to see.
“And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed” (Mark 16:5). Can you imagine what these women must have thought? First, where is Jesus? Second, who is this strange dude?! This angel saw their shock and said, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him” (Mark 16:6).
The angel is there as an initial witness to the resurrection of Jesus. He also gives an explanation for why the body is not there. Could it be that the disciples had stolen the body? Nope. “He has risen.” He was truly dead. But now, he is truly alive!
While the women initially approached the empty tomb with fear, they left with total fascination. They were glad to obey the angel’s command to “tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.” Oh, and can you imagine the joy they experienced when they heard the angel say, “There you will see him, just as he told you” (Mark 16:7). The women and even the disciples didn’t have it all figured out, but they were totally amazed (Mark 16:8).
When Jesus walked out of the tomb, he proved himself to be the eternal Son of God who had power over sin and death. These women teach us a lot about how to approach the reality of the resurrection. The risen Christ should cause you to be amazed. God has freed you from your sin. He has conquered death. If you can trust Jesus to defeat sin and death by rising from the grave, how much more can you trust him with everything else in your life? Approach the risen Jesus with amazement and complete trust.
Mathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.