“After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.” (Matthew 28:1, NRSV)

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Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. It doesn’t say they went to see the body of Jesus. In Matthew’s gospel, the women didn’t even bring spices to finish the burial procedures required by Jewish ritual. It only says they “went to see the tomb.” It may be a stretch to assume that they went only to see the tomb because they remembered Jesus’ words about his resurrection—especially given Jesus’ cryptic descriptions of his future in the days leading up to his death. It would also be a stretch to assume that the possibility of his resurrection wouldn’t have at least crossed their minds on some level. The women around Jesus seemed to have an intuition about him that his male disciples lacked.

Following their arrival at the tomb, there is a combination of both fear and joy that swings back and forth between the two like a pendulum. It starts with an earthquake and then an angel descending from heaven to roll away the stone that covered the opening of the tomb. The guards who were posted to keep the tomb from being disturbed fainted at the sight of this angel. The women don’t seem to be phased as much by the angel’s miraculous entry. The angel still admonishes them to “not be afraid.” The angel delivers the news that Jesus is not there for by God’s power, he is no longer dead, and they should gather their wits and go and tell their friends.

The scripture says they left the tomb, again, with both fear and joy swinging in the balance as they made their way back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples. It’s then that Jesus appears to them. They immediately drop to their knees at his feet and worship him. Jesus also instructs them to lay aside any fear and to tell his disciples he will meet them in Galilee. They will soon experience both the fear and the joy of seeing the resurrected Jesus.

On Easter, we have a choice to look at the tomb or to look at the risen Savior. I choose to look at the Risen Savior. He is the One with the power to change my life. He is the One who has conquered fear and death and restored me to joy and new life. He is the One who can’t dwell in the tombs of my despair or hopelessness; for those tombs are unable to contain the power and hope of his life-changing presence. Are you looking into the tombs of your life or are you looking at how Jesus has already redeemed the brokenness and imperfections in your life? Together, let’s keep our eye on the Risen Savior and challenge each other to stop looking at the tombs—they’re empty—they have no power—they are obsolete. That is the story of Easter—a story of redemption and joy made possible by a Risen Savior!

Rev. Dale Cohen
Senior Pastor of Canterbury United Methodist Church


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