Written by Mark C. Pederson, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church
“The Lord Is Risen!” “He is risen indeed!” What could be easier than preaching on Easter? It is such a joyful day of celebration, of family gatherings, egg hunts, beautiful dresses and handsome suits. But it’s not so easy for preachers. Mostly it is difficult to find a new angle, to approach the resurrection with new eyes and get new insights from this remarkable, life-changing event.
The devotional written on the Working Preacher website is so helpful. (I would recommend that you go and read it:
Holly Hearon points out some aspects of the Matthew resurrection account I have never even thought about before. These women (women at the tomb are the universal detail of every account), come empty handed. They are not there to burry Jesus, they simply come to “see”. They are not surprised by the resurrection; they seem to have been living in joyful anticipation of it. Matthew admits, here towards the very end of his Gospel, that it is these very women who have been supporting Jesus’ ministry all along. They have been “diakonei”. You might recognize the root of that Greek word. The angels do it for Jesus after his wilderness testing. Peter’s mother does it for Jesus and the disciples after she is healed of her illness. The disciples are never accused of it, but have benefited from it all along.
They come to the tomb to see. The word for see can also mean to understand, to gain understanding. They have been quietly in the background working to support this movement and this itinerant rabbi and his crew. They kept their distance, but were eyewitnesses to the crucifixion, and now they alone have shown up at the tomb to experience the promises that Jesus made before his death. You remember these promises, don’t you? That the son of man will be lifted up and killed and on the third day rise. The women had actually been listening; the men apparently had no clue. They are not to be found on this auspicious day. We can only guess that they are hiding.
Now there is a great twist in the story. These meek, faithful women come to the tomb and experience an earthquake and a powerful light. They STAND in anticipation of what will come next. These are strong women! Earthquakes are scary events (and hard to stand through). They stand. Jesus is announced as being alive. The strong, macho guards are reduced to fainting spells and appear as though they are dead. Now the women are given the task of evangelism. “Go and tell his disciples, (ironically, go and tell his evangelists!) the Good News. That is the very definition of an evangelist, one who brings the Good News. I’d never noticed this detail before. This is the birth of women as carriers of the Good News of the Gospel. The fact that it took mainline Christian denominations one thousand, nine hundred and sixty some years to reach the same conclusion is beside the point. Here are faithful women, exactly where Jesus told his disciples to be. They are then given the important task of proclaiming the good news of the resurrection. They are the first to ever do so.
Apparently the Christian Church has never been able to survive without faithful women. It was true of the church at its very inception, and it is true today.
Quotes for the Week
“Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord’s Prayer is about.” N.T. Wright
If you live in the dark a long time and the sun comes out, you do not cross into it whistling. There’s an initial uprush of relief at first, then-for me, anyway- a profound dislocation. My old assumptions about how the world works are buried, yet my new ones aren’t yet operational. There’s been a death of sorts, but without a few days in hell, no resurrection is possible.” Mary Karr
“Faithfulness to the past can be a kind of death above ground. Writing of the past is a resurrection; the past then lives in your words and you are free.” Jessamyn West
“…left to ourselves we lapse into a kind of collusion with entropy, acquiescing in the general belief that things may be getting worse but that there’s nothing much we can do about them. And we are wrong. Our task in the present…is to live as resurrection people in between Easter and the final day, with our Christian life, corporate and individual, in both worship and mission, as a sign of the first and a foretaste of the second.” N.T. Wright
“The symbolic language of the crucifixion is the death of the old paradigm; resurrection is a leap into a whole new way of thinking.” Depak Chopra
“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime. Martin Luther
Lesson: Matthew 28:1-10 (NRSV)
The Resurrection of Jesus
28 After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Questions for the Week
Where do you experience resurrection in this life?
Have you experienced new life when you felt all hope was lost?