“But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.’ ” Mark 16:6-7
There the women were. At the grave where they’d seen Joseph of Arimathea place the body of Jesus. In their hands they carried ointments and perfumes so that they could apply additional applications to our Saviors lifeless body.
The first surprise they get that morning is that the stone covering the entrance to the tomb has already been rolled away. Someone else is here ahead of them.
But when they enter the tomb they don’t see any sober, yet familiar, persons tending to their Saviors form. In fact, Jesus is gone and in his place they are greeted by a young man they don’t know who assures them that Jesus, “just as he said,” has risen from the dead and he is going ahead of them into Galilee and that they should tell the disciples – and Peter – that he will see them there.
There are a few things that impress me in this brief encounter. The first is Jesus’ kindness in having one of his angels remain at the tomb to explain what happened to women that would come there first and discover that he was no longer in the grave. He didn’t have to. He’d already told them he was going to rise on the third day. He could have left the disciples to figure it out from their memories of what he’d already told them. But he didn’t. He moved ahead with kindness and gentleness.
Then there’s the part where he specifically instructs the women to tell Peter. After his denials Peter is doubting his right to consider himself a disciple but Jesus doesn’t kick him to the curb. Jesus makes sure that Peter knows he’s included in the invitation to meet him in Galilee.
And then there’s the words, “as He said to you.” It not a dig, like we might say to one another. But it is a reminder that Jesus has given them instructions about what’s going to happen and what they’re supposed to do. If they’ll take a step away from their grief and confusion and take the time to think and remember they’ll be able to cooperate with Jesus in the next phase of his work to save the world.
For us today this third observation is, without a doubt, the most important. Many times the gospel is presented as Jesus died and is risen and that’s it. But there’s more to saving the world than that. Jesus first had to purchase the means of salvation by giving himself to died in our place. After that comes the convincing of each person about the need to accept that salvation. For that he enlists our help. We’re His witnesses. He calls us away from the trauma that so often afflicts us and bids us to come to him. He himself will assure us before he sends us out to share his great salvation with those he longs to save.