Word of the Month

Fear and joy

March 2013

I would like to take a moment to look back upon the events of Good Friday and Easter. It touches us deeply when we reflect upon the account of Easter and everything that occurred on this occasion. To some degree, one can imagine the situation of the people involved at the time. What must the women have felt when they arrived at the grave? What must the astonished disciples have felt when the women told them that Jesus had risen from the grave?

We read that the women “went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy …” (Matthew 28: 8). Fear and joy? At first glance, these two terms do not seem to fit together at all! Nevertheless, we can well imagine their emotions. They were torn back and forth. They were not quite sure how to process what had occurred. Their roller coaster of emotions is actually quite understandable.

The women were most likely afraid because they did not immediately understand what had transpired here. Their Lord and Master had just suffered a horrible death—that of a criminal—and had died, completely abandoned by the world and even by God Himself. A feeling of deep despondency had settled into the hearts of the disciples and the women. Then, three days later, the two women—Mary of Magdala and another Mary, according to the gospel of Matthew—came to the grave. The stone, which none of them would have been able to move, had been rolled away by an angel, and the grave was empty. The authorities had posted a guard at the grave, had set the stone in front of its entrance, and had placed a seal upon it. It was the angel who first revealed to the two women the news that the Lord had resurrected. The fear that had arisen as a result of all of these unforeseen events was now replaced by joy over the resurrection of the Lord! After that, the Risen Lord Himself appeared to them and sent them to the disciples to tell them the good news.

The guards who had been assigned to watch the grave made their way to the Jewish authorities, who thereupon spread the rumour that the disciples of Jesus had stolen the body of their Lord. Thus there were already thoughts of doubt and unbelief in those days—people tried to find other explanations for the events that had transpired at Easter.

Questions also arise in our time. People are used to questioning everything. This is also a good thing—otherwise there would be no progress in the field of science or medicine, no training for young people in school, in their professions, or in their university studies. However, these questions do not stop at the resurrection either. In the view of natural science, a dead man cannot simply come back to life. He cannot simply resurrect! But this is a view that does not take into account the intervention of God! After all, the Bible clearly attests this divine intervention: it was God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead (cf. Acts 4: 10)!

Although there were no eyewitnesses present when the Lord resurrected, He did show Himself. He was indeed seen, which in the original Greek of the New Testament amounts to the same thing: He showed Himself. He was seen. There is no room for any thought of doubt.

May the joy of Easter prevail in our time, and may the Lord’s greeting of peace resound again today with new life: “Peace to you!” May every heart be filled with the peace of the Lord and the joy in His resurrection!      

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)