Fear Not! by Chad Johns
I have often wondered how we got from the angel described in this passage from Matthew to the American understanding of angels as beautiful women in gowns or naked babies, as neither of these appear in the Bible. I have often wondered how, but I think I know why.
We want to make them normal. Understandable. Safe. But read again the description of the angel. It’s power. It’s glory. “His appearance was like lighting.” I don’t even know what that looks like, but it invokes a visceral sense of beauty and danger. And yet, his first words are, “Do not be afraid.” Notice that Jesus says the same thing.
We’re inclined to fear anything dangerous and to view as dangerous anything we don’t understand – even if it’s good. What would your first reaction be if you saw a blazing figure at a tomb who arrived with an earthquake, paralyzed some guards, and told you your dear friend had come back to life and was waiting for you in another town? I imagine we’d all need a reassuring “do not be afraid” or two.
Sometimes we fear good things. We fear they’re too good to be true. We fear they’re too good for us, that we are not worthy of goodness. But, today is Easter. If you are looking for Jesus who was crucified, do not be afraid, he is not here. He is risen and is going before you and will meet you in the midst of life, whoever and wherever you are.
And that is GOOD NEWS. Do not be afraid.
Holy One, take my fear this day, that I may see all that is good and embrace it. in the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Matthew 28: 1-10
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’ So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’