The King’s Victory
by Robby Higginbottom
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. 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. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 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.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
Everything had changed, and no one knew it. On that Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb,” (Matt. 28:1), and they expected to find a closed tomb and a dead Jesus. Based on their expectations, their conversation focused on rolling away the stone, and in their hands they carried spices to anoint Jesus’ body. The folly of their focus soon became apparent, for the stone had been rolled away and Christ had risen. What the women (and other disciples) thought was a moment of defeat and mourning was actually the moment of victory and celebration. The women were walking around in the dawn of a whole new world, for “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). When Christ rose from the dead, He was the firstfruits of a new humanity and a new creation (1 Cor. 15:20). But on that resurrection Sunday, almost everyone in the world walked around oblivious to the earth-shaking reality. Everything had changed, and no one knew it!
As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ again this year, can we see that we’re not so different from Mary Magdalene and her friends? If we consider our conversations and what we carry, are we profoundly shaped by the reality of the risen Christ? Or are we walking around sad, distracted, and ashamed, not realizing that death has died and new life is bursting forth everywhere? If our hearts are sluggish in the glorious light of the resurrection, what do we do? A text like Matthew 28 invites us to the holy fear and intimate worship that flow from an encounter with Jesus. We worship a God so holy, powerful, and beautiful that He and His representatives must consistently tell us, “Do not be afraid” (Matt. 28:5). This same transcendent God—who deserves our reverence—also pursues an intimate connection with us, even in our sinful unbelief and small expectations. When we approach Him and take hold of His feet (Matt. 28:9) or spend time with Him, He does not turn us away. Without reverence, our relationship with the Lord becomes sentimental. Without intimacy, our relationship with the Lord grows cold. When is the last time we were in awe of the Lord? Are we ever so amazed at Him that He must tell us, “Do not be afraid?” When is the last time we enjoyed deep fellowship with the Lord? Do we ever spend time with Jesus just because we love Him?
The resurrection is an invitation to come and see. “He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay” (Matt. 28:6). Have we taken time to come and see? Can we see what Jaroslav Pelikan saw: “If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen, nothing else matters”? The resurrection is also an invitation to go and tell. “Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead” (Matt. 28:7). When we witness something amazing, we naturally want to tell people about it. Our joy grows as we share it with others. So have we witnessed something truly amazing? Have we experienced the transforming presence of Jesus Christ? Our King has won the victory over sin and death, and we have life in His name. This Easter, many people in the world walked around oblivious to the earth-shaking reality. If everything has changed, don’t we want everyone to know about it?