They bought spices that they might go to anoint Him. Shows you how much faith they had in Jesus’ words! The women in their love of their Lord fare better than the apostles, but when they came face to face with the dead body of their Master, their faith failed too. So that Easter morning, they were off to do a work they certainly didn’t need to do; they were out a great deal of money on a useless expense; and they were worried. The stone before the tomb was very large. How to move it?
“And looking up they saw that the stone had been rolled back.” Ah, beloved! Looking up takes care of so many of the worries. Looking up they might even have begun to remember some of Jesus’ own words and realize the futility of their morning venture. You try it too: Look up today! Forget the worries that eat at your heart and frazzle your nerves. Forget the anxieties that steal away your peace. God’s up to something today that literally wipes out all the worries and the but, but, but protests you might raise. Look up!
And entering the tomb they saw a young man, sitting at the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.
Whoever he was, he wasn’t what they expected. Nothing this morning was turning out the way they expected. And the unexpected was only going to grow:
“Do not be alarmed. I know who you’re looking for. Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified; nailed to the tree; taken down dead and carried right here! Well, ladies, you are lookin in the wrong place. He has risen. He is not here. See, this is the place where they laid Him. But risen now. Living again. You really didn’t think that death could hold Him down, did you? I mean, you knew Him! You saw what His Word could do. Well, now. Off you go. Go tell His disciples - oh, and Peter - that He is going ahead of you all to Galilee. You’ll see Him there, just as He told you.”
“Just as He told you.” Oh, people loved by God! How many of the anxieties and worries of our lives would evaporate if we always simply looked up and remembered what our Lord told us?
Thinking back on Jesus’ words to them, we get a clue. He didn’t tell them that life would bring them no sorrow. In fact, He told them the exact opposite. We’re headed up to Jerusalem. It will be bad. It will be ugly. They’ll kill me. You will run away. BUT on the third day I will be raised. “Just as He told you” the angel said, and so it was happening. His Word always holds. His promise comes true no matter what. So give up arguing with Him and simply believe and rejoice in what He tells you. You’ll find that every word of the Lord proves true. The ladies did.
But, of course, wrapping your mind around the resurrection is no easy task. Death is the certain thing we’re used to in this world. We’re used to carrying each other to the grave. We’re used to saying “goodbyes” that are forever in this age. And now along comes word of one who really did die, whose corpse was laid in the tomb, and yet who lives. Lives forever. And still keeps His word: “I’ll meet you in Galilee.”
The ladies run out trembling, astonishment seizing them, and at first anyway, not saying a word to anyone, because they were afraid. And who would believe such a tale?
Oh, people loved by God, this tale is the bedrock, the very cornerstone of our faith. The dead Jew lived again. The man nailed to the tree proved to have a life stronger than death. He burst right of its stinking gullet, filled with life - and not just for Him, He didn’t need it, but for you and me too.
Hence, “I’ll meet you in Galilee.” That’s where He told them they’d find Him - for what good would it do to have word of resurrection, but no encounter with the Risen One? Why, that would put you right there with old Job in the Old Testament reading today. Knowing that resurrection was coming and that one day you’d see the Redeemer face to face, but that’s at the last. What about now?
If His Word then directed the ladies and the disciples toward Galilee, His Word today directs you to the Table. For make no mistake about it: there the Crucified One whose blood blots out your every sin; there the Risen One whose grip on you is stronger than death; there HE comes to YOU in His body and blood. There He meets you. It’s your Easter Galilee. There He pours into you more life than you’ll ever need; more forgiveness than all the world’s sin; more joy than all the sorrows of this age; more peace than all the fretting of your life.
He comes to you and says: I am Christ, YOUR Passover Lamb. I have been sacrificed for you! So let us keep feast together, you and I! Let us toss out the old leaven - the leaven of malice and evil, and enjoy the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth that I give you. Truth. The truth of MY words, my truth to you.
People loved by God, lift up your eyes today! Away from the worries and anxieties and the inability to wrap your mind around His ways. Lift up your eyes today. See not only an empty tomb, but a Table set for you in the presence of your enemies. See a cup of life overflowing. See your Lord reaching out His nailed scarred hand, now incorruptible, to welcome you to His Feast, to His Table, to His life.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!