As the youngest sibling, I was subject to many cruel practical jokes from my older brothers and sisters. One Easter we were hunting Easter Eggs, and my brothers seemed very helpful. They kept pointing out eggs for me to find. Then they excitedly pointed to a brightly colored egg with black stripes. I dashed towards it, failing to notice my brothers’ sniggers. My hand extended, I reached toward the egg and the prize when an alarm sounded in my brain: something was dreadfully wrong with this egg!
My brothers had found a small black snake. They killed it and then wrapped it around the egg, leaving a surprise for their little brother.
I screamed, I dropped my Easter basket, I ran. I heard their laughter. I realized it was a joke – and the joke was on me. My face flushed and I died a little of embarrassment. I never hunted Easter eggs again.
My brothers, feeling some guilt (and prompted by my mother, I’m sure), tried to comfort me by telling me, “You had nothing to worry about. The snake was already dead.”
Did you ever notice the message of the angel at the tomb to the women: “Fear not.” An odd message, don’t you think?
These women are present as the world turns upside down. They see an angel for the first time (“His appearance was like lighting and his clothes were white as snow”). Soldiers were lying on the ground, knocked out. A heavy stone is out of place. Most of all, their teacher who was dead yesterday, is missing. It has all the elements for fear – for panic, even.
What is the angel saying to them? Could he be thinking of another snake – the old deceiver, Satan, who ages ago persuaded a woman that fear was to be trusted – the fear that God wasn’t fair; the fear that something was being held back that was really good; the fear that in the garden of perfection something was missing? The woman took that fruit, ate, gave some to her husband, and the world turned upside down. The world went in completely different direction than God intended.
Maybe the angel was telling them, “Fear not. The world has started to turn right side up. Jesus has won. Death that entered the world no longer controls you. The snake that tried to hold the Savior has been cut off from His power over you. Fear not.”
In the rich truth of Easter, this is one more lesson – Reach out your hand. There is grace, not a snake. Fear not.
 I have gotten even with my siblings through the years by writing stories about them, using them as sermon illustrations and the like. Some of the stories I tell are even true.