A Contrast between Unbelieving Soldiers and Believing Women

“And looking upward they observed that the stone had been rolled away (and it was very large). But when they entered into the tomb, they saw a young man sitting to the right hand, dressed in white clothing and they were alarmed.”

(Mark 16:4-5)

“So, they entered, but did not find the body of the Lord Jesus and as they became confused about this, behold, two men came to them in gleaming apparel.”

(Luke 24:3-4)

As we noted above, Luke points out that there was a second angel involved in this pronouncement. Interestingly, these angels are described as being like “young men,” but what sets them apart is there bright-white clothing. Why is this important? It is important because never once are these angels described as having wings nor are they described as being effeminate (as angels in the west are typically depicted). Indeed, there are angels described as having wings — notably the Cherubim and Seraphim — but those angels are more beastly and fearsome; here we have young men described.

Why is this important? First, it is a reminder as to how often we have images in our mind of things that are based more on western culture than they are built on Biblical teachings. Secondly, there is a good chance, given the description, that these are the two “young men” who accompanied the Angel of Yahweh when he met with Abraham in Genesis 18. Presuming that to be the case, it can be speculated that these two angels are quite possibly Michael and Gabriel. Given that they are not specifically named, we ought not be overly dogmatic about the names of these angels; nevertheless, a connection seems reasonable.

What is of greater significance, though, is the contrast between the response of the unbelieving guards and the response of these women. True, they are confused at what they see, but the abject terror of these angelic beings has not fallen on the women as it did on the guards stationed outside. Here is the distinction between those who have faith and those who do not have faith — the fear of the Lord that the believer has causes us to tremble in the presence of the Holy One, but it draws us closer; the fear of the Lord that the unbeliever has is one that brings terror and dread — it destroys and is not built up (nor can it be something that builds. So may we have such faith that always draws us near to Christ in awe and reverence.

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