THE GREAT DISCOVERY
Late on the Sabbath, when the first day of the week was beginning to dawn, Mary from Magdala and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And, look you, there was a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his garment was as white as snow. Those who were watching were shaken with fear, and became as dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he is risen, as he said he would. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. Go quickly and tell his disciples: `He is risen from among the dead. And, look you, he goes before you into Galilee; there you will see him.’ Look you, I have told you.” So they quickly went away from the tomb with fear and with great joy, and they ran to tell the news to his disciples. And, look you, Jesus met them. “Greetings!” he said.
And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Fear not! Go tell my brothers to go away into Galilee, and there they will see me.”
Here we have Matthew’s story of the empty tomb. And there is something peculiarly fitting in that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary should be the first to receive the news of the Risen Lord and to encounter him. They had been there at the Cross; they had been there when he was laid in the tomb; and now they were receiving love’s reward; they were the first to know the joy of the Resurrection.
As we read this story of the first two people in the world to be confronted with the fact of the empty tomb and the Risen Christ, three imperatives seem to spring out of it.
(i) They are urged to believe. The thing is so staggering that it might seem beyond belief, too good to be true. The angel reminds them of the promise of Jesus, and confronts them with the empty tomb; his every word is a summons to believe. It is still a fact that there are many who feel that the promises of Christ are too good to be true. That hesitation can be dispelled only by taking him as his word.
(ii) They are urged to share. When they themselves have discovered the fact of the Risen Christ, their first duty is to proclaim it to and to share it with others. “Go, tell!” is the first command which comes to the man who has himself discovered the wonder of Jesus Christ.
(iii) They are urged to rejoice. The word with which the Risen Christ meets them is Chairete (GSN5463); that is the normal word of greeting; but its literal meaning is “Rejoice!” The man who has met the Risen Lord must live for ever in the joy of his presence from which nothing can part him any more.
Back to: Barclay’s Commentary