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.” Mathew 28:1-10
The tomb. The place that signified death. With this passage from Matthew, I am reminded that whenever something is dead in our lives, God is not done with us yet. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus were expecting to see Jesus’ body still inside the tomb. They were expecting to weep again. Lo and behold, Jesus was not there anymore. He had risen.
In our own tombs where painful memory lives, or a dead dream, or dashed expectations, we have a message we can cling to: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen….”
One of Jesus’ names is LIFE (John 14:6). The grave held no power over Him. When Jesus died and resurrected, He allowed for freedom and eternal life to be ours. This does not mean that we escape physical death or live on the earth for 500 years. It does mean, however, that Jesus’ resurrecting power over death gives us freedom to live an eternity with Him and a freedom to break every chain of death even while here on earth.
It is good to remember that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor.3:17).
Whenever life feels less than what it should be, or whenever life feels dead, we should shake the dust off our heads and unravel our grave clothes. We should remind ourselves that our God of life is on the move. He comes to our tombs, ready to declare life and awaken hope. In Mary and Mary Magdalene’s case, the darkest event– Christ’s death– was actually the setting for a drama where resurrection life would triumph and bring salvation and life to the whole world.
Far too often, we humans stare at the tombs of our lives. We forget that God sees all things, and that He has gone ahead of us to weave an unmistakable story where He triumphs at the end. Yes, the Lord is capable of gathering the broken and dead pieces of our lives to turn them into something beautiful and glorious; something that will reflect His glory and grace. It is His expertise: to make all things work together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). All things– including the dead things. We simply need to trust Him.
In our tombs is that simple but powerful message: “Do not be afraid… Jesus has risen.” Tombs do not have the last say on our lives. Jesus lives. So must we.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.