20 April 2014Matthew 28:1-10
“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.’” (v. 7)
On this Easter Day as Matthew's Gospel challenges us with the powerful reality of resurrection churches everywhere join in the ancient liturgy: "Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia."
Jesus has been raised- not quietly but accompanied by an earthquake and an angel of the Lord. Yet the first to hear about it and be tasked with telling his disciples are the women who had stayed with him right through his crucifixion. In a culture where women were not valued, and where they could not be witnesses in a court of law, this is more of God's radical overturning of expectation, hierarchy and culture.
As a teenager I read Michael Green's book The day death died (amazingly according to Amazon new copies of this little paperback are available for over £58 while secondhand copies start at 1p!). That little book explored alternatives to a physical resurrection. In the years since then I have still not read or heard anything to persuade me that any of the alternatives are at all probable.
However, a restricted focus that sees resurrection 'only' as Jesus being raised physically from dead risks seeing resurrection as just a bit of holy magic, almost dismissed from everyday life, relevant only to eternity, to what comes after death.
For Matthew's Gospel resurrection seems to be much more than that. The resurrection of Jesus is not 'just' about defeating death, it is also about defeating exclusion, prejudice, injustice, hopelessness and inequality in the life before death. Hence, for Matthew's Gospel resurrection seems to fit well with the Christian Aid slogan "We believe in life before death" or possibly a revised version "We believe in life before, during and after death".
- Instead of defending resurrection how might it help if we invite others to suggest and defend alternatives?
- What experiences of resurrection have you seen?
- Where is resurrection most needed today?
- Who, where and how is God calling you to go quickly and tell of resurrection this Easter?