The Angels of Easter

What supporting role did angels have in the story of Easter?

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Other angels appear as the story progresses that first Easter morning. These angels did not have the blazing glory of the first angel, but they were immediately recognizable as angels. John 20:12 reports that Mary Magdalene saw “two angels in white” inside the tomb. Mark 16:5 describes an angel as “a young man dressed in a long white robe.”  Luke 24:4 describes “two men…dressed in dazzling robes.” The angels were not dressed in ordinary clothes, but they were “shining men” immediately recognizable as angels.

An angel’s primary role is to be a messenger. After the first angel makes his spectacular entrance and rolls away the stone, he gives the first message of Easter to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. The angel said, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." (Matthew 28:6-8)

In Mark 16:6-7, the angel spoke to Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome: "Don't be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'”

Luke tells how Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, and others were puzzled when they found the tomb empty.  Suddenly, two angels dressed in dazzling robes appeared and said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:5-7) 

Certainly, the “Easter angels” performed their supporting roles well. They rolled the stone away from the tomb’s entrance, invited the faithful to witness the empty tomb, explained the significance of the resurrection, and gave instructions from Jesus about what his followers were to do next. Then, the angels disappeared after accomplishing their supporting roles. They had pointed to the mighty God in the resurrection, so their work was done. How like the angels!

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Timeline for the Appearance of Angels on Easter Morning

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William D. Webber
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