Image the scene, if you will, after the Resurrection. The disciples had fled, the women stayed until the very end, and Joseph of Arimathea had buried Jesus in his tomb. It seemed as if all hope had been lost. Here–we have Jesus’ disciples scattered and probably distraught–and they must have wondered what was going to happen. Their leader had been arrested, charged, and crucified for crimes that He didn’t commit. Now, they are left like sheep without a shepherd. Many of them must have wondered, where do we go from here?
All of a sudden, on the early Easter morning, the women travel to the tomb to finish the burial rites. They were there to make the final preparations to His body, and they where there to mourn His death as well. But, when they arrived, the stone had been rolled away and the body was not there. In fact, there were two angels who met the women on the way and said to them, “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” (Matthew 28:5-6).
What a moment that must have been. For the women to arrive at the place where Jesus had been laid, but the body was gone. Jesus then appeared to them and repeated the words of the angels, “do not be afraid.” Jesus reminded the women, and He reminds us, that He is NOT dead, but is risen. We have a Living God, a God that is not dead, but a God that is very much alive and present with us. His words to the women are His words to each of us today, “do not be afraid!” We are given the assurance that Christ is with us, and we are not alone. In the coming weeks, we will read the stories of how Jesus revealed Himself to the disciples, and later to many witnesses, and we will continue to be reassured of a Resurrected Savior. The leader whom the disciples had watched die, was now alive and with them. The Jesus whom we have read and know about is alive and among us, so “do not be afraid!”
God of mercy, we no longer look for Jesus among the dead, for he is alive and has become the Lord of life. Increase in our minds and hearts the risen life we share with Christ, and help us to grow as your people toward the fullness of eternal life with you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 32)