Daily Readings and Thought for January 26th. “WITH FEAR AND GREAT JOY”


 ‘Fear’ and ‘Joy’ do not usually mix together, but they did for that group of women who came to the tomb in which Jesus had been laid “after the Sabbath” was over – as we read in today’s final chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. It is desirable to put together the testimonies of all four gospels to get a full picture of events on that incredible morning of the resurrection.  Matthew tells us “toward dawn … Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb” [v.1].  Mark’s Gospel tells us the same thing, adding that Salome was with them (16 v.1), who is indicated in Matt.27 v.56 as “the mother of the sons of Zebedee” – but it seems only the two Mary’s witnessed the burial (v.61).  Mark says they “bought spices so that they might go and anoint him” and “it was very early”[16 v.1,2]. 

Luke’s record is similar, that it was “early dawn” and that previously “the women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how the body was laid.  Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.” [Ch.23 v.55,56; 24 v.1]  John only mentions Mary Magdalene in his Gospel coming “early while it is still dark” [20 v.1] and she then runs to tell Peter and himself that the stone has been taken away from the tomb.  These slight variations help to convince us that these are independent testimonies. 

This is the greatest event in their lives and they give considerable detail, which is very understandable.  Imagine being there yourself.  Sense the emotion of “fear and great joy” that unfolded.  We usually understand the Bible use of the word fear in this context as a sense of overwhelming awe – rather than being terrified. 

Matthew told us in yesterday’s reading that “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting opposite the tomb” [27 v.61] as Joseph of Arimathea “took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb” [v.59,60]  John adds the information that Nicodemus helped him (Ch.19 v.39,40) The women waited with no doubt great impatience until the Sabbath(s?) were over so they could embalm his precious body, touching it, so they thought, for one last time. The events that followed the next morning (and did they sleep at all that night?) makes us think that the words “with fear and great joy” after the angel told them “he has risen as he said” [Matt.27 v.6-8] – and they saw the tomb empty – are inadequate to describe their emotions!  And what is adequate to describe our emotion when he returns?  

YouTube player

This Days Readings

More Thought for the Day Posts.

More Like This

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.
Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.