Matthew 28:1-8 Back from the Dead? Really? (Easter Sunday)

31 03 2013

 

Empty-tomb

“After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.  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.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.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.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.” Matthew 28:1-8 (NRSV)

I find it hard to imagine being one of these women.  Their beloved Teacher was brutally murdered and the last they’d seen of Him is when His body was wrapped and placed in the tomb to be buried.

To come to His grave to pray and mourn was probably almost more than they could bear.

Then to be told,”He is not here, He is raised,” would have seemed to be too good to be true.

This account speaks to the cynic in me.  I’ve never seen an angel in real life as far as I know, and people don’t just raise themselves from the dead. I would have a really hard time taking this guy seriously, whether he claimed to be of the heavenly host or not.

I could see me being more like the disciple, Thomas.  I’d be the one wanting see-it-for-myself proof.

“But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’  Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.'” John 20:24-29 (NRSV)

I have a hard time taking others’ words for anything.  Because I am skeptical and cynical and stubborn by nature, I see exactly where Thomas is coming from.  My response to those who promise monumental deeds or fundamental change is generally, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

skeptic

This is where a good number of people out in today’s world stand as far as Christianity.  As a person with more than a few atheist/agnostic friends, if the topic touches upon my faith, they ask me questions such as:

“Who cares about some Jewish dude who supposedly came back from the dead 2000 years ago?”

“What does the “Kingdom of God” mean today when there is so much suffering and evil and corruption in this world?”

I don’t have any scientifically acceptable answers to that question.  There is all kind of suffering and evil and corruption in today’s world.  I can’t even begin to explain how a person like me ever was able to come to faith in God, or what value God sees in an obscure purveyor of automotive parts in an obscure part of the world, let alone why the Son of God would die for someone as inconsequential as me.  It is by the grace of God in Christ alone, and that’s the only answer I have.

godsgrace

I’m not a theologian or a scholar or anybody important, but I do pray that by the grace of God I can help build His Kingdom here on earth, and that by His grace maybe I can show someone else what that Kingdom looks like.

That is the message of the empty tomb, for those of us who believe to go out and live in a manner that reflects that faith- even though we have not seen the wounds in His hands, His side and His feet- we still know that Jesus is Who He says He is- the Risen Son of the Living God.

he-is-risen