Home > Uncategorized > Sermon for Weds in Pentecost 26

Sermon for Weds in Pentecost 26

Matthew 28:1-20

Note:  this sermon is an adaptation of Tom Wright’s, Matthew for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 16-28, 197–200.  With so much plagiarism around, it’s good to cite sources.  I essentially rewrote what Tom had here often adding my own insights and experiences but using his outline and main points.  As usual the audio can be heard by clicking the triangle in the embedded player below.

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Many people have mentioned to one another this week where they were 50 years ago when President Kennedy was assassinated.  For people of my generation, the day is most certainly September 11, 2001.  The reason that those days mean so much to us is not just the tragedy or the trauma experienced on that day but a profound sense that from this point on everything will be very, very different.  And that opens the range of experiences not just to negative ones like assassinations or terrorist attacks, but very positive ones too.

I can remember many phone calls and letters over the years where the next part of the path in my life was illuminated where before it had been vague at best.  Leaving my parents for Freshman orientation.  When my wife walked into view at the end of the aisle.  When I held Erika right after she was born.  New and very different realities came to be at those moments and life would never be the same.

The resurrection accounts in the Gospels are very much like that.  Matthew especially seems to capture some of the mixture of delight and sheer terror of the moment experienced by the women who went to the tomb that Easter morning.  Mark and Luke tell us that they needed to finish preparing Jesus’ body for burial but Matthew just tells us they went to see the tomb.  It’s not that there’s a great difference between the two accounts, it merely reminds us that the Gospels are, in fact, eyewitness accounts, not a party line made by collusion.  And Matthew’s account is the most dramatic of the four: an angel and an earthquake and guards fainting, and the messages about Jesus going on to Galilee. It makes sense that angel was there to announce Jesus’ resurrection because there was an angel to announce to Joseph, not to fear.  If Matthew is writing to a primarily Jewish audience, it makes sense to include the angels because throughout the OT angels appeared at great moments within God’s revelation of His plan.  Guarding the gates of Eden, appearing to Abraham, ascending and descending on a ladder in Jacob’s dream, we could go on and on.

The whole point of noting this is to note that what is happening here at the tomb on Easter morning is the activity of the God of Israel Himself.  The God who remained apparently silent on Good Friday as His Son was mocked is having the last word.  “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (27:40)  He is even answering His own Son’s question, “Why have you forsaken me?”  And the answer is the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  This is not just a display of God’s power for its own sake or even to right the wrongs done to His Son Jesus.  It is the beginning of something entirely new.  The promises made long ago to Adam and Eve that one day the curse of death would be lifted (Gen 3:15) is the end of death in resurrection of Jesus.  Everything is different for the women as a result of that morning.  Everything is different for us, for the whole world.

Just like you and I can remember where we were and what we said and did in the moments after tremendous tragedy or overwhelming joy, there is every reason to believe that the women who were there that morning remembered exactly what they saw and heard, as they saw and heard it that day.  The Good News that Jesus was raised from the dead was not just a theological result but a personal revelation attested to not only by the women but then hundreds of people over the next 40 days prior to His ascension to the right hand of God.

The resurrection of our Lord is not just offering people some new hope within themselves; it is about the plans and purposes of God revealing itself to be fulfilled in Christ.  The women must tell the others to go to Galilee and see Jesus there.  And so they head to Galilee and not only see the risen Jesus but are further sent by Him into the world to all peoples.  This new thing must be told to everyone because everyone is now free from death on account of Jesus victory over death here today.  Yes, they are commissioned.  Commissioned to baptize and teach everything that the Lord commanded, not just a new ethical scheme for the betterment of humankind but freedom from death and the power of sin and the devil.  This new thing has come to be.  Everything is now different than it was.  Everything is new and the Lord calls them to new lives, lives that already anticipate the resurrection of their own bodies.

Take away the resurrection of Jesus and there is nothing but a teacher teaching, maybe even a miracle worker working miracles, anticipation for something new, perhaps a glimpse of it but not the whole thing.  But in the light of Easter morning, the Sermon on the Mount is not an ethical treatise but the revelation of God’s new life in God’s kingdom, a new way of being human apart from death and sin and the power of hell all on account of Christ Jesus.

The old kingdom of death and sin is vanquished.  As a result of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, everything is different.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  Amen.

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