Have you ever been on an excursion, maybe a cruise or safari, not having ever seen what you are experiencing each day? Most are magical, some even breathtaking. Man has always been given to explore the unknown, the not yet seen. Ask the founding fathers of America, those astronauts going into space, or the pioneers who explored the West. Countless others. While one has some control over their adventure, most of it is in the hands of others.
Joanne and I were privileged several years ago to visit Israel on a tour led by Jim Denison. You can read scripture all day long, and even imagine the events, but nothing compares to actually seeing, walking on, and touching this historical country. As many will say, it simply opens up the Bible in a way you can not explain. It absolutely comes to life.
The tomb of Jesus
We visited the garden and saw the tomb, most likely the one Jesus spent part of three days and two nights. There was a stone there that would have covered the entry. But can you fathom what some temple guards witnessed during the earthquake and a heavenly angel sitting on the stone that was physically rolled away? “His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men” (Mt. 28.3,4). Their jobs, even their necks were on the line. Who would believe them?
Simultaneously, two, possibly three, women show up to visit the grave and grieve over the loss of their friend and who was supposedly the Messiah. What a shock to their system and mind. The stone removed (these were huge). But the angel speaks and assures them Jesus is alive. Plus go quickly and tell the disciples. And upon entering, they found only some neatly folded clothes and no Jesus. Wow!!! Their minds must have been running wild. Shock might be the word. No heart can handle this! It’s too much to take in. They left to go back “filled with fear and great joy” or “trembling and astonishment”. What an exhilarating combination of emotions.
If that were all there was, that would have been enough. As they are going, Jesus appears to them. How much more can one handle? What was his word of greeting to them? “Rejoice!” After they got their breath back, they did the only thing they could. Certainly, they were speechless. “So they came and held him by the feet and worshiped him”. Not a kiss, a hug, but prostrate, grasping his feet. Overwhelmed would be a gross understatement.
They loved Jesus and now he was alive, miraculously. I have asked myself over the past month during Easter, am I so gripped by fear and joy, astonishment over the Risen Lord, and his offer of salvation as were these women? Now, I am asking you the same question. I want us to meditate deeply; when was the last time ‘fear and joy, astonishment’ were your mindset? Do I, do you, love Jesus to the point we are gripped to the core. A trip to the Holy Land is a mind changer about God’s truth, but the Resurrection is a mind blower, a life changer!
All that we are or will ever become centers around the cross and empty tomb. I’ll close with this word. ASTONISHED! It means “being surprised, startled, stunned by some exceptional wonder, some overwhelming event or miracle”. Why don’t each of us start being amazed and astonished like these women over the miracle of our new, resurrected, born again life. None of which we will ever deserve. Grace was astonishingly at work that Resurrection morning, and it should still be in each of us every day. Share this with family and friends; they also may need some astonishment in their lives.