Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.
Matthew 28:5,6 NLT
Early on Sunday morning Mary Magdalene and the other Mary returned to the tomb where on Friday they had seen Jesus’ dead body laid. Probably overcome with grief and fearful of the soldiers who were guarding the tomb, they experienced a great earthquake and then were shocked to see an angel of the Lord come down and roll away the huge stone that had blocked the entrance to the tomb. (Matt.28:1-7)
The reality they experienced certainly did not match what they had reasonably expected to see. The angel told them that Jesus had risen, “just as he has said.” Several times in the resurrection story people are reminded that Jesus had told them what would happen. Repeatedly, he warned that he would be handed over to be crucified, but would rise again. He had been preparing them so that they would believe that this was the Father’s will and plan.
It is probably useless to imagine how differently they might have reacted had they truly listened and believed. Can you think of times that, when looking back, you realized that Jesus was preparing you for what you would encounter?
In the book of Acts we are told that the resurrected Jesus appeared to people for forty days before being taken up to Heaven. The Apostles were with Jesus when he rose into a cloud until they no longer could see him. Two angels appeared as they strained to see him and told them that someday they would see Jesus return in the same way he was taken. His disciples would not be left alone, Jesus had told them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to be given to them. The Spirit, who was the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, would guide and empower them in establishing Christ’s Kingdom on earth, even if they no longer would see their Messiah.
In a similar way to Jesus’, our future was set before the earth was created. God is a loving Creator who wants the best for us, so wants us to make the most of each precious day ordained for us to live. He has gone before us and has left clues of his presence and his working on our behalf. We are indwelt with the same Spirit that resurrected our Lord. He, will empower us to succeed in our mission.
We, too, have expectations that might be altered if we believed all that Jesus has told us. What joy and peace are we missing today because we fail to recognize and cooperate with the time of preparation we are in? May we recognize and remember each thing God has taught us, each word he has spoken to prepare us, so that we can triumph over every scheme of the enemy, be a blessing to those around us and bring much glory to God. God is, even now, preparing us for our futures. Expect to be amazed!
Dear friend, be blessed to have the Holy Spirit fill you, open your eyes to see, cause your ears to hear, and your minds to understand the wonders of the Father’s plans for you. May you be the one to say, “just as he said”, as you praise God and give him the glory for what he has done to prepare you to live victoriously, unashamed and confident of who God created you to become. Amen.
Mary Sumner ~ April 7, 2021