So we hear these words from the angel at the tomb; “Don’t be afraid”.
They always say that throughout the bible whenever they encounter humans.
Let’s face it, if you or I saw a real angel appear, we’d probably freak out too.
But then Jesus says the same thing to the women as they see him resurrected.
“Don’t be afraid”, he tells them.
Then he says, tell the others of his resurrection and he’ll meet them in Galilee.
It’s not just seeing something we’ve never seen before that can scare us.
A whole slew of things we see all the time in life that can give us worry,…anxiety,…even fear.
Those things that scare us and our fears begin when we are little and continue through adolescence into adulthood.
We are afraid when our parents get mad at us or punish us.
We worrying how other kids might view or treat us.
We have anxiety that the girl or boy we like will not like us or go out with us.
We’re afraid of failure when we do college applications or job interviews.
Then we’re afraid of not being appreciated, promoted or fired when we get a job.
We fret about bills piling up, how our kids growing up, or if our grandkids will be OK.
Actions of our government,…other governments,…and world affairs scare us too.
And….sooner or later,…..we all become a little afraid of death.
This resurrection story is (of course) about Jesus, who God raised from the dead.
It the story of all stories that reminds us, in faith, we can overcome fears.
But while Jesus was the one resurrected,…you know who’s the probably the most heroic person in this story after Jesus?
The reason is that, ironically, Mary Magdalene’s faith in Jesus never let her fears scare her away.
She stayed with, and trusted, and was there with Jesus every step of the way.
In fact, unlike most others, she was there during his ministry,….there at his crucifixion,… there for his burial,….there to see and then tell of the resurrection.
Unfortunately, Mary Magdalene has been cast incorrectly in movies, art, and church history for the last 500 years as a fallen women; that is, as a prostitute.
There is really no biblical basis for that except that years after the fact, she was thought to be the woman of the town who anointed Jesus feet.
But there is no bible support for that and it just plain doesn’t make sense.
So today, instead of thinking of her for something she was not,…let’s remember her for what she really was -
the follower of Jesus who, despite any fears, was always there for him.
When Jesus as he was challenged and threatened along the way by the religious leaders and authorities,….(some others were scared and chose to believe in him secretly)… but, despite her fears she was there.
When he was arrested and humiliated,…. (as all of his disciples got scared and fled) she was there
When he was nailed to a cross to die,…(while the others were hiding) she was there regardless of her fears
When he was to be buried,…(when, again, most were not) she was there with the body.
And when the opportunity came to witness the resurrection,…she was there.
In fact, she was rewarded for her faithfulness of being there with the honor of being the first person to see and then tell about the resurrected Jesus.
This resurrection story really is the ultimate story that tells us what God is like.
Jesus reflected that in his ministry, and now shows it through his resurrection.
But a great example of what God is like,….is Mary Magdalene.
Just as she was there for Jesus,…..so is God always there for us.
Whenever we feel threatened by events or others.
Whenever we are humiliated or taken advantage of.
Whenever we have pain and suffer.
Whenever we will die……God is there for us.
There for us whatever our worst fears, to help overcome what makes us afraid.
There for us no matter how bad things seem, to help douse the flames of fear.
There for us,…yes,…at the end when death beckons,…so we will not be afraid.
In our daily living,….in the big things and small,…in life and death - be not afraid.
The goodness and power and promises of God will be there for you.
Mary Magdalene was there for Jesus,….and saw first hand that her faith was not for naught.
So too will your faith not be for naught because God in Christ will always be there for us, to bring hope and life out of fear and death.
In our last day of resurrection after death, but also everyday of life before that!