Via Dolorosa – Angels & Earthquakes
It was a quick answer to a non-prayer. That sometimes happens. God eavesdrops. The two Marys were merely thinking out loud together regarding the problem of a sealed tomb and burly guards when the ground beneath their feet began to shake. Each gospel writer gives a slightly different account of what came next, which is just fine by me. It is like taking a picture from a number of different positions and angles. The true image is given when it is all pieced together.
Three of the gospels mention an angelic encounter. Angels are not to be trifled with. They can move big stones from the inside of a tomb and they can cause the ground to shake. Because of their spectral countenance, very few meetings between these heavenly messengers and us earthlings begin all that well. Typically we find the human hastily making purchase with the ground with his or her face and the angel saying something along the lines of, “Fear not.” So, as Mary and Mary spot the open tomb they are suddenly met with a dazzling figure: Then they looked up, saw that it had been rolled back—it was a huge stone—and walked right in. They saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed all in white. They were completely taken aback, astonished. He said, “Don’t be afraid. Mark 16:4-6
As I’ve mentioned, the positions and the number of angels vary from gospel account to gospel account. Scholars have long ago reconciled the reports and it is not necessary for our purposes to labor through all of that. What is striking to me is that it was now the angels who were watching and waiting. After they had tidied up the task of blowing the stone from the entrance to the tomb, they were on the lookout for the two Marys. The love that had led these ladies to the very foot of the cross would now meet with the honor of being the first human ears to hear that Jesus had indeed kept his word. He was back.