DEVOTIONAL GUIDE: Surprised by an angel
Surprises in life are an opportunity to rely on God's promises.
Someone said, “I don't like surprises. I am afraid of them because surprises are either too good to believe, or too bad to accept.”
Like them or not, surprises are inevitable in this world. God gives us some surprises throughout our lives.
The one consistent element in the gospel accounts of the first Easter morning is that everyone was surprised. No one expected an empty tomb, much less the presence of the risen Christ.
The women who came to the tomb had good reason to be surprised. They had watched Jesus die. Those women stood by the cross and watched as his body was removed from the cross and taken away for burial. They had followed Joseph to the tomb. They had heard the heavy thud of the stone that was rolled in front of the opening. They knew Jesus was dead. Then they departed for home.
On Sunday morning, they resolved to honor one last time the man they had followed. They prepared embalming spices and perfumes to anoint his body. Here they are at the tomb to find it open wide and empty.
They were surprised, confused and puzzled. The death and burial already took a toll on them; now the body is not there. They probably felt defeated and devastated. It is difficult to hold on to the promises of God in times of grief and devastation.
Then out of the darkness, comes the sound of the angel. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen” (Matthew 28:5-6).
God knows what we are going through. He knows what we are looking for. We want the old Jesus back, or at least his body back, so that we can anoint him. But God has a better plan. Jesus has a transformed body now, that does not need anointing with spices.
Easter celebrates good news hidden in surprising places. On Easter morning, the women were surprised to encounter a risen Christ in the midst of their sorrow and tears.
At times we think that God has forgotten us, but God promises to find us even in the darkest valleys and the farthest corners.
We should not be surprised to discover God wherever we need Him most. In hospital rooms and nursing homes, in moments of fear and worries, in times of disagreement and confusion, God astonishes us with grace and love.
When medical tests reveal some type of rare disease that invaded your body and you find out that it is terminal, the Easter story gives hope. Because Jesus rose again, we have reason to believe that he can and will rescue us.
We may be going through personal experiences of pain and sorrow. We may be pricked by the thorns of questions, doubts, and uncertainties; but let us hold on to God’s promises.
Because of Easter, we can look for the buds of new life. With hope and faith, our pain and suffering will end in new life. That is God’s promise at Easter.
Pastor Tim Wilson serves at Park Rapids Assembly of God.