Resurrection of Our Lord (Matthew 28:1-10)

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  Good news beyond comprehension. That’s what Jesus’ resurrection was.  Mary of Magdala and Mary, the mother of James, go to the tomb after resting on the Sabbath.  They come with burial spices to complete what was taken care of with haste as the sun set on Friday.  It wasn’t fitting that their beloved Teacher not be given the honor of a reverent burial and His followers given the dignity of mourning.  But there were the authorities, the seal on the tomb, and the guard posted. What else could they do?

But then something happened which neither of them saw coming: a great earthquake shook the ground and an angel appeared to roll back the stone.  In fear, the Roman soldiers became like dead men, and it was such a fearful sight that the women also needed to be told twice, “Do not be afraid!”

Everything stood against this being possible—the rejection by the highest authorities, the corruption of justice under Gentile dogs, the scourging, the jeering at the cross, how he was marred beyond human semblance as he could barely cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps. 22:1), and how He breathed His last and was laid into a tomb.  Earthly rulers, natural law, and experience all told the story that death and evil had won the day as Jesus was laid into the tomb. 

It’s such surpassingly good news that it needs to be told very simply and repeatedly.  In short sentences, the Angel delivers the message: “I know you seek Jesus the Crucified One. He is not here. He has risen as He said.  Come, see the place where He lay. And go quickly, say to his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ And behold, He goes ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.”  Short but true messages, “See, I have told you.”  And they do go, filled with fear and great joy.

It takes a while for this incomprehensible news to sink in, until they meet Jesus face-to-face on the way.  Then they can see with their own eyes, and hold Him with their own hands.  This is most certainly true.  This is not a myth to be handed down and closely guarded lest the world find out it was actually just a fable (Mt. 28:11-15).

God does not lie.  Everyone else may be questionable, but not God or His messengers.  With Him, you don’t need to worry if He is only telling you the part of the story He wants you to know.  He deals with us honestly and in love.  Unlike the news media, with God you don’t have to wonder about bias of the author or if outside interests are directing what He says.  When He grants “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Mt. 28:18) to His Son, you don’t need to wonder if this is overreach or a plot to grab power while people are vulnerable.  God does not lie, nor does He commit evil.

So, revel in this good news: Death has been beaten!  Sin has been put away!  There is peace with God through the risen Jesus Christ.  “Set your minds on” (Col. 3:2) this fact, when you hear news of rising death tolls.  Life and death are fully in God’s hands, and for all who belong to the Risen Christ death is no more than departing the toils of this world.   Remember God’s angel who said: “He has been raised from the dead” when you hear of the frantic search for a vaccine, that God has the antidote for death itself in His Son!  When you worry what earthly leaders will do that impacts our ability to gather for worship, remember the seal and the watch which could not keep the disciples out, and remember our Lord’s own words: “You would have no authority over me unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:11)   And finally, when you encounter those who, out of fear, are acting obnoxiously, set before your eyes the blood of Jesus, the blood of the covenant which was shed for the sins of all, which cries out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Lk. 23:34)

This good news beyond comprehension is true, even on Easter 2020, when the Church on earth was scattered.  Yet she is forever one in her Lord, who has triumphed forever over sin, death, and all the powers of evil. Amen.

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