Preaching to the Choir

These are some sermons, but mostly lectionary discussions. It also has prayers for some Sundays.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Matthew 28:1-10

In Matthew's account the women were the main characters.
They saw fearful things, heard words from an angel,
and finally ran into Jesus himself!

On Friday, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James (“the other Mary”) have seen Jesus’ body laid in the tomb, the stone door sealed, and a guard mounted. Now, soon after dawn on Sunday morning (“the first day of the week”) they return to “see” and probably to mourn. The angel commissions the women to tell the disciples of Jesus' resurrection and to let them know that they shall see him in Galilee. the risen Jesus appears to the two women as they are on their way to tell the disciples. This is actually a strange turn of events. The angel’s reassuring words in 28:5 presuppose that the women, like the guards, are initially afraid; but in v. 8 we find that their fear is now accompanied with “great joy” as they run to carry out their commission. The angel has just commissioned them (28:7), and now Jesus blocks their path. They recognize and worship him. The reason that they take hold of his feet might simply be a gesture to assure them that he is not a detached spirit, but the actual Jesus. These women are the first witnesses to his resurrection.

So what do we do with this emphasis on the women in the Resurrection Story? Does it take away from the resurrection of Jesus? Does it add to it? Is Matthew using some kind of code language? In the birth of Jesus, all sorts of people were included that normally would have been in the background somewhere. Women especially have their stories told. Mary, the mother of Jesus, has much told about her then and now. So what is the gospel getting across to us? What are we to make of the women's involvement?

Again, I think that the good news is radical. Jesus is radical. The resurrection is radical. And to show the radical nature of the good news, the women are emphasized here. But you know it could be a simple as the men ran away and hid, the women came to do what women are to do and were in the right place at the right time. It would be like God to do that. And finally what if the point is the resurrection was for everybody, who believe, not just a select few?

Picture from Orthodox online


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