After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the tomb. Look, there was a great earthquake, for an angel from the Lord came down from heaven. Coming to the stone, he rolled it away and sat on it. Now his face was like lightning and his clothes as white as snow. The guards were so terrified of him that they shook with fear and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He isn’t here, because he’s been raised from the dead, just as he said. Come, see the place where they laid him. Now hurry, go and tell his disciples, ‘He’s been raised from the dead. He’s going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ I’ve given the message to you.”
With great fear and excitement, they hurried away from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. But Jesus met them and greeted them. They came and grabbed his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers that I am going into Galilee. They will see me there.” (CEB)
The Resurrection of Christ from death has changed everything – especially when it comes to fear. In this season of Eastertide, we discover and explore the vast implications of what it means to possess a new life. Because Christians serve a risen Savior, this newfound awareness brings courage and confidence. Fear isn’t something we can simply exercise willpower over. Rather, fear begins to give way to the presence of God among us. Consider just a few of the many references to this in Holy Scripture:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, NIV)
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV)
“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NIV)
“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.” So, we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6, NIV)
Believe it, or not, the Bible tells us 365 times to not be afraid. Maybe that’s not a coincidence that we can quote a verse every day of the year about our own fearfulness in the face of so much of the world’s cruel circumstances.
When it comes to fear and bravery, God does not so much command us to be courageous, as he wants us to draw from the great reservoir of bravery within. That is, God has already created us strong, as creatures in his image. We just need to get in touch with what is already there. And the reality of Easter awakens and calls forth that life.
We can act with boldness and overcome fear because Jesus is the pioneer of our salvation. He is the One which enables us to draw from the deep well of courage….
“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same testing we do, yet he did not sin. So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:14-16, NLT).
You and I really can face the fears in front of us. You can surmount the adversity you are in the middle of – not because of some words I say, but because Christ has risen from death. He’s alive, and his presence makes all the difference.
The following is an Easter homily from the fourth-century preacher St. John Chrysostom to the Church of Constantinople:
“Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
“You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”
Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?
Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!”
Click Because He Lives sung by Guy Penrod as we are reminded that the living Christ makes all the difference today.