He’ll Meet You There
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the tomb. 2 Look, there was a great earthquake, for an angel from the Lord came down from heaven. Coming to the stone, he rolled it away and sat on it.3 Now his face was like lightning and his clothes as white as snow.4 The guards were so terrified of him that they shook with fear and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He isn’t here, because he’s been raised from the dead, just as he said. Come, see the place where they laid him. 7 Now hurry, go and tell his disciples, ‘He’s been raised from the dead. He’s going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ I’ve given the message to you.”Matthew 28:1-10 (CEB)
8 With great fear and excitement, they hurried away from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. 9 But Jesus met them and greeted them. They came and grabbed his feet and worshipped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers that I am going into Galilee. They will see me there.”
Note: the links throughout this message will take you to songs that go along with the message. I suggest you read it through once, and then go back and listen along.
Today, all around the globe, people will gather and celebrate wildly. Brass instruments will be brought in. Butterflies will be released. Alleluias will be shouted and sung. In the words of the Electric Light Orchestra—There’s gonna be a party all over the world.
But the very first Easter morning was nothing like that. There was nothing to celebrate. Jesus was dead. Gone. Buried. When he uttered, “It is finished” from the cross, everyone took Him at His word.
The only comfort the people who loved him most could find was at the ancient cemetery. At the tomb where he was laid to rest. We do the same thing today with loved ones we’ve lost.
Maybe that’s what Mary and the other Mary were doing that day. Maybe they just wanted the comfort of being near where Jesus’ body lay. Maybe they remembered what Jesus had said about him coming back and they were hoping against hope that it was true. The scriptures just tell us that they had come to look at the tomb. In one form or another, they were looking for Jesus.
I’m going to wager that most of us here know just how the Marys felt. Contrary to the song we sing on Good Friday, we weren’t actually there when they crucified my Lord. But we know that feeling. When life has just pulled the rug out from under us, and the plans we had get shattered and scattered, and we go looking for some comfort in the arms of Jesus, and he seems to be missing. We go looking for Jesus just like Mary and Mary that first Easter morning.
And this crazy thing happens. The earth shakes and an angel appears from heaven and rolls back the stone in front of the tomb and just makes himself at home.
He tells the women: don’t be afraid. Jesus is not here.
Then he tells the women to, “Go. Tell his disciples. He’s gonna meet everybody in Galilee.” Go. Tell. He’ll meet you there.
And as the women go, they go with great joy and great fear–roller coaster ride, first-day-at-your-dream-job, wedding-day kind of combination of excitement and anxiety. But before they are able to tell anyone, Jesus meets them. The scripture says they “grabbed his feet.” Guess they wanted to make sure it was really and truly him in the flesh. Jesus gives them the same message the angel gave to take to the disciples, “Go. Tell. I will meet you there.”
“I will meet you there.” It was true for the women. It was true for the disciples. And it is true for you today. Jesus will meet you there.
You don’t have to go looking for Jesus. He’ll meet you there.
So go and tell. Jesus is out there getting things ready. He’ll meet you there. And I’m not just talking about the end of your life, but throughout your life.
Maybe you’re headed to an awkward family Easter dinner later today where you swear you’re not going to get into it with that one relative who always gets under your skin. Jesus will meet you there.
Maybe you’re a student anxious about AP tests and finals coming up, Jesus will meet you there.
When you’re waiting on the results of those medical tests, and you’re afraid of what they might say. Jesus will meet you there.
What if the rumors about layoffs at your job are true? What will you do if a pink slip lands on your desk? Jesus will meet you there.
Maybe your only child is headed off to college, and you’re moving across the country, and you still don’t have a place to live, and you have no idea what you’ll be doing in four months and…. perhaps this is way too specific to my own life. But if any of it applies to you, Jesus will meet you there.
In those times when someone is hurting and there nothing you can do but be there to hold their hand, Jesus will meet you there.
And when your time comes to leave this world, Jesus will meet you there. Jesus goes ahead of us into death so that we do not have to go there alone. Jesus will meet us there and lead us into a new life.
Even in those times when we doubt the existence of a loving and grace-filled God,
Even when we’re sure no one is going to show up for us,
Even when we don’t feel Jesus working in our lives,
Jesus doesn’t bail on us just because we think he has.
Jesus will still meet us there.
So you can stop looking for Jesus. Go forth. Tell the good news. Live out loud. Love fiercely. Be bold and brave. Know that whoever you are and wherever you go…the resurrected, living Lord Jesus Christ will meet you there.
Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Doubting Believer is a progressive and inclusive community of Christians. Follow us on Facebook and sign up for our mailing list to keep up with all things Doubting Believer.