Daily Devotion 12 April 2020

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Matthew 28:1-10 ‘The Resurrection of Jesus’

1 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 worshipped 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.’

Wow! Matthew doesn’t hold back does he? Talk about dramatic! By comparison Mark’s Resurrection account is much briefer; Luke is more expansive, giving a succession of resurrection appearances including that wonderful walk to Emmaus; John’s Gospel has the beauty of Mary meeting the gardener and a ‘race’ to the tomb. So what does Matthew, in particular, tell us of that Resurrection Day?

Matthew gives us the full Hollywood blockbuster version, with big-budget pyrotechnics and stunning effects: lightning, a great earthquake, an angel and guards collapsing. In doing so Matthew expresses in his account the cataclysmic change brought about by God raising Jesus from the dead – the very
fabric of reality and space and time torn apart to reveal the power of God over all creation. A 1st Century Palestine reader might have expected, after these events, for the rest of the chapter to follow Jesus triumphantly – maybe to Jerusalem perhaps, the centre of the Jewish World, maybe to one of the major cities like Corinth, Athens – or even on to Rome!

But no, in verse 10 Jesus goes to Galilee to see his friends, to be with his brothers and sisters, to gather them together one more time. Galilee – a place of teaching, calming waves, wedding and wine miracles, feeding friends, and the place where Jesus first called them to be his. I love the way Matthew begins the Resurrection with drama, noise, incredulity and miracle: Jesus is alive! Yet these give way to the simplicity and beauty of God’s presence: God with us; Jesus Christ Lord of all, with us.

This Easter we may not be able to celebrate in worship standing shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in Christ. But I pray that we will feel connected to God and to one another as we listen to the Gospel, read the Resurrection, sing (if you’re brave) Easter hymns aloud at home, and watch and listen to many broadcasts. Jesus’s message to his friends is the same to us now: to remind them that in spite of separation, suffering, and even death, that he will never leave them: ‘And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age’. (Matthew 28:25)

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Image © 2020 ROOTS for Churches Ltd, www.rootsontheweb.com.
Reflection © 2020 Rev. Paul Tabraham.

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