In the resurrection accounts at the tomb, we are almost overwhelmed by the presence of God’s holy angels. We find some in the empty tomb itself, others standing beside our beloved disciples, and still another sitting atop the stone which has been rolled away. And unlike the birth of Jesus, which has these angelic beings guiding and inviting the most unlikely characters to Jesus’ birth, we find here angels with a much simpler message. In short, we could summarize the message this way, Jesus is not here.
Of course Jesus has very good reasons for not being there, as the angels will point out. ‘He is risen,’ and we should not look for the living among the dead, but even with these most glorious reasons we have to marvel at the fact that we see at work in the resurrection passages a different side to the angelic host. This is one of those most wonderful times when the role of the guardian angel is on display. Like the mighty angel who guarded the gates to Eden after the fall of man, saying essentially ‘you shall not go this way,’ the angels at the tomb act as a full stop for those who might make the serious error of expecting God to remain in a tomb.
Let us not forget that it had taken centuries for the Israelites to understand with their heads and hearts that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was not bound by time and space, although He could enter into them. But here on Easter morning that old and quite sinister mistake could have been reborn that put the creation on par with the Creator. It was only with the angels, by their powerful presence and clear language at the tomb that put an end to it before it could begin.
It is a marvelous thing to be interrupted in our errors before they ever take route and derail us spiritually. So let us ask our guardian angels to be brutally honest with us even when we don’t want to hear it. And who knows, the words ‘Jesus is not here’ and ‘do not go this way,’ might be precisely what we need today to encounter the risen Lord.