Afraid, Yet Filled with Joy
That’s right; I said it.
This year, I’ll be celebrating Easter with a single verse from Matthew.
You see, our church has worked through Matthew’s Gospel over the past year. Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and we’ll be ending our series in the last chapter of Matthew, chapter 28.
As I studied this week, a single phrase from a single verse kept piercing my heart and my mind. Get your Bible out and put your finger on verse 8 of chapter 28:
“So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.” (28:8) And in particular, the phrase “Afraid, yet filled with joy.”
This week, I’ll definitely make reference to a few verses from chapter 28. But the women’s emotional state is the focus. Don’t be surprised when I keep coming back to verse 8.
To gain a full perspective of this verse, I had to ask myself a few important questions.
1. How do other translations read?
Verse 8 may read differently for you, depending on which translation you’re using. Here’s a few options for reference:
- “So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.” (ESV)
- “And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.” (NASB)
- “So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.” (NKJV)
- “The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message.” (NLT)
- “The women, deep in wonder and full of joy, lost no time in leaving the tomb. They ran to tell the disciples.” (The Message)
2. What do the other Gospels say?
Obviously, all 4 Gospels include the resurrection account. However, only Mark’s Gospel has an equivalent statement directly related to what we read in Mt. 28:8.
In Mark 16 also verse 8, he describes the state of the women in this way: “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”
3. What about commentaries?
Because this verse and the phrase fascinated me so much this week, I sought out some commentaries. Here’s what I found written about the fearful joy that these women were experiencing.
First from Matthew Henry:
- “What frame and temper of spirit they were in; They departed with fear and great joy; a strange mixture, fear and joy at the same time, in the same soul. To hear that Christ was risen, was matter of joy; but to be led into his grave, and to see an angel, and talk with him about it, could not but cause fear. It was good news, but they were afraid that it was too good to be true.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)
Here’s another quote, but this time from theologian Jon Gill.
- “with fear and great joy: a mixture of both these; with fear and dread, because of the vision they had seen, and with joy at the news of Christ’s resurrection; and yet in this their faith might not be so confirmed, as to have no doubt about it: they might fear the body was taken away, and removed to some other place, and that this they had seen might be a deception and a delusion. However, between both joy and fear, they set out,” (Jon Gill’s Exposition of the Bible)
Celebrating Easter with a Single Verse from Matthew
Regardless of the translation, Gospel account or commentary we read about verse 8, it’s clear that these two women were simultaneously afraid, yet also filled with joy.
These women were both in a state of fear and happiness. How can this be?
Join the Conversation, Leave Your Thoughts
Why is this fearful joy significant? Why is it important to the resurrection account?