After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb.
Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God's angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and then sat on it.
Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white.
The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn't move.
The angel spoke to the women: "There is nothing to fear here. I know you're looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross.
He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed.
"Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, 'He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.' That's the message."
The women, deep in wonder and full of joy, lost no time in leaving the tomb. They ran to tell the disciples.
Then Jesus met them, stopping them in their tracks. "Good morning!" he said. They fell to their knees, embraced his feet, and worshiped him.
Jesus said, "You're holding on to me for dear life! Don't be frightened like that. Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee, and that I'll meet them there."
Meanwhile, the guards had scattered, but a few of them went into the city and told the high priests everything that had happened.
They called a meeting of the religious leaders and came up with a plan: They took a large sum of money and gave it to the soldiers,
bribing them to say, "His disciples came in the night and stole the body while we were sleeping."
They assured them, "If the governor hears about your sleeping on duty, we will make sure you don't get blamed."
The soldiers took the bribe and did as they were told. That story, cooked up in the Jewish High Council, is still going around.
Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion.
The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.
Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you:
Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age."