As Sunday morning dawned Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went back to the graveyard. Just then there was an earthquake – the ground shaking as a messenger from God rolled the stone from the mausoleum entrance and sat down on it. His snow white robes sparked with raw energy, and at the sight of him the goons standing guard passed out from fear.
The messenger said to the women, "Don't be afraid. I know, you came to see the crucified Jesus. But he's not here; he's alive again, just like he said he would be. Look, that's where he was, right there.
"Go now, and tell his apprentices he's alive and on his way to Anytown. You can catch up with him there. That's the message."
Our word angel is a transliteration of the Bible's Greek angelos. It's a messenger, or perhaps an emissary or ambassador. Biblical depictions of angels – messengers of God – are never cutesy. They appear other-worldly, wield unimaginable power, and they are fearsome. The goons standing guard have no chance. It's a great story, but the appearance of the messenger is not really exceptional.
What is exceptional is these two women, one of them with a reputation for dishonorable living, and the other given no last name at all, so that we cannot be sure even of who she is – the messanger entrusts the whole future of the Jesus project to these two women. This, in a time and culture where women were not seen as fit to testify as reliable witnesses to anything. Let alone these two women. The other-worldly being, sparking with raw energy, commissions these two women to be the next divine messengers in the chain of transmission.
And the message: Jesus is alive and you'll catch up to him in Anytown. Which is to say, you'll catch up with Jesus whereever it is you call "back home".
From this moment, the baton has been passed. Other-worldly power is no longer a necessary qualification for bearing a divine message; anyone can be a divine emissary. And the Jesus project is no longer bound to a specific place or time, but is free to play itself out anywhere it's unlikely messengers may go.