Just As He Said
Read: Matt. 27:62- 28: 7
He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:6
When Mary Magdalene and another woman named Mary approached Jesus’ grave, they weren’t expecting to be chided by a celestial being.
The messenger angel does his job well and delivers all the essential information. But the phrase “just as he said” is at best, a reminder, and at worst, a version of “I told you so.” Coming from realms unbounded by space or time, did the angel wonder at the forgetfulness of humans? Maybe he spoke his message as a gentle nudge to those he recognized as made a little lower than himself. Or maybe he was incredulous at the incredulty of humans - at the frailty of our faith.
Ironically, the Roman contingency remembered Jesus’ promised resurrection and they anticipated his absence from the grave, though not because they believed he’d actually rise from the dead. They simply wanted to make sure that Jesus’ believers didn’t set things up to look like a resurrection - and thank goodness they were skeptical. The stone being sealed and the guards being posted only adds to Jesus’ credibility.
And that’s what this passage is all about.
“Just as he said” implies that the disciples needed a reminder of what Jesus promised to do because, for whatever reason, they didn’t expect it. Wedged between all the apprehensions that come with the unexpected, Mary Magdalene along with all the others, thought the unexpected was a bad thing. But the empty tomb was only unexpected because they weren’t prepared for it. For whatever reason, the disciples didn’t immediately connect what Jesus said with what he did.
How many times in the past week have we defaulted to panic or worry, only to have things work out - the connection to our hastily spoken prayers forgotten? How often do we ask God to intervene, then go forward with our own plans anyway? I find that I need to reflect on the phrase “Just as he said” to activate a latent faith.
Maybe the disciples forgot Jesus’ words.
Maybe they misunderstood.
Maybe they thought Jesus was talking about something else entirely.
On our expedition to Easter this year, let’s intentionally remember what Jesus said when we’re apt to forget, and let’s expect the unexpected.