The Resurrection of Our Lord
April 12, 2020 - Matthew 28:1-10
“Do not be afraid.” Don’t you hate it when someone tells you that? Well, it depends. Are they sincere? Do they understand the fear and the reasons for it? Are they just trying to sweep fear under a rug? Are they patronizing you? Depending on who you are and who’s saying “Don’t be afraid,” your fear may be relieved. When a child fears monsters under the bed, it’s very comforting for the child to hear mom or dad say, “Don’t be afraid.”
People often fear what they can’t understand or control. The women get up early to finish Jesus’ burial and find the stone rolled away. They expect to see only a dead Jesus, but instead they encounter a terrifying angel, which only multiplies the angst they feel after the horrendous suffering and death of the one they loved so much. Then the angel tells them awesome news – Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
There’s so much fear right now as we all are dealing with things we can’t control – the virus. We’re told that people may be infected for several days before showing any symptoms and that it’s even possible to be infected and never know it. Experts say the virus spreads quickly, that it threatens people in certain criteria, and that we must act to save lives. Any sign of coughing, sneezing, sniffling, or other symptoms – allergies or not, common cold or not – cause a panic and paranoia. Our society now openly fears death in a way that I’ve never seen.
We fear economic uncertainty. I heard a stat a few days ago that for every person infected with corona virus, one hundred people are no longer working. What’s going to happen to your job, what’s going to happen because you lost your job, what’s going to happen to your business, what’s going to happen because your business is closed, what’s going to happen to your investments, what happens if the lock-downs continue or deepen? Is the world heading into economic recession? Depression? Will you be able to support your family in the days ahead? Will society crumble more?
Then there’s fear that comes with “social distancing” and “stay at home” orders. Suddenly, we’re being told that being alone is for our good, that human interaction – hugging, kissing, hand shaking, fist bumping, hand holding, and being around people is harmful. Yet, it also seems that loneliness and depression brought by isolation aren’t being taken as seriously.
“He is not here, for He is risen, as He said.” Jesus – the Savior of the world lives! He’s not dead. “Death no more has dominion over Him.” Jesus, who was gruesomely executed and buried, suddenly appears and says, “Greetings!” He’s a bit playful about it, as if nothing happened. Then again, death was no match for Him. Jesus told His disciples that He would die and rise on the third day. Even better than mom or dad comforting a child, Jesus tells the women not to be afraid. They receive the ultimate comfort – for their Lord who was dead is alive again.
What stills our fears? What calms and comforts us in these troubled times? The same thing that quieted the fears of the women. In these times of fear and uncertainty, don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid of any of the stuff that give so many people fear right now. Jesus rose from death. Not even death can control Him. So what should we fear? What can we fear? If God is for us – and the resurrection of Jesus proves God is for us – then what can be against us? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. If corona virus does its worst, if we lose everything we have in this life, then we still have all things in Christ – where moth and rust can’t destroy and where thieves can’t break in and steal.
By dying on the cross in sacrifice and rising again on the third day, Jesus has paid for the sins of the entire world and conquered death itself. We don’t have to be afraid because Jesus has made it so that the things which we formerly had every reason to fear can’t ultimately harm us. Our Lord lives and He is with us always, even amid social distancing!
DON’T BE AFRAID, FOR CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!