During this resurrection passage in the last chapter of Matthew, the words “fear” and “afraid” are mentioned four times. It is clear that when the full presence of God manifests in our reality, the normal human reaction is fear.
Jesus tells the women, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (v10).
Fear comes in many forms. There is fear of loss. There is fear of being found out. There is fear of failure. But this isn’t the kind of fear Matthew is describing in his gospel. Matthew is talking about reverent fear of that which is holy. It is the fear of feeling powerless and no longer in control in the midst of an all-powerful, all-knowing God. To some that is utterly terrifying fear, to others it is a humbling fear.
Whether we tremble and flee as the guards did, or fall and worship at Jesus’ feet as Mary did, our response to the presence of God reveals our true intentions, where our hope is truly placed.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (v18) Allowing the Fear of God to change us places us into the posture for receiving his authority, his inheritance, and fulfilling the commission he has placed on our lives.