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From Fearful to Bold
After the public execution of Jesus, the City of Jerusalem is believed to have been locked down, at least after dark, by the fierce, blood thirsty Roman soldiers. Mary Magdalene, who had been possessed by seven demons before having her life transformed by Jesus, and Mary the mother of Jesus, watched to see where the body was taken – to an unused tomb cut into rock, with entrance closed by a large stone.
Pilate, the Roman governor of Jerusalem, at the behest of Jewish chief priests and Pharisees, ordered a guard of soldiers (believed to be 60 men!) to make the tomb ‘as secure as you know how.’ (Matthew 27:65). The enemies of Jesus made every effort to ensure there would be no fraudulent disappearance of His body, no ‘resurrection’, as Jesus had predicted. (the enemies of Jesus seemed to be more aware of His predictions than His own followers!)
Based on the Gospel accounts of at least Mark and Luke, at least some of the followers of Jesus remained grouped together in mourning, and hiding in fear at an undisclosed location unsure of their future without Jesus.
Sunday morning, after the Sabbath was over, a group of women including Mary, Salome, and Johanna, apparently led by Mary Magdalene, set off for the tomb while it was still dark carrying spices. Mary Magdalene had apparently in her previous occupations learned out to stealthfully keep to the shadows and pass through the locked down city undetected.
The sun rose just as they arrived at the tomb, the Roman guard, apparently shaking in fear for whatever it was that had occurred, offered no resistance as the women entered the premises. The women were shocked and dismayed at what they found - the large stone moved away from the entrance to the tomb, and there was no body in the tomb.
And an angel said to the women ‘do not be afraid…Jesus is not here….go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead…you will see Him…’ (Matthew 28:5-7)
Whatever it was that Mary Magdalene found at the tomb cause her to lose all her fear! Casting aside all caution, Mary Magdalene ran back to the place where disciples had been hiding, fearing for their own lives. The report of Mary and the women was mostly scoffed at by His followers. But whatever it was she said struck a chord with Peter and John, who immediately also cast aside all of their own fear and raced in full daylight to the tomb!
What was it that happened here that caused this terrified and leaderless group of pretty much regular folks to all at once have a unified message, focus and courage as they went about changing the lives of others and the world? All 11 surviving’ apostles (except John) plus Paul went on to be killed as martyrs as they lovingly and fearlessly went about changing the lives of others and the world.
This synopsis is taken from all 4 gospel stories, including the one written by Luke, an historian and physician.