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.”
(Matthew 28:1-10 ESV)
Over the past couple of days we’ve been studying the resurrection of Jesus and how several women were the first witnesses to this event. At the behest of the angel they encountered at the empty tomb they ran to tell the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead.
As they left the tomb to tell the others Jesus met them. Just a few minutes before they were sad as they came to the tomb. Then they were afraid and confused as they saw the angel and the empty tomb. Now they were glad because they received confirmation of the angels words. Their sorrow had turned to joy just as Jesus as told them it would [John 16:20].
The word translated “Greetings!” is the Greek word χηαιρο (pronounced: khah’-ee-ro). The literal translation of this word is “be glad; rejoice”. This word was often used when encountering other people, much like “aloha” or “shalom”.
Knowing that Jesus is alive is great cause for rejoicing. For it means that He did pay the penalty for our sins and that penalty was accepted by God on our behalf. The appropriate response is to do just as these women did – take hold of Jesus and worship Him.
Notice that Jesus accepted the worship of these ladies. Worship should only be directed to God. If Jesus were not God, it would have been inappropriate to receive such worship. It would have been blasphemous, in fact. Jesus was God and indicated so not only with words, but with actions.
Notice something else – Jesus calls the disciples His “brothers”. This is the first time that Jesus references them as such and it is significant that He did so only after the resurrection.
Before His death and resurrection Jesus called the disciples His friends [John 15:13-15]. There were close to Him, but they were not family. There was still some distance between them. But because Jesus paid the penalty of our sin we are now able to be even closer to God. We can be part of God’s eternal family.
The overarching message of the Bible is “God is creating a family and He invites you to join it”. Our life on this earth is an invitation to join the eternal family God is creating. We do that by being born again and believing in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins [John 1:12, 3:3, 16].
When people fail us our relationship with them becomes strained if not broken. But that is not the case with Jesus. The disciples had failed Jesus. Yet He doesn’t have a harsh word for them. Instead, He considers them to be His brothers now.
Similarly, it was my sin and your sin that sent Jesus to the cross. Yet we are not reproached. God seeks no revenge. Instead He invites us to be His sons and daughters, to share in His inheritance, and to live in His house forever [John 14:2-3; Romans 8:16-17; Ephesians 1:18].
It was God’s plan from the beginning not to punish us for our sin but to save us from it. And that He did with the cross. No one need ever be separated from God. We can be His children and He can be our Father. And that is cause for great rejoicing.
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