Fear and Joy

There is so much happening in the last chapters of Matthew, that it is easy to miss little details along the way. In the resurrection account that we looked at last week, one verse hit me differently than it has in the past. The women make the difficult walk to the tomb and are shocked to find it empty. Instead an angel is there with the standard angel message not to fear and another message that changes everything: “He is not here. He is risen.” They are told to take that message to the disciples, then verse 8 gives us insight into what those women were feeling. “So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.”
Fear and joy: that is an interesting combination. It will be a combination felt by the followers of Jesus over the coming days as they learn of the resurrection and encounter Him in person. Before that, they are likely in a time of despair as it seems their world has fallen apart. They probably do not know where to go, what to do or who to follow. Then Jesus shows up and changes everything. Again. What seemed impossible was possible because of the power of the resurrection. It offered those disciples who had run away the chance to begin again. That new beginning brought great joy and at least a little fear.
God also gives us the opportunity to begin again. Our reaction to that news might be the same as theirs: fear and joy. We are joyful to put the past behind us. We are joyful to know that failures and mistakes do not have to be permanent. We might also be fearful because that takes away the excuses about why we cannot do it. With His help we are able to change our actions and attitudes. He is able to change our hearts. When we follow His message to not fear, we can have the joy He promises.
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” – Isaiah 43:1
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23

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