Be Still

(This excerpt from a Bible study I wrote titled Be: Lessons from the Gospel of Matthew seemed appropriate to post on this most holy of days in our Christian tradition. Sunday is indeed coming, but today we wait.)

Matthew 28:1-10

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

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. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Saint Mary Magdalene

The waiting is the hardest part

Every day you see one more card

You take it on faith, you take it to the heart

The waiting is the hardest part

– Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, “The Waiting”

While this is rocker’s anthem from the 1980s is admittedly not bulletproof theology, it does contain a universal truth: Waiting is hard! The question is why. What about waiting makes it so excruciating? What makes us put off renewing a driver’s license or shopping for a new phone? The answer seems to be a lack of patience. 

The women in today’s reading showed a commendable amount of fortitude in waiting. After an excruciating day of watching their Lord die a bloody, cruel, and unjust death, they faithfully observed the Sabbath for 24 hours before following their hearts’ yearnings to visit his grave. Imagine what dark thoughts and fears they endured as they determined to quiet their minds for the requisite seventh day’s rest. They must have fought the urge to fuss about, cooking, cleaning, or mending, all to take their minds off the horrors of the previous day. Yet they remained faithful to the law Jesus had loved. They were still.

What immeasurable reward was waiting for them as they came upon the empty tomb! The stone had been rolled away and an angel of the Lord displaying supernatural luminescence sat upon it waiting for them. His message was more than they could have wished for: Not only was Christ alive, they were given the honor of telling the disciples the earth-shattering news, and passing on instructions to go to Galilee where Christ would meet them.

Just when their hearts were full to bursting, Jesus himself met them face-to-face. They were the first to be given a chance to worship the risen Messiah. Although the Sabbath had been long and dark, their reward was more than they could have dreamed possible (1 Cor. 2:9).

From “Jesus Today” by Sarah Young: Just remember: There are many different ways to wait, and some are much better than others. Beneficial waiting involves looking to me continually—trusting and loving me.

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