Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, . . . there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. Matthew 28:1a, 3-4 ESV
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
covering yourself with light as with a garment,
stretching out the heavens like a tent.
He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;
he makes the clouds his chariot;
he rides on the wings of the wind;
he makes his messengers winds,
his ministers a flaming fire. Psalm 104:1-4 ESV
Lightning is an amazing and powerful thing, and it can be very beautiful to watch. Most lightning flashes between one cloud and another, but sometimes lightning moves from a cloud to the earth. It is caused by electrical imbalances between clouds, or between clouds and the ground. Sometimes lightning looks like a bead, a rocket, or a ribbon, but often it is a sheet from a distant cloud that seems to light up the whole sky. Many people are afraid of lightning, and in fact lightning can be very dangerous. Each bolt of lightning that hits the ground can contain up to one billion volts of electricity. Lightning is also extremely hot, and a flash of lightning can heat up the air around it to five times hotter than the sun’s surface! This makes the air expand and vibrate, and it’s what causes thunder.
Early on the first Easter morning, while the soldiers were standing guard at the tomb, some awesome and powerful things happened. There was a strong earthquake, and then an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled the stone away from the tomb. The angel had clothes as white as snow and looked like lightning. This was very frightening to the soldiers. They could see the power of God at work, and they were so scared they weren’t able to move. They might have looked inside the tomb they were supposed to be guarding, and seen that it was empty. The Lord had done the most amazing and mighty thing imaginable, but the guards couldn’t see its beauty. All they knew was fear.
When we see the power and glory of God at work, we are often afraid as well. We know that we are sinful people, and God’s glory and power can show his righteous judgment against our sins. But Jesus’ resurrection tells us that God did his most powerful act in love for us. Jesus conquered sin and death so that we don’t have to be afraid of dying or of facing God’s judgment. When we see Jesus’ empty grave, we see the power of the love of God, and the beauty of the salvation Jesus won for us.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the beauty and power of Jesus’ resurrection, and for the life with you it won for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.