The “Fourth Week”: Week Twenty-Seven/Session One.
Theme: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Our reading for today: Matthew 28: 1-10.
After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb. Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God’s angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and then sat on it. Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn’t move. The angel spoke to the women: “There is nothing to fear here. I know you’re looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as He said. Come and look at the place where He was placed. Now, get on your way quickly and tell His disciples, ‘He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there.’ That’s the message.”
The women, deep in wonder and full of joy, lost no time in leaving the tomb. They ran to tell the disciples. Then Jesus met them, stopping them in their tracks. “Good morning!” He said. They fell to their knees, embraced His feet, and worshiped Him. Jesus said, “You’re holding on to Me for dear life! Don’t be frightened like that. Go tell My brothers that they are to go to Galilee, and that I’ll meet them there.” (Matthew 28: 1-10 MsgB)
Easter Sunday. Pre-dawn in a burial cave just outside the walls of Jerusalem. 33 AD.
Something astounding is happening here. But from reading all four Gospel narratives, no one, at this point in time, seems to be sure on exactly what. It is clear, from Matthew’s writings, that a few folks are starting to get it. Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, seem to be the first to hear the strange news that Jesus is risen from the dead. But as you’ll see from the scriptures we are pondering this week, not everyone is so astute to this amazing burst of life that is happening amongst the tombs where only the dead are buried.
But here’s the truth.
While most of the world was sleeping and even His most loyal disciples were hunkered away in hiding, God, the Father, was busy transforming His universe through the powerful resurrection of His Son, Jesus of Nazareth. And apparently, only a couple of early-rising mourners along with a handful of Roman soldiers were there to experience it. And according to Matthew, even they kept their eyes closed, frozen in fear as their world rocked and rolled underneath their feet.
Suddenly an angel of light appears. And just as it was in Bethlehem thirty-three years and nine-months earlier, this angel once again has exciting news to share with a Mary, and her other friend, Mary.
Fear not. The story isn’t over. As a matter of fact, the real story is just beginning. The deeper truth is finally here. The Son of God, who was given so that the whole world might have joy, is no longer dead, but has risen from the grave, just as He told you He was going to be!
I love the way Eugene Peterson, author of The Message Bible, transliterates this passage in Matthew’s gospel…
“He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there. That’s the message.”
As I see it, this news that Jesus has risen from the grave is still the primary message we Christians have to tell both ourselves and the rest of the world. In other words…
Jesus is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of all of us. We will all see Him there.
Yup. That says it pretty well, doesn’t it? The risen Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, is alive and well and has gone on ahead of us. He will meet up with us at the end of this age. He’ll be there waiting for all of us when we arrive. And, without a doubt, we’ll all see Him there and then. And every knee will bow to the One and Only. The Risen Christ. The Now and Forever Savior. The Alpha and Omega. Amen and amen. Now that makes for one pretty exciting Message, don’t you think?
My prayer: Jesus, Your resurrection from the dead is still this world’s best message we could ever hear! Forgive me, Father, when I would ever grow tired or complacent with this important, world-transforming message. You are indeed risen from the dead, and that, Lord Jesus, changes everything! For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: How have I allowed the freshness of this Gospel Good News to become dry or crusty in my life? What steps do I need to take in my own life to re-fresh and re-new the importance of this resurrection story so that it becomes the greatest message for me, my family, and my friends?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?
Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!
To go onto the next journal entry…click here.