Chances are, you started your day by giving someone this universal greeting. Most researchers of the English language agree the term good derived from “God.” They tell us the daily greeting some 400 years ago would have been “God morning,” meaning, “May you have a God-filled morning and may God be the center of your day.”
Undoubtedly, the morning of the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a “God morning.” At dawn, Mary Magdalene and another disciple named Mary went to Jesus’ tomb. They were met with an empty tomb and the glorious Gospel message from an angel of the Lord:
“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.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples (Matt. 28:5-8 NIV).
The next verse reports Jesus met them and said something powerful and life-transforming to them. This is illustrated in the language of various translations:
• “Behold, Jesus also met them, saying, ‘God save you’” (GNV).
• “Suddenly Yeshua met them and said, ‘Shalom!’” (CJB).
• “Jesus met them and said, ‘Peace be with you’” (GNT).
• “Jesus met them, saying, ‘Receive joy’” (JUB).
• “Just then Jesus met them and said, ‘Good morning!’” (HCSB).
The composite message is, when Jesus greets me with His commanding presence and wonderful revelation that He is alive—and alive forevermore—inherent in that greeting is salvation and resulting peace. The results are redemptive and life-changing! There is joy, filled with the assurance that there will not only be a “good morning,” but a God-filled eternal day.
A Cry of His Conquest
The context and background of this story is filled with defeat and despair. The women were weeping and the men were in hiding behind closed doors. Their hopes were dashed and their future was unsure. They were numb with fear and insecurity. Max Lucado writes:
If ever there was a day of shadows in Christian history—it was a not so Good Friday. It was a day when all light—all hope—seemed to be extinguished. . . . Before the dawn—there is dark.
At dawn on Sunday, “the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy” (Matt. 28:8 NIV). What a mixture of powerful emotions! Then, “suddenly Jesus met them” (v. 9)—some versions say, “Jesus was in their path.”
On the path of life, we may sometimes be perplexed, yet we remain hopeful; there may be times when we are fearful, yet still filled with joy. We may get discouraged, but we stay on the path. In the midst of every challenge, let us be obedient, knowing Jesus is with us. Along their path, the words of the angel stayed with the women.
The “good morning” from Jesus meant their long night was over, and a new day had come—an eternal “God day.” He was in their path with the comforting cry of His conquest, and He walks with us today.
A Call to His Commission
This incident at the outset of Resurrection morning sets the context and tone for the Great Commission, which comes at the close of Matthew 28. In the Resurrection story, one cannot escape the centrality and frequency of “going and telling”:
“Come and see . . . go quickly and tell” (vv. 6-7 NIV).
“Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers” (v. 10 NIV).
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (vv. 18-19 NIV).
Think of a typical Monday morning in the factory or the office. As the workers arrive, there are the halfhearted, yawned expressions of “Good morning.” It is different, however, when the boss enters and says, “Good morning.” At the presence of authority, everybody is suddenly alert, active, on duty, and ready for orders.
The risen Christ is the Lord of the harvest—the Boss. When Jesus shows up, His marching orders come with Him. Over 2,000 years, the good news that ends the night and brings a redemptive “good morning” of purposeful living has spread around the world.
In my years of international missionary service, I have had the privilege of making numerous visits to South Korea, one of the amazing success stories in world evangelization. Christian churches by the thousands dot the Korean landscape. On my most recent trip to the capital city of Seoul, I noted once again the omnipresence of Christian crosses filling the night skyline.
Not only has the Christian message filled that country; faithful Korean missionaries have spread the Gospel around the world, following their countrymen everywhere. There are an estimated 10,000 Korean churches in 180 countries of our world. In addition, their missionaries are taking the light of Jesus to hard places among previously unreached peoples.
The Korean context of missional presence and proclamation was not always so bright. Before the entrance of the Gospel light, their land was gripped by darkness, bondage, and poverty. This came home to me as I visited a monument erected to honor the first American missionaries. It stands next to a large Presbyterian church near the place where the missionaries first set foot on an unevangelized land. A statement on the memorial plaque quotes from the diary of missionary Horace Underwood, written on Easter Sunday 1885:
We came here on Easter. May He who this day burst the bars of the tomb, break the bands that bind this people, and bring them to the light and liberty of God’s children.
Jesus continues to arrest, convict, and call the Church today with His “good morning.” His resurrection presence is an evangelistic reminder that even though He burst the bars of the tomb 2,000 years ago, there remain many unbroken bands in our world today. There is yet more to do—more places and peoples to reach and disciple. When Jesus says, “Good morning,” it is a call to His commission.
A Commitment to Our Care
Because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8 NIV), the accompanying promises of His resurrection are not left in the past but are also valid for today, tomorrow, and forever. He is eternally present with a caring commitment to our welfare.
There is an active, ongoing future tense to Jesus’ saying, “Good morning.” There is the initiation of an eternal forward motion, in which we are blessed with the promise of eternity in His care:
• Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3 NKJV).
• “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2 NKJV).
• David said, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Ps. 23:6 NKJV).
Normally, when we are greeted with a “good morning,” it conveys hopefulness that the new day will be filled with goodness, possibilities, and blessings. Unfortunately, in human terms, “good morning” lasts but for a few hours. Then we have to switch to “good day,” “good evening,” and finally, “good night.”
As young lovers will affirm, it is so hard to say “good night” when it means separation and goodbye. Shakespeare provided the heartfelt lines from Juliet to her Romeo, “Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say ‘good night’ till it be morrow.” Juliet’s pain of a temporary separation of a few hours was eased with the hope of tomorrow.
Many have had the deeper heartache of saying a final, earthly, “good night” to a parent, spouse, or child. Sooner or later, all of us experience the separation and passing of loved ones and the pathos of pain that comes with the end of life.
However, in God’s kingdom terms, as taught and lived out by our Lord Jesus, there is no more final “good evening” or “good night,” but an eternal “good morning” for every child of God. Because of His resurrection, we are living in the benefits of the Lord’s “day of salvation”—God’s chosen day for His people. This life will end, but the promise of the same “good morning” that has carried us through this life continues into our eternal future.
This promise is captured in the words of Revelation 21:4: “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (NIV).
In the midst of the trials of life, let us be encouraged with the promises to the women on Resurrection morning. Let us remember what we have heard and seen (our testimony). Let us move forward with the admonitions of the angel:
1. Don’t be afraid.
2. Keep looking for Jesus.
3. He was crucified, but He is no longer dead; He is alive.
4. “Come and see,” then “go and tell” other disciples.
5. Jesus is alive and He is going before us, preparing the way.
6. We will meet Him.
Dr. Grant McClung is president of Missions Resource Group (MissionsResourceGroup.org) and international missionary educator with Church of God World Missions.
March 2016, Evangel Magazine