Wonderful Truths of Easter
by Rev. Kimberly Wecht
Director of Mission and Pastoral Care
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. (Matthew 28: 5-8)
If we look at the complete setting of the women’s visit to the tomb from all four Gospel accounts there is little surprise as to why the women are apparently afraid. They arrive to an earthquake, angels appearing in such a startling way that the guards are rendered unconscious, an angel sitting on the massive stone that was covering the way into the tomb and as if all of that is not enough Jesus’ body is not there! The angel rightfully discerns their fear and assures them that there is nothing to be fearful about for Jesus is not there, but has risen. We then see the women still uncertain and anxious yet filled with new hope and joy over this great news that Jesus is alive! Afraid, but joy-filled. Seemingly conflicting emotions yet lived out simultaneously. What does this tell me? It tells me that the great news given by the angel doesn’t wipe out their fears, but it gives them the faith, strength, and joy necessary to be able to fulfill their mission in the midst of their fears.
Fear and joy are often interchanged not only for these women but also for us as well. As a Mom, I experience fear for the safety of children as they learn to drive, as they live in a world with rampant drug problems, and as they begin to go out on their own yet at the same time I am filled with joy over being able to be their Mom and to watch them learn and grow and discover what their purposes are in this life. I hear of those in the workforce who live in fear over the state of their employment yet are joy-filled to have the colleagues they do and the fulfillment they get from the work that they do. There are others who are fearful over their health and diagnosis yet joyful that they have such great access to healthcare and insurance to help pay for it. Fear in the midst of joy and joy in the midst of fear.
One of the wonderful truths of Easter is that while faith in the Lord does not necessarily remove us from our difficult circumstances it makes it possible for us to have hope, strength, peace, and courage in the midst of those same circumstances so that we can be victorious! The reality of Jesus Christ overcoming death and rising victoriously from the tomb gives us the power and victory over not only death itself, but also over the difficulties we face each day! I have walked through many difficulties in my own life and one thing I know to be true is that I would not have been able to get through them as well as I have without my faith in the risen Christ!
As the great Easter hymn says, “Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, Lift up your voice and sing, Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King! The Hope of all who seek Him, The Help of all who find, None other is so loving, So good and kind. He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives, He lives, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.” (“He Lives” Alfred Ackley).