– by Nicholas T. Batzig –
There is almost no more exciting biblical-theological truth with which we can occupy our minds as we come to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday as that which we find in the Gospel of John about the Angels inside the empty tomb. What transpired on that first day of the week on which the Savior ushered in the new creation was nothing less than the fulfillment of the eternal plan of God for the redemption of His people. It is fitting then that we find echoes of the Old Covenant revelation of God to His people in the Gospel records about the resurrection of Jesus. One such account is that about Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the Angels at the garden tomb. John tells us that when Mary stooped to look into the tomb, “she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet” (John 20:11-12).
Throughout the Old Covenant era, the Lord chose to dwell between the cherubim over the mercy seat on the ark of the Covenant. On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would go into the Most Holy Place with the blood of the sacrifice for himself and for the people. He would carry the blood of the sacrifice to the mercy seat, where he would pour the blood–thereby symbolizing that the blood was covering the people’s transgressions of the Law of God (which was contained in the Ark) from before the presence of God (who came and dwelt in between the Angels). When God saw the blood, He came and dwelt over the mercy seat. This, of course, was an earthly picture of the heavenly glory. It was a symbolic pictorial for the people of God to understand something of the heavenly reality. It was also crying out for God to restore the glory that man lost when he sinned against God and forfeited the presence of God with him on earth. This was all prefiguring the restoration of the glory of God with man in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Puritan, Richard Sibbes, in his sermon A Heavenly Conference Between Christ and Mary made the following redemptive-historical observation: