With great fear and excitement, they hurried away from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. But Jesus met them and greeted them. They came and grabbed his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers that I am going into Galilee. They will see me there.”
Now as the women were on their way, some of the guards came into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. They met with the elders and decided to give a large sum of money to the soldiers. They told them, “Say that Jesus’ disciples came at night and stole his body while you were sleeping. And if the governor hears about this, we will take care of it with him so you will have nothing to worry about.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were told. And this report has spread throughout all Judea to this very day.
Matthew 28:8-15 (CEB)
The resurrection changes everything. The fear and sadness that gripped the disciples on Good Friday and Holy Saturday is rolled away like the stone in front of the tomb. Fear and sadness are now replaced by worship and excitement among the faithful disciples. When Jesus appears to them he famously says “Don’t be afraid”. Now, I am sure Jesus said this to smooth over the fear that would probably arise from seeing a once dead man walk into the room. However, I also think this is a statement of how things should be from this point forward. Jesus is also announcing that fear should no longer reside in the hearts of his disciples.
There were lots of reasons to be afraid after Jesus was crucified. Fear of the Roman authorities. Fear of the Jewish leaders. Fear of going back to a life that was left to follow Jesus. However, with the resurrected Jesus standing before them, there was no more reason to fear. The Romans thought they had the power to execute Jesus as a trouble-maker and potential revolutionary. The Jewish authorities thought they had the power to silence Jesus because they saw his statements as blasphemous and challenging to their religious way of life. These “powers” seemed to have triumphed on Friday and Saturday. However, when Easter Sunday arrived, the “powers” were exposed for what they really were.
Empty, selfish and impotent.
Jesus death on the cross shined a revealing light on the powers of the world. The actions and instruments they used for fear and to maintain their power were instead turned into a demonstration of love, mercy and true Godly power. The cross was meant to humiliate and shame. Yet, through the cross Jesus is glorified and worshiped in resurrection. Death was mean to silence and end the work of Jesus. Yet, in death Jesus lives and his work continues through his followers by the power of the Holy Spirit. Through the cross and death Jesus demonstrates that true, Godly power is exercised not through retribution, bribery, silencing of voices or humiliation but through sacrifice, forgiveness and giving a voice to the silenced. Even after his resurrection, the Jewish authorities are still trying to “silence” the message of the disciples by paying off the guards. The subtext here is not so subtle. If you are reading this Gospel, their money was not well spent. They have no real power.
No one was silenced, the message got out.
Jesus is alive; don’t be afraid.
Lent is over.
The wait is over.
Our expectations have become a reality.
Jesus has risen.
The New Creation has begun.
Now that we are reborn, as I have said, in the likeness of our Lord, and have indeed been adopted by God as his children, let us put on the complete image of our Creator so as to be wholly like him, not in the glory that he alone possesses, but in innocence, simplicity, gentleness, patience, humility, mercy, harmony, those qualities in which he chose to become, and to be, one with us.
St. Peter Chrysologus