The Scriptorium

Rejoice! Fear Not!

Why did Jesus reveal Himself first to women? Matthew 28.9, 10

Matthew 28: Risen! (3)

Pray Psalm 96.8-10.
Give to the LORD the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come into His courts.
Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!
Tremble before Him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns;
The world also is firmly established,
It shall not be moved;
He shall judge the peoples righteously.”

Sing Psalm 96.8-10.
(Mit Freuden Zart: All Praise to God, Who Reigns Above)
Bring off’rings sweet to Him, our Lord; in holy garments praise Him!
Tremble before Him, all the earth; among the nations raise Him!
The earth is fixed, it will not move; the peoples will His justice prove.
Exalt the Lord and praise Him.

Read Matthew 28.1-10; meditate on verses 9, 10.

1. How did the women respond to seeing Jesus?

2. What did He tell them to do?

Let’s set this stage a bit more fully. I want to reconstruct the events of this morning as best I can, though it’s difficult, and some of what follows is necessarily speculative.

First, it seems as though Mary Magdalene may have come to the tomb by herself, quite early (Jn. 20.1). When she “saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb”, she ran to tell Peter and the other disciples (Jn. 20.2). Upon hearing this, Peter and John ran to the tomb, and found it just as Mary had reported (Jn. 20.3-8). Having seen the empty tomb, Peter and John “went away again to their own homes” (Jn. 20.10).

It seems that Mary returned to the tomb, where she perhaps was met by the other women, who brought the spices for anointing Jesus’ body (Mk. 16.1ff). By this time, Peter and John had already arrived and left. These women – Mary the mother of James, Joanna, Salome, and perhaps others – may not yet have known about the resurrection. They were simply coming as agreed to do the work of anointing the body. At that point, perhaps pointed out by Mary Magdalene, the women saw the stone rolled away and went into the tomb; and there they were met by “two men” in shining garments (Lk. 24.4; “angels”, Jn. 20.12). Mark records only one “man clothed in a long white robe” (Mk. 16.5), and Mark may have mentioned only him because he was the spokesman (Matt. 28.5).

It appears then that the other women left the tomb and Mary Magdalene just outside it, weeping (Jn. 20.11). Perhaps the women began to go to the disciples, as instructed by the angel (Matt. 28.8). Jesus appeared to Mary, apparently while she was alone (Jn. 20.11-18), at which time she received the additional information about His forthcoming ascension (Jn. 20.17). Mary then ran to catch up with the other women, and together they went to the disciples, where Mary reported these events (Jn. 20.18). Upon hearing again about the resurrection, Peter appears to have returned to the tomb for a second look (Lk. 24.12). Luke has him coming to the tomb alone and departing, “marveling to himself at what had happened.”

This is only one person’s attempt to harmonize the reports from the four gospels. But let’s note a few things that I think are important for the redemptive work of Christ and the character of the Kingdom.

First, John deliberately invokes a garden setting. Mary saw Jesus and supposed Him to be the gardener (Jn. 20.15). Mary is in the garden of death, and the Word of God comes to her, speaking her name. Mary embraces Him, clinging to Him, so great is her love for the Word of God. She is the antitype of Eve, who turned away from the Word of God in the garden of life, and thus brought death to the world. Here, Mary clings to the Word of life, and is appointed to announce the Good News of Jesus’ victory over death and His ascension to glory.

But wait: Peter and John had, by this time, been to the tomb and left. Why didn’t Jesus just tell them Himself? Why wait for them to leave, and then enlist Mary to bring the news? Because in choosing Mary, Jesus reversed the curse of Eden. He made a woman – from the very dregs of womanhood – His herald of the Good News. Paul tells us that sin came into the world by one man, Adam (Rom. 5.12). But he is using Adam as the representative of all people. Jesus chose to reveal Himself first to Mary – first to a woman – who would undo for the apostles and the world the curse that Eve had introduced through her disobedience. Eve ate the apple and gave death to the world. Mary embraced the Bread of Life, and offered it to the disciples, the world, and us.

This is a beautiful, thrilling passage. Spend some time meditating on it, and thank Jesus for the majesty and wisdom and mercy of His redeeming grace.

1. Jesus told the women to rejoice and not be afraid. How are each of those instructions applicable to you in working your Personal Mission Field?

2. Why do you think Jesus first revealed Himself to the women?

3. In what ways is Jesus’ message to the women the same message for us?

“And behold, Jesus met them, saying ‘Hail!’ ” They who sought him out and ran to him deserved to be the first to meet the risen Lord and to hear him say, “Hail.” Thus it happened that Eve’s curse was undone by these women.
Jerome (347-420), Commentary on Matthew 4.28.8-9

Today, Lord, You are sending me into my own Personal Mission Field, so that I…

Pray Psalm 96.1-7, 11-13.
Jesus calls us to proclaim the Good News of His salvation. Pray for the people in your Personal Mission Field, especially those you expect to see today. Ask the Lord to give you something to share with each of them, to encourage them to look to Jesus.

Sing Psalm 96.1-7, 11-13.
Psalm 96.1-7, 11-13 (Mit Freuden Zart: All Praise to God, Who Reigns Above)
Sing to the Lord! O, bless His Name! All nations tell His glory!
Salvation’s tidings loud proclaim; let earth rehearse His story!
For God is greatly to be praised; His throne above all gods is raised!
Fear Him, and sing His glory!

All other gods are idols vain; the Lord created heaven.
Splendor and strength with Him obtain; to Him be glory given!
All fam’lies, praise this mighty Lord! Give strength and glory to His Word;
exalt the Lord of heaven. 

Let heaven sing with lusty voice; let earth and sea sing sweetly!
Let fields and trees in Him rejoice, for He is coming swiftly
to judge the world in righteousness, the peoples in His faithfulness.
He comes; exalt Him greatly!

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore