Standing and Fainting at New Life

Resurrection of Our Lord Sunday

Jeremiah 31:1-6

Colossians 3:1-4

Matthew 28:1-10

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Two groups of people are standing keeping watch at the tomb of Jesus on that first Easter morning. Two very different groups of people. One group consists of the soldiers- the guards. They’ve been sent to keep watch over Jesus’ tomb to make sure that none of his disciples come to take away the body and give legitimacy to rumors that Jesus said he would rise from the dead after three days. The other group consists of two lone women, Mary and Mary. They keep watch to see what happens next. They heard what Jesus had said about rising after three days and perhaps they believed him. But they wait to see what this “rising” will look like and how the world will change when he rises again.

The two groups are very, very different. The soldiers are a big group of burly, battle-hardened men. They know the heroics of battle and have lived to tell the tale. They have been trained to kill. They stand fully armed from head to toe. They wear a helmet, carry a sword and a shield, and wear armor. They have the full backing of the nation they serve, the Roman empire- the strongest, most technologically advanced, and expansive empire in the world.

The other group, the women, however, stand alone and unarmed. Not one person from their group of fellow Jesus-followers accompanies them and the 11 supposedly closest disciples are cowering and hiding someplace out of sight.

In the early hours of that Sunday morning, suddenly the ground begins to rumble and shake. Stones begin to topple down the nearby hill. Looking up, the women and the soldiers see a terrifying sight. A human-like being descending from the sky. It hurts their eyes to stare at it too long as its body is shining bright. It appears like flashing lightning. As it draws closer the women and the soldiers hear the crackle of electricity in the atmosphere. The stone in front of Jesus’ tomb rolls away and the divine creature sits on top of it. The angel looks at the small crowd gathered and says “Do not be afraid! Jesus has been raised!”

At this terrifying and strange sight those big, burly soldier-men who are trained to kill, armed from head to toe, who serve the strongest, largest, and most technologically advanced empire in the world crumple and faint from fear. They drop like a sack of potatoes. Yet the unarmed, lone, women, Mary and Mary, stand tall and stand strong. I have been wondering, “Why?” What is it about Mary and Mary that gives them the strength and courage to stand strong in the midst of such a terrifying and strange sight that drops these battle-hardened soldiers as if they were dead men? Continue reading