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Do Not be Afraid to Tell Others, “He is Risen!”

As Mark chapter 16 unfolds, the setting is tragic… Jesus had been crucified, died, and was laid in a tomb. The next day was the Sabbath – the first one that His followers will partake of after His death – with the reality that He is gone sinking in. Imagine the heartache… imagine the confusion… imagine not knowing what is next. In verses 1 and 2, we read that three of the women – Mary Magdalene, Mary (Jesus’ mother), and Salome (mother of John and James) went to the tomb with spices to anoint the body of Jesus. These women loved Him, followed Him, watched Him die on the cross, and are now going to care for his earthly body, according to their customs – and since this could not be done on the Sabbath, they are going as early as possible at sunrise the following day.

They wondered who will roll the large stone away from the door of the tomb for them (v. 3), but when they arrive find that the stone was already rolled away (v. 4). At this moment (upon reading these verses), it is easy for us to get excited because we know He is risen! However, let’s put ourselves in their places if we can… this sight must have caused fear and dread… thoughts like, “Who has entered our Lord’s tomb? Have they taken His body away? What does this mean?” When I contemplate this, I realize that it is a blessing to be alive now, 2000+ years later, with several Bibles in different versions right here at my fingertips – in paper form and online. We know the end of the story – but at that time these women (and all who loved Jesus) did not.

Then, the women enter the tomb (v. 5), which was very brave since they were already frightened and confused. Upon entering, they see an angel clothed in a long white robe and “they were alarmed.” In Biblical accounts when someone encounters an angel, scripture indicates that people are stunned and fearful; the angel tells them, “Do not be afraid” and proceeds to give them a message (Luke 1:30, 2:10). Here in verse 6, the angel says, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.” If I try to place myself there at that moment, I don’t know if I could think and comprehend over the sound of my heart pounding so rapidly and loudly that it might explode out of my chest!

Then the angel tells the women (v. 7), “But go, tell His disciples – and Peter – that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you” (Mt 26:32, on the night He was betrayed). The angel is reminding them of something Jesus told them before He was killed – that He would rise and meet them in Galilee – but this was too much for the women to process in this scary moment. “So, they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” The fear experienced by the women here is understandable. We naturally fear the unknown. In reality, the one thing they knew for sure was that the body of their Lord was missing. How could they immediately tell others that He is risen and will meet them - something so amazing and virtually unreal - before they could process it themselves?

This account reminds me of many people, including myself, before they come to know the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and fully realize that He has been resurrected and conquered death – for us, so that we can have eternal life with Him. Accepting this can be scary and confusing, causing us to wonder… What exactly does this mean? How does it impact my life? What do I do now? Who do I tell? Once we know the truth and follow Him, are we still sometimes afraid? Do we still hesitate to tell others?

We now have the blessing and the privilege of His written Word – the Bible, which from Genesis to Revelation is full of God’s truth and includes the end of the story – that Jesus is the victor over death and over the enemy of our soul. We also have His Holy Spirit that desires to live within us and direct us – our teacher and counselor, reminding us of what Jesus said and taught - the Spirit of truth that will guide us into all truth. (John 16:5-15)

So, let’s not be afraid! We don’t need to be! We not only know the end of the story, but we have the Word and the Holy Spirit of God to help us – and His resurrection power available to us! (Phil 3:10) So, go and tell others, “He is risen!”

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