Sunday: Afraid yet filled with joy…

Posted by on Apr 9, 2023 in Blog | 0 comments

ethnic boy covering face with hands

“So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.” Matt 28:8

Have you been at a wedding where the groom cries, and the bride, and the parents, and granny – and as they do they all tell you how happy they are. Emotions are funny things. We sometimes cry when we are happy.

And then there are those funerals where people burst into loud laughter as the idiosyncrasies of the deceased are recapped and tolerantly recalled. At many funerals mirth and tears intermingle seamlessly. Emotions are funny things. We sometimes laugh when we are distraught.

How about the emotions of the women just informed that Jesus had risen from the dead? They had been to pay their respects at his tomb. They expected it to be as quiet as the grave, but instead there was a stone rolled away and an angelic being with a shining face calmly informing them that Jesus was risen from the dead and that they were to inform the disciples. Talk about unexpected!

How would you have felt if it was you? Matthew takes a snapshot of their emotions. They were both afraid and filled with joy.

Afraid and joyful. Are they incompatible emotions? Not really. They often partner together at life’s most significant moments. You might be delighted at a huge promotion, yet terrified at what’s involved in the new job. I’ve had some speaking engagements that have left me “afraid yet filled with joy”. It’s the simultaneous, “I get to speak there – that’s wonderful. Oh my goodness, think who will be there. Not sure I’m up to this.”

On that resurrection Sunday the women had their first task outlined for them. They were to inform the disciples of Jesus’s resurrection. They did. That part wasn’t too difficult. But it wasn’t as though that was the end. They had to keep telling the story. Not every audience was as sympathetic as the disciples. We know that most of the disciples were martyred for their faith – for spreading the message of the risen Christ. And it wasn’t just the disciples. Many of Jesus’s followers were uprooted, exiled, imprisoned and persecuted. Death has been conquered, but suffering before death is still very much alive. They were right to be a bit afraid. Nothing would be the same for them again.

True, if you follow Matthew’s account carefully they are “afraid yet filled with joy” after encountering an angel. Another encounter takes place shortly afterwards. This time they meet the risen Jesus. They fall at his feet in worship. It is all so overwhelming. And they hear him say, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell…”

Resurrection is never supposed to be a secret. It’s a truth for telling. Like the best truths, it transforms. It confirms our deepest suspicions… this life is not all that is. We are creatures of both time and eternity.

But it is more than confirmation. Way back in 1950 Norman Anderson perceptively wrote:“Easter is not primarily a comfort but a challenge.” It’s a challenge to live in the light of resurrection hope. It means courage becomes second nature because we have glimpsed life beyond the grave. It means doing anything less than the right thing is unthinkable – for we know that good will triumph. Yes, living like this can be a little scary, but Jesus’ instruction is clear, “Don’t be afraid.” And if we are not afraid, we are simply left with joy. Hope yours is a joy filled Easter.

As always, nice chatting…

Photo by Jessika Arraes on

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