Easter, Transformation, and Fear

Last week in Bible study we read Matthew’s account of the resurrection of Jesus (Mat 28:1-10), and I was struck by how much this passage has to do with fear:

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Now, normally we don’t think about fear when we think about Easter (unless, like me, you’re terrified of Peeps).

But doesn’t transformation, rebirth, and renewal always come with fear? Don’t we always resist change and fear it?

The  Easter story reminds us that change is possible. That hope emerges from hopelessness. That death triumphs over life. But, for us to experience this joy, we must be willing to let our joy overcome our fear.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary let their joy and their hope triumph over their fear, while the guards new only fear. Without joy to overcome their fear, they were bought off by the religious elite to suppress the resurrection account.

We too can know the joy and the hope that comes from rebirth and renewal. It will not prevent fear, but it does have the power to overcome our fear, if we are willing.

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