January 27, 2021

The Appearances of the Risen Christ, 2

By Chaplain Mike

We are marking the Great Fifty Days of Easter with a series of devotional thoughts on the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus.

Today we return to the scene on Easter Sunday morning, as described in Matthew 28:1-10 (NIV).


After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like 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; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”


“Afraid yet filled with joy”—that is as apt a description as there can be of what it feels like when a person has a genuine encounter with spiritual reality.

  • Afraid because one is face to face with something far beyond human control or maneuvering.
  • Yet filled with joy because one is assured that the encounter confirms the love, grace, and kindness of God toward us—opening doors of hope, comfort, and blessing that we can barely imagine.

Matthew’s account of the empty tomb and the risen Christ’s appearance to the women on Easter Sunday emphasizes the powerful Kingdom of God breaking in to our poor fallen and grief-stricken world. It tells of earthquakes and brilliant angelic manifestations. It unveils the fact that powers of this world are in truth feeble—see them quaking with fear and becoming as dead men before the Lord!

But resurrection morning also comes to us in a tender word, in our own language, assuaging our fear, addressing our sorrow, proclaiming the Good News, inviting us to “come and see” that it is true—He is not here, he is risen!—then giving us a mission of going and telling others.

And ultimately, right in the midst of our breathless fear and joy, we meet Jesus himself, standing on the road before us, greeting us personally and calling us to gather in his presence.

And we worship him.

Afraid yet filled with joy.

O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that I, who have been raised with him, may abide in his presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ my Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and ever. Amen.

(Prayer for the Week from The Divine Hours)


  1. Quixotequest says

    Afraid yet filled with joy — another paradox and sign of confronting the otherness of God. These are good reminders for, perhaps, less appealing states to spiritually seek, meditate upon or at least to a personal inventory whether we ever righteously experience awe, fear, debasement, and a sad remorse. Obviously “positive energy” is good and deliberate emotional flagellation is not what I’m talking about. Yet if we seek only appealing emotional highs then how do we know when we’re not just being stroked, self-manipulated and constructing our own stand in for God rather than being consumed, humbled, shaped, uplifted and transformed by the fire of His active love?

    Okay, that’s a bit rhetorical. 🙂

  2. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Isn’t this where it’s all at?

    NOT Genesis !?

    Six Days 6014 years ago or Sagans of years ago in a Grand Cosmos won’t matter to me personally if there is Nobody with the Words of Eternal Life.

  3. Well, since you brought up the Genesis debate again…maybe, like Genesis, this whole physical resurrection thing is really just supposed to be pure allegory, just a metaphor.

    I mean, honestly, if God used evolution and long periods of time to create, and not really 6 literal days, then maybe he wouldn’t literally make Jesus alive again on earth.

    After all, isn’t it enough that Jesus is alive and living in my heart that really counts?

    (dripping sarcasm.)

    • Jonathan, you have no idea how relieved I was to read your last two words.

      (tired. so tired.)

      • Granpajohn says

        I think he almost gotcha… 🙂

        But on the text at hand; have you ever been in the ecstasy of sweet prayer and been afraid to open your eyes for fear of seeing the Master’s feet?
        Yeah, Afraid yet filled with joy.

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