CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!
EASTER READING AND REFLECTION -
Matthew 28:1-20 -
We’ve come to the end of our journey, and the beginning of a new one. The 40 days of Lent end on Holy Saturday, and here is Matthew’s version of Easter for our final reflection. We hope this on-line Lenten pilgrimage through a gospel has enriched your Easter preparations as much as it has ours.
The Final Verdict comes in. Despite the events of the recent days, God shows that Jesus was/is the true King of life, not the cultural/political/religious powers. This decision comes from on high, and Matthew gives us a wonderful, cosmic picture. An earthquake, an angel with the appearance “of lightning”, the stone rolled away. Fittingly, the (Roman) guards who had been placed at the tomb to ensure the dead Jesus stayed there “became like dead men.” Their god was dead as God validates Jesus, and all he taught and stood for, by raising him from death. He stands astride the Kingdom of God, which he had so constantly demonstrated.
There were doubters in Matthew’s day (remember he wrote 2 generations after the fact), both within (v. 17) and beyond (vv. 11-15) the early Christian community. Matthew names both, but leaves the magnificent closing scene to the resurrected Christ. Verses 18-20 should be underlined in every Bible. Jesus, the true King raised in power, claims his authority and gives his followers through the ages our marching orders: “Go everywhere…make disciples… baptize… teach. I am with you always.”
Note that Matthew leaves things open ended. Jesus doesn’t leave, and hasn’t. The ongoing Lordship of Jesus was clearly felt in Matthew’s early Christian community, as it is today. And this is the final vindication by God of the man of Nazareth – he reigns in our hearts, and in our collective hearts, while Rome is long gone. May we all experience that vindication, that Final Verdict, that resurrection in our hearts and spirits as Easter dawn breaks tomorrow, and never ends.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Happy Easter.
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.”
11 While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”