Matthew 28:5 “The angel said, ‘Do not be afraid for I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.’”

Observation: Jesus had been crucified two days earlier and buried in a tomb.  The two Marys…Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and John…had sat opposite the tomb watching the burial and the subsequent sealing of the tomb’s entrance. Now, after Sabbath, the Marys had gone again to look at the tomb when they encountered the angel who said, “I know you are looking for Jesus…”

Application: Was the angel wrong? After all, verse 1 very clearly says they had gone “to look at the tomb.”

These devastated, grieving women had not a thought in the world of seeing Jesus. They had witnessed the cruelty of His crucifixion and burial; they knew Him to be dead. They did intend to see His body, for Luke 24:1 tells us they had brought spices with which to anoint Him for the burial that had occurred before Sabbath. But the angel spoke as if they had gone to see something more than a corpse, yet surely not; if they had expected to see a living man, why would they have brought burial spices?

No, these women were like all bereaved. Once dirt has been mounded, flowers lovingly laid before the tombstone and weeds pulled from near the polished marble, they would simply sit at the tomb and look.

This does not seem a promising way to spend yet a second day; doesn’t life have to move on? There is grain to grind, eggs to gather, clothes to lug to river’s edge. But those who have lost a loved one know all too well the slow-motion nothingness that surrounds heart and mind in death’s aftermath. It is enough to go again to stare at the tomb as though nearness to a plot of freshly turned prairie could restore relationship, as though tending the gravesite could substitute for caressing the one now buried.

But the angel knew better than they what their hearts longed for. While they sought “place”, He offered relationship. They were like a small child meandering slowly through the house in pursuit of a lost shoe, not realizing that the waiting father would joyously sweep her high overhead in spasms of delight once both feet were shod.  “Push past the aimless wandering”, the father urges!  “I’m taking you on a picnic, in the woods, with mommy,” each phrase building appeal into the day’s promise. The child pokes along unaware of the joy set before her. But God knows. The angel knew. I do not seek a lost shoe, or a place. My heart longs for Jesus who once was dead, but now is gloriously alive.

Prayer: Father, forgive me for repeatedly setting my sights far too low, for being content to gaze at loss when You offer intimacy.