Matthew 28:2-7 NLT Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. (3) His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. (4) The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. (5) Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. (6) He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen. Come, see where His body was lying. (7) And now, go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and He is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there. Remember what I have told you.”
The chief priests and Pharisees had convinced Pilate to place guard around the tomb of Jesus in case any of His disciples would come to steal his body because of the statements Jesus had repeatedly made about how He would rise after 3 days. Due to the immense pressure and political tensions around this entire event my guess is that Pilate assigned some of their best soldiers to this assignment. These soldiers were on assignment when a few ladies (Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James & Joses, and Salmone mother of James & John) came to visit the tomb probably to see if they could get in to anoint the bandages and burial cloth of Jesus better and complete the embalming process (Barnes’ Notes).
Then all of a sudden the ground begins to shake, an angel appears, rolls the stone away from the tomb and then sits on it. The guards were so terrified that they fainted at this sight. Yet these female disciples though they were comforted by the angel and told not to fear they didn’t fall to the ground, scream, run, or respond in any ‘natural’ symptom of fear to the supernatural scene before them.
These ladies were well aware of who they believed Jesus was and had been around, witnessing some pretty remarkable things in the countless services, healing, and miracles they had seen. They were more familiar with the supernatural happening in their midst, so when the angel showed up, the earth shook, and he rolled the stone away they didn’t respond in terror. They probably were struck with some Holy Fear, but I suspect it was also accompanied by a great anticipation and excitement of what is going to happen next.
I’m not one that thinks we should go around looking or trying to manufacture the spectacular move of God in our midst, but we certainly should expect it. And when He sends an angel or shows up in a new and remarkable way we shouldn’t be afraid like these soldiers. Instead we should be familiar enough to His presence and His ways that when He shows up in a new way or moves in a way we’ve never seen or experienced before that we 1st recognize His genuine presence and 2nd are filled with anticipation of what God is going to do next. Then you we stand when others faint in fear.