Chapter 41.1 Resurrection Morning
Early Resurrection Morning (Easter Sunday) to Day of Ascension
(forty days), Judea and Galilee, spring A.D. 30
Holy Women at the Tomb of Jesus Christ, original oil painting by Adolphe-William Bouguereau, 1825-1905, painted in 1890
Holy Women at the Tomb of Jesus Christ, original oil painting by Adolphe-William Bouguereau,
1825-1905, painted in 1890
(CLICK on the image above for a LARGER version)

Angels at Tomb

Very early before sunrise on Sunday morning (first day of Jewish week), the stillness was broken by a great earthquake. An angel of the Lord descended from heaven, rolled aside the large stone that was in front of the sepulcher, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. When the Roman guards saw him sitting on the stone, they were overwhelmed by God’s power. Shaking with fear, they collapsed into a dead faint. The impossible just happened!

Light was just creeping into the sky and roosters were crowing when Mary Magdalene, Joanna wife of Chuza, Mary Clopas, and Salome the mother of James and John walked quietly through the deserted streets of Jerusalem. On their way to properly embalm the body of the Lord, they carried with them more precious spices, ointments, and fresh linen. City gates were open in spite of the earthquake, and along the way they discussed who would roll the stone away from the tomb’s entrance.

They arrived at the tomb just as the sun was rising—but no one was there! Only the birds, bursting their throats with joy, and the stone was already rolled away! The earthquake had frightened the soldiers away and opened the sepulcher. Something extraordinary had just happened!

Their hearts were beating uncontrollably as they came to the entrance. Bending their veiled heads in reverence for the Savior who lay there, the women stepped inside. Quickly and instinctively their eyes went to the stone slab where they had laid their beloved Lord. He was not there! And though it was so early, there was no darkness or clammy gloom inside the tomb—only light. They couldn’t find his body and wondered what had happened to it.

Suddenly two angels appeared clothed in dazzling robes, one at the head and one at the foot where the body of Jesus had lain, keeping guard over that holy stone. The women were terrified and bowed low before them.

The angels comforted them, “Do not be afraid! Why are you looking in a tomb for someone who is alive? He is not here! He has risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Do you not remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again the third day?” Then they remembered that he had said this.

“Now go and give this message to his disciples, including Peter, ‘Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died!’”

The women ran quickly from the grave. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and rushed to find the disciples to give them the angels’ message.

Mary Magdalene arrived first and burst into the upper room announcing, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!” The shock was so dreadful for her that her bruised mind could not grasp the meaning of the light and glory in the cave.

When Joanna, Mary Clopas, and Salome arrived, they found the disciples grieving and weeping over Mary’s news. The three women understood what the angels had said, and gave them a full account of what had taken place.

“The angels said this message is for you too, Peter. You are to be with us,” Salome reassured him.

The disciples could hardly believe it, but in that moment Peter’s soul awoke from the deep sleep of sorrow and shame. Instantly he regained his confidence and said to John, “We must go see for ourselves!”

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