ODJ: the fear of Easter

April 5, 2015 

READ: Matthew 28:1-10 

The angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen” (vv.5-6).

Growing up, Easter Sunday was always a day of joy and celebration. The rich worship at church and wonderful feast at home made for one happy day. But recently I’ve been reflecting on the fact that Resurrection Sunday once elicited a very different emotion: fear.

When the angel of the Lord appeared at the tomb, the guards were overcome by fear and “fell into a dead faint” (Matthew 28:4). Likewise, the women were frightened by the angel of the Lord, whose face shone like lightning and whose clothes were as white as snow. He so startled them that his first words were, “Don’t be afraid!” He then said, “I know you are looking for Jesus” (v.5).

Clearly, they were in need of some comfort! And when the believers saw the resurrected Jesus for the first time, they fell at His feet in worship as He assured them: “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, for they will see me there” (v.10).

In this age it seems strange to think of Easter as a day of fear because we think fear is negative, and Easter and negative don’t fit. But I think this is the wrong way to understand what took place. The fear that the first witnesses of the resurrection experienced was the fear of the Lord, which fits quite well with feelings of joy! It’s a reverent fear.

Sometimes we separate emotions from one another, thinking that there are certain emotions that just don’t go together—either happy or mournful, joyful or sad. But the resurrection reminds us that in all moments of life, even the most joyful, the fear of the Lord can and should be present. As we rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus is alive, we should also be in awe of the power of God that raised Him from the dead!

—Peter Chin

365-day-plan: 2 Samuel 11:1-27

Read Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10 for further reminders of the place and importance the fear of the LORD has in our lives. 
Do you think of fear as a good or a bad thing? In what ways is it beneficial, and in what ways is it harmful? What sets the fear of God apart from other types of fear we experience?