“And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.” Matthew 28:2
Out of my hundred or so cookie cutters (yes, I love baking cookies), there are a few angels. When I sorted the collection several years ago according to seasons/holidays, I tossed the angels into the Christmas bag.
Makes sense, right? Angels are a big part of Christmas. We think of angels announcing Jesus’ birth to Zacharias, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. We put angels on our Christmas trees, dress children up as angels for church musicals, and make snow angels.
Approaching this holy week, though, I’ve thought about how angels play a major role in the Easter story as well. Let’s look at the one who appeared to the two Marys on Easter morning as they ventured toward Jesus’ tomb: And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women,“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” Matthew 28:2-7
For big, burly Roman guards for tremble and faint, this apparition had to be a fearful sight. My cookie cutter angels are sort of cutesy/girly, but I visualize this angel as a fierce, luminescent warrior—much like the magnificent elves depicted in the “Lord of the Rings” movies.
We don’t know this angel’s name, but he was a special messenger tasked by God to announce Jesus’ resurrection—much as Gabriel was sent to Zacharias and Mary. Later, when the women enter the empty tomb, two angels described as “young men” appear “in shining garments” (Luke 24:1-7,) and encourage the women not to be afraid because Jesus had indeed risen from the dead (Mark 16:1-7). At Jesus’ ascension, two angels materialize again with a similar message (Acts 1:10-11).
Actually, angels pop up throughout the Bible. They guard the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24), speak with Abraham (Genesis 22), appear in dreams (Daniel 8), and give visions to prophets (Zechariah 1). They minister to Jesus in the wilderness (Mark 1:13), praise God in heaven (Revelation 4:8), fight in spiritual warfare among the heavenly realms (Daniel 10), and stand guard over us (Psalm 91:11-12).
They are silent on Good Friday—when Jesus could have ordered a dozen legions of angels to rescue Him from imminent death, He chose to sacrifice Himself instead for our sins (Matthew 26:53).
But…on Easter morning, they shout the victory cry—that Jesus has defeated death once and for all, that He has redeemed His people. They will ride with Him as a mighty army on white horses from heaven at the final battle and complete conquest of Satan and his accomplices (Revelation 19).
As you’re looking at all the emblems and symbols of Easter—the cross, the lily, the empty tomb (as well as the secular bunnies and eggs)—remember the angels. They are the supporting actors in the Easter drama, cheering from the sidelines at their Master’s triumph.
Let’s join them in this vast, cosmic celebration known as Easter. Raise your own hallelujah to the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Commander of Angel Armies—Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus Christ, we lift up our song of love to You, our Savior, this Easter. Let us join Your angel choruses, singing of Your great victory over death. We praise You and thank You for taking our sins to the cross, purchasing our redemption, and giving us eternal life with You. Fill us with Your joy on Easter morning, that we may shout our praises with Your angels. In Your blessed name, Amen.
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