Three things stood out to me from this Gospel passage, and they speak of God’s providence, His knowledge and His mercy.
In their hurry to get to the tomb of Jesus as early as possible, and therefore to attract as little attention as possible from passers-by, the women fixated on getting the spices ready and on transporting them successfully have forgotten to bring any man-power with them. The stone covering the entrance to the tomb is extremely large, and not something that the combined might of three women could budge. This worrying thought only dawns on them after they have set out for the tomb, and then consumes their thoughts for the rest of the journey. But God in His providence has already solved this problem for them, and before they even remembered that they needed help. The women don’t have to work out who is going to stay and guard the spices and who is going to go back and get help, they can proceed with their plan.
Only there’s no one to embalm with spices.
However there’s a young man dressed in a long white robe like the upper classes wear, someone of significance, sitting on the tomb ledge.
So much for not being discovered! The women experience a range of emotions that gets translated as alarmed, terrified, greatly astonished, awe struck, struck with amazement. The young man tells them ‘do not be ….’ and he uses the exact same base word for those range of emotions. Telling us that God knows exactly what we are going through, and exactly what we are feeling, and can calm us down.
Since a messenger must have a message to give; explanations for why the tomb is empty of Jesus and the details of a new mission for the women follow.
‘You must go and tell His disciples and Peter.’
If you remember the Passion narrative from St Mark, Peter well and truly blotted his copybook with Jesus; multiple
denials, emphasized with cursing, and with oaths.
Thus this message is important.
It also has at least two layers of meaning. The first layer is ‘go and tell My disciples and take special care that you make sure Peter gets the message’. The second layer is ‘go and tell My disciples, and also go and tell Peter that if he wants to become a disciple again, that the door is open for him to return’. Both layers of meaning are an invitation for Peter to receive the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus. It is quite possible that Peter might have never found the courage to return to the disciples without this merciful message.
So let us rededicate ourselves to the risen Lord Jesus, remembering that His providence anticipates our needs, remembering that He knows us better than we know ourselves, and remembering that He is willing to be reconciled with us no matter how badly we have stuffed things up.
May He help us remember, and may He enable us to increase our trust and confidence in Him. Amen.