Greetings. . . . Do not be afraid. (vv. 9-10)
“Do not be afraid.” Whenever angels appear in the Bible, these are the first words out of their mouths. To a virgin named Mary, “Do not be afraid.” To shepherds on a hillside, “Do not be afraid.” Now to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary the angel speaks these words, “Do not be afraid.” And the angel tells them how Jesus is not there. The women leave the empty tomb and rush to tell the disciples that Jesus has been raised from the dead.
On their way, the risen Jesus meets them. Some English versions make his greeting to the women sound a bit vapid. To translate his first word, “Greetings!” fails to capture something in the original Greek language. What Jesus says is Chairete, which means “Rejoice!” It is the same word the apostle Paul writes to the church in Philippi: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). The risen Jesus greets these women not with a casual “Hello” or “How’s it going?” He says to them: “Rejoice. . . . Do not be afraid.”
The women take hold of Jesus’ feet and worship him. The resurrected Jesus is not a ghost or a figment of their imagination. He is real and he is alive and can be seen, heard, and touched. And in the face of the seemingly impossible, we too can hear the words of Jesus in our lives, “Do not be afraid! Rejoice!”
Prayer: Risen Christ, we rejoice that you are alive and speak words of assurance. Amen.
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