advent lettering

O Come All Ye Faithful

The Women at the Tomb

Today's Reading

Matthew 28:1-10

Do you remember what Christmas morning was like when you were a child? For many of us, it was an evening of anxiety and anticipation followed by an early morning rise, rush to get down the stairs, and wide-eyed excitement at the sight of the tree.

Now, imagine the same level of anxiety and sleeplessness, but no anticipation. Imagine no rush to get down the stairs and no wide-eyed excitement. This is the feeling of the women who visited the tomb that early Sunday morning. They had no expectation and no hope. All they had was a sense of duty to get through the day. And then everything changed.

As to be expected, the Gospel writers each tell the story a bit differently. For Matthew, he focuses on two women, Mary Magdalene and the “other” Mary, who appears to be the wife of Clopas, Jesus’ uncle, which would make the “other” Mary Jesus’ aunt.

Both of these women had met Jesus along the way. For Aunt Mary, she had known Jesus since He was a little boy and had watched Him grow up. Along the way, she became a believer, and according to the early church historian Eusebius, her son, Simeon, Jesus’ cousin, became a leader in the Jerusalem church.

For Mary Magdalene, Jesus changed her life entirely. According to both Luke (Luke 8:2) and Mark (Mark 16:9), Jesus and Mary first met as she was suffering from demon possession. Jesus did what He always does, demonstrate power over all of creation, both seen and unseen, and cast out all seven that were within her. The Gospels do not tell us the story of this deliverance, but you can only imagine the relief and peace that accompanied that act. Mary could breathe again, and she gave her life to follow Jesus.

In the Matthew account, we see these two Marys the day of the burial of Jesus. They followed Joseph of Arimathea to the tomb, and sat there opposite of the grave as the stone was rolled into place. Can you hear the silence? The two sat still. Perhaps Aunt Mary, as aunts do, tried to begin to discuss plans for the Sunday morning.

“Mary, I’ll go ahead and bring some of the spices. If you have anything to bring, let me know, and we can meet here after the Sabbath at dawn.”

Mary Magdalene just nodded, her eyes swollen.

And so the two left. They participated in the normal Sabbath day ritual, although their hearts weren’t in it. After all, how can you celebrate a religion whose leaders just sentenced your Lord to death? And how can you make sense out of what He told you about the Father and the coming Kingdom when He lay cold and dead in a tomb? But they were faithful women, and they did what they had to do. “Just push on….one step in front of the other,” you can hear them say.

Before dawn even broke on Sunday, the two woke up, got ready, gathered their belongings, and made their way to the tomb as the silence of Friday continued that morning.

Without warning, an earthquake struck, and an angel appeared, saying those wonderful words that angels always say; “Do not be afraid!”

Note the almost humorous moment in this scene. The armed men, trained soldiers of the highest level, stood like “dead men” so scared they couldn’t budge. But not the women. They were certainly frightened, but women are tough. Aunt Mary had seen all sorts of things in her life, and Mary Magdalene dealt with seven demons. They didn’t cower in fear; they listened with hope.

After hearing the angels instructions, they ran to tell the disciples, and suddenly Jesus appeared. “Greetings,” He said.

The Marys had spent so much time with Him over and over again, but this time was different. He looked different. There He stood only with simple scars on his hands and feet, but no other indications of the crucifixion. He didn’t just get up and walk out of the tomb, still battered and bruised. No, He was resurrected!

And how do they react? As they should…they worshiped Him.

We want to reflect on this moment in the Gospel, not to think about the crucifixion, although that is certainly a wonderful moment, but rather think about the wonder and the excitement when these women became the first to see Jesus in His resurrected state. They saw Jesus as He is even to this day. What an amazing thought!

While they were silent heading to the tomb, they couldn’t stop shouting and celebrating on the way back. Think of the best Christmas days ever, and multiply that by infinity, and you have something of an inkling of their excitement. If the song had been written then, they would have been shouting it to the disciples, “O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”

We are now just a few days away from Christmas. Do you share any level of their excitement? Do you understand that we worship the same risen Lord whom they saw? Has His resurrection reset your life?

As you prepare for December 25, ask the Lord to restore unto you the joy of your salvation this Christmas season. Ask Him to help you understand the wonder of that moment and how that moment can be relieved over and over again every day in our lives.

After all, we serve a risen Savior. Let’s run alongside the Marys proclaiming to everyone we see that He is here!

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