Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. (Mark 16:8)
They had lived with three days of trauma. They had traveled with friends and family for a celebration. The Passover was a religious holiday celebrated with as much emotion as our Christmas. They had been looking forward to it.
They never expected this. They never expected to hear that Jesus of Nazareth was arrested. Never expected that he would be tortured. And absolutely never expected to watch him die. But it all happened. It was as if they were now shell-shocked.
They may not have been able to sleep that Friday night. Saturday was supposed to be a day of rest—it was the Sabbath. Doubtful that this Saturday brought rest! Jesus was dead. They had watched the men place him into the tomb. They had tried to give him a proper burial by adding spices to the burial shroud. But they ran out of time.
Now, as they entered the tomb early on Sunday morning, they were shocked again. The body was missing! How many hits could their emotions take? Bad was being followed by worse—and still worse.
We are tempted to smile at these women. Didn’t they know this is Easter morning? Didn’t they realize that Jesus has conquered death? Didn’t they hear the voice of the angel, “He is not here. He is risen!” Why weren’t they celebrating?
They didn’t because they couldn’t. Their minds could not process the new information. They could not see the wonderful because they were still focused on the dreadful. They needed time. They needed reassurance. They needed God to make it plain to them.
We understand. We, too, have sometimes been so struck by the dreadful or the fearful that we failed to see the wonderful. We easily forget what God has already told us. We blot out what he continues to tell us. We permit fear to replace faith. Yet, as with these women, so with us, God has been merciful and patient. He has continued to gently remind us that his love never fails and his plans are always good. Even though at times we cannot get our mind to wrap around what is happening in our life, his arms are always wrapped around us. The reality still stands. The tomb was empty. He did rise from the dead.
Let fear flee as fast as the women fled. Let faith stay as steady as that angel at his post.
We pray: Lord Jesus, it was a shock for your loved ones to learn of your arrest, and a greater shock for some of them to watch you die. We can understand the reaction of these women who first walked into your burial place on Easter morning. But we pray that we don’t join them in that reaction when you do things in our lives for which we are not prepared. Let us see through the eyes of faith. Let us understand with the guidance of your Word. Let us live in the joy of your resurrection. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida. Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military