Encounter with the Risen Savior

Matthew 28:1 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

Yesterday my pastor made an observation about the resurrection story that I had never considered before. He was preaching from Matthew 28:1-10, and he was speaking about the two Marys that came to the tomb to complete the process of preparing the body of Jesus for burial.

They had come to the tomb not expecting a miracle. They came to complete a labor of love that they had begun before the sun set on Friday. Love drove them to the tomb, not faith. At first, I thought this was a ridiculous idea. Who could love Jesus without having faith concerning who He is? After all, He told them He would not only die, but that He would rise again! But then I thought about all of the times that I do not trust Jesus. I don’t believe that the power that had victory over death has victory over the sins I allow to plague me. I don’t believe that He can transform lives, change marriages, teach and comfort those who are searching for Him. I come to the tomb every Sunday morning in the form of a worship service, proclaim my love for Jesus and walk away, unchanged. Which is exactly what Mary Magdalene and the other Mary intended to do that morning.

But they did not walk away unchanged, because instead of performing their duty and going back to their lives, they encountered an angel with a message!

2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 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.

How many of us come to church on Sundays, perform our required duties and then leave again, going back to our lives in which there is no evidence of an encounter with a message from the risen Savior? Do we ever stop and contemplate that through the resurrection, the Kingdom of God broke into our lives, into time here on earth and upended our existence for eternity? How many Sundays does my life reflect an encounter with a dead body instead of a risen Lord? How many times do I miss the opportunity He has for my life to be revolutionized by time with Him?

But these ladies did not miss the opportunity. They didn’t doubt the message. They didn’t question the messenger. They didn’t go to the Temple to consult the priests about the message. They didn’t wonder if the angel told the wrong people. They didn’t consider the distance of the trip. They didn’t worry about the fact that the men to whom they were supposed to take this message may ridicule them. They were only grief stricken, emotional women, after all. They did none of those things. They simply obeyed, and that single step of faith put them on a path that would alter the entire world.

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.

One more observation from this precious encounter with the Savior. When they saw Jesus, when they had time to worship Him, they did just that. They had a message to deliver, a job to do, but when it was time to worship, they stopped, and they gloried in their Savior. Don’t allow the work to be done get in the way of the time you set aside to simply sit at the feet of the Savior and worship Him. The work will be there when He is finished with you, and you may just find that, after your time with Him, the work seems just a little less laborious.

So what about you? Will you walk away from yesterday and go back to your everyday life? Or will you recognize that you’ve had an encounter with the living Savior who has given you a mission? Jesus has given His followers work to do: “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell…’” How does your life show that a risen Savior has given you a job to do? Do you spend enough time with Him to even know what that job is?

I pray that during the time from this Easter to the next that I will begin each day remembering that I have had an encounter with the risen Savior and that because of it, my life will never be the same again.

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