Very early on Sunday, right after the Passover of the Jews and the crucifixion of Jesus, some women who loved Jesus went to visit His tomb and place fragrances on His body. As they approached the tomb they noticed the large stone that guarded the entrance was rolled away. Entering the tomb they saw a bright white robed man sitting in the tomb. The man then said that Jesus was no longer there, but He had risen from the dead!
The man instructed these women to go and tell the disciples of Jesus to meet Him at a designated mountain in the region of Galilee and they would see the risen Jesus. The women then ran out from the tomb and Mark records in verse eight, “for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
These women were trembling meaning they were quivering and shaking at what they had just been told. The word astonishment used here comes from the Greek word ekstasis which sounds like the English word ecstasy which is one of its meanings. By using this Greek word here, Mark is saying these women were quivering and shaking because they were so amazed at this scene in the empty tomb. It was as if they were in a trance or an ecstatic vision because this was such an exciting event. This does not mean these women were hallucinating. Rather Mark is trying to strongly convey how completely astounded these women were at the announcement that Jesus had risen from the dead.
They did not speak a word to anyone they met until they found Peter and the disciples because fear and amazement had so strongly overwhelmed them. These women experienced firsthand the Gospel message from this angel in that empty tomb. They were told to look and see that Jesus was no longer in the grave because God had gave Him life and raised His Son up from the dead. Because of this Jesus has a name that is above all names and all power over death and evil. When the full weight of what had happened hit them they were so struck with astonishment. Their faith was shown because later on we see from the other recorded Gospels that they obeyed this angel and told the disciples and they went to meet the risen Lord on that mountain in Galilee.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is an amazing and trembling fact. These women were so gripped by its reality that it changed their whole being. Sometimes I hear the Gospel preached or presented and you would think it is just a dry historical lecture. Sometimes when people believe the Gospel of Jesus they make a ‘profession of faith’ but their lives never show a true change. But the Gospel of the risen Jesus is a fearful and awe striking reality.
When we truly hear the Gospel it should grip us the same way it gripped these women even though we are not physically seeing this empty tomb. We should tremble and be gripped with astonishment at what God has done for us by raising His Son Jesus from the dead. When we present the Gospel to someone, whether preaching or one-on-one, we must present it as one who has been gripped by its power and amazing message.
Have you been so gripped by the Gospel of Jesus that you felt fear at your own sinfulness before a holy God and trembled before Him? Have you been gripped with amazement and astonishment that God has raised up Jesus from the grave so that we might truly have life eternal? Do you go and tell others about this astonishing Gospel as one who has been personally gripped by its power?