From: All God’s Angel
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from Heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” (Matthew 28:1-7; Mark 16:1-6)
Through centuries of human history, angels had been dispatched by God to fulfill all kinds of duties and to deliver all kinds of messages. But from the time that death became the curse of our mortal condition (“You are dust, and to dust you shall return,” Genesis 3:19), no duty or message had been more vital than the one carried out early that Sunday morning in a quiet garden just outside Jerusalem. In fact, every duty and every message of every angel had been one long preparation for the events of that day. Sitting atop the evidence of his handiwork – the rolled-back boulder door of a freshly opened tomb – an angel spoke the message above all messages: “He is not here; for he has been raised.”
We are not told which angel received this ultimate assignment, which called for unimaginable solemnity and joy, as well as seismic strength. The first step of the job is to open the tomb, not because Jesus needs a way to get out but because a couple of women need a way to get in. They are to be the world’s first witnesses to something Heaven already knows. The last angel given gate duty was assigned to keep a way shut and sealed (remember Genesis 3:24). This angel (what if it is the same one?) is to remove the obstacle blocking our first new glimpse of paradise.
Matthew says that God’s messenger is dressed for the occasion too, as bright as lightning and as white as snow. The sight is enough to paralyze the Roman guards charged with seeing that Jesus’s body stays in the grave where it was put. They failed.
The resurrection of Jesus; the conquest of death; the defeat of the devil; the annulment of the curse; the redemption of all humanity: all of these are summed up in a single breath, with just a few words spoken by the mouth of an angel. We cannot fully equate human emotions with angelic feelings. Since they have no sin, the angels know nothing of fear and doubt, or the joy and lightheartedness of being forgiven. Nevertheless, Jesus spoke about the angels’ great rejoicing over the repentance of a single sinner, so it is safe to say they know something of happiness and triumph (perhaps better than we do). Imagine for a moment, then, this angel’s anticipation while awaiting the arrival of the women, and the sheer delight at seeing them as they first appeared on the pathway. Was there a thought like, “Wait till they see this – wait till they hear this”? Even if only with our imaginations, it is helpful from time to time to look at these wondrous events through eyes different from our own. What does the angel see that morning? What is the view from atop that stone rolled away from the tomb?