Day 42 - Expect the Unexpected

Day 42 - Expect the Unexpected

Written by: Katelyn Boyd

Matthew 28:5-10, ESV
5 “But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he  lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.’ 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.’ “

Happy Easter!! Our Lord has risen from the grave and is alive and reigning at the right hand of the Father this morning! Hallelujah!! As we prepare to celebrate the Resurrection today, we are filled with jubilant excitement and joyful expectation–we expect to express our gratitude to God for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and triumph over death, we expect to adore Him in worship, we expect to spend time celebrating with family and friends. We enter this day with expectation based upon what we know to be true about the life, death and resurrection and what we joyfully await to see fulfilled when Jesus returns to take us home. However, the followers of Jesus did not enter the first Easter Sunday with hopeful expectation–they entered it with deep anguish, confusion and crushing fear. But, the resurrection changes everything, and we see the angel delivering unexpected news to the women who approached the tomb; he offers encouragement, an announcement, a command and a promise that revolutionizes the reality they woke up in that Sunday morning and changes the course of human history!!

The women who visited Jesus’ tomb on Sunday morning did not go because they were expecting an angelic messenger. Though Jesus told His disciples multiple times (at least 3 recorded in Matthew’s Gospel (16:21-28, 17:22-23, 20:17-19) about God’s plan for him to rise from the grave, they did not come to check to see if Jesus had done what he said. They went to mourn and to continue the anointing and preservation of Jesus’ body that was more than likely cut short by the Sabbath the day before. They didn’t come to see an angel; they came to see a corpse.  We know that their immediate response to the angel’s appearance was fear, because his first words to them are the encouragement: “Do not be afraid…” (v. 5). Fear seems to be a common human response in this resurrection story. “Fear” or “being afraid” is referenced 4 times in the first 10 verses of Matthew 28; the initial cause of fear being the earth-shaking appearance of the angel in verse 2. The angel, looking much like lightning in human form, descended from heaven, rolled away the stone and sat on it; this warrior of light was so fierce that the men guarding the tomb, hardened Roman legionnaires, trained in the art of torture, “shook and became like dead men.” And the women, not expecting an angel, quake in fear at the sight of him.

After he delivers the unexpected encouragement telling them not to be afraid, he continues with an unexpected announcement:  “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.” (v. 6). The angel reminds the women that the very thing that has happened should have been expected, because Jesus had told them it would be so! Jesus’ triumph over the grave confirmed everything He said and did throughout His life and ministry and accomplished the reconciliation of man to God once for all, by the only means possible! The women didn’t expect an empty tomb, but the angel rolled the stone away, announced His resurrection and invited the women inside to see where his lifeless body had once lain! Can you imagine?! Going to the tomb to sit heartbroken with the body of their beloved Master, and then bid by an angel to see that He had really done it; He had risen and rescued the whole world!

The women, first paralyzed with fear at the angel’s presence and then standing in awe at the empty tomb, were then given an unexpected message and mission: he commanded them to “Go quickly and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead…” What a beautifully unexpected mission, given to the most unexpected of people–not only were these lowly women the first to witness the resurrection, but they were the first to proclaim the news of the resurrection to others!! The mission they set out on that morning, to embalm a body, was replaced with a much greater one–to spread the news that Jesus was ALIVE! And, the last thing the angel told them before they departed from the tomb was the most glorious, unexpected promise: “..You will see him.” (v. 7). He told them that they would encounter the resurrected Lord! Jesus wasn’t simply raised from the dead; He was raised and would continue His relationship with them. The women came to the tomb expecting to mourn their beloved Messiah and to see Jesus as they last saw him–bruised and bloody, lifeless and cold; but, instead, when they met him, his voice greeted them, and they grasped at the feet of his newly resurrected body as they fell down to worship Him (v. 9-10)!

The women left the tomb different than they came to it–they approached it with sorrow and fear and left with fear and with joy. I love the detail that is included in verse 8: fear is still present in the minds and hearts of the women, even after seeing the angel and the empty tomb. They knew when they got there that morning that they would leave the tomb with fear–because their Savior was dead, because their future seemed uncertain, because they didn’t know if the Romans might come after them next. But, when they left the tomb that morning, even though they still left with fear, it was not the only thing, or the greatest thing, they left with. They left with unexpected encouragement, an unexpected announcement, an unexpected message and mission, and the fulfillment of an unexpected promise–an encounter with their resurrected Savior! And they left with one more thing that was unexpected: great joy!

The Sunday morning the women spent at the tomb was full of beautiful unexpected blessings. Let’s celebrate the resurrection today with expectations that reflect the power and sovereignty of our great God! The surprise of the women at the tomb showed us that they didn’t truly expect Jesus to rise from the grave. Let’s be a people that know that God is faithful and trustworthy and live like it! Expect Him to do what He says He will do!! Every follower of Jesus receives the same mission and message that the women at the tomb did–Go and tell others that Jesus is alive! Expect Him to equip and use you to spread the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus with any and everyone whose lives He allows you to intersect! Send a text or make a phone call this morning to share your joy about the resurrection and to invite someone to come with you to celebrate it at church! Expect a personal encounter with the resurrected Jesus today! Prepare your heart and your mind for worship this morning: spend time reading back over Matthew chapter 28 and/or John chapter 20 and spend time thanking Jesus for what He’s already done for you and asking Him to allow you to encounter Him in a new way.

Jesus, I praise you because you are the Lamb who was slain and the Victor who has conquered the grave! Thank you for your sacrifice on the cross and for breaking the hold of death over me through your resurrection! Jesus, I am expecting to see you move today in powerful ways; would you bring people from death to life today in churches all over the world?! Would you break chains and move mountains to bring people to know you? Give me renewed passion and boldness to join your mission of bringing the message of the Gospel to the world? Jesus, I want to encounter you today; show me your glory. I love you. Amen.