While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright, the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? Luke 24:4-5
In the excitement of Easter, we must not forget about Mary, the one who was engaged to Joseph and became the mother of Jesus. Words from an angel startled her with the message that she would have a son, “…and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:31-32).
She pondered those words.
She again heard of words from angels when she gave birth to that Son. Shepherds reported what they had heard from an angel over the fields of Bethlehem: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10,11).
We sing of Bethlehem on that night, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” Hopes and fears marked the life of the young woman who told the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant.”
She surely hoped that her son would be great. But fear invaded her life when Herod gave orders to hunt her son down and kill him. Fear again arose when she heard that it was not safe to return to Bethlehem even after Herod died. Hope must have blossomed as she saw her son grow “…in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2: 52).
Hope must have filled her heart as she saw him ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Then, fear struck with the news that he had been arrested. Confusion and dread flooded in with the word that he would be executed.
She must have wondered, “How can this be?” “How can he die now?” But it happened. She saw him being crucified with her own eyes. She stood at the foot of the cross with the other women who had come from Galilee until Jesus told John to take care of her as if she was his own mother.
She walked away from the cross to face a dark night of sorrow. Women from Galilee stayed to the end. Then, from a distance, they watched as strangers took down the body and carried it into a tomb. The dawn of the Sabbath brought no relief. At the dawn of the next day, the third day, some of those women from Galilee returned to the tomb to finish anointing the body for burial. They were startled to have an angel tell them, “He is not here; he has risen!”
The words came to Mary as if the floodgates of joy had opened up. Fear was replaced by hope— by hope fulfilled.
“Tidings of joy” are what the Christmas angels announced.
“Tidings of joy” are what the Easter angels announced.
Along with Mary of old, those tidings fill us with joy yet today. We can call to one another, “The Lord has risen. He is risen indeed!!”
We pray: God of the living, who brought life to mankind by the resurrection of your Son from the dead, remind us that your promises are always true, and your love never fails. Let our hearts not be overcome by fear. Plant into us an everlasting hope. Let us taste again the Easter joy.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer
WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military.