Matthew 28:1-7

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.” Matthew 28:1-7

EMPTY! He wasn’t there. Now THIS is something new.

John T. has been reading these devotions for many years. The other day he sent me a message about watching Nadia Bolz-Weber preaching at the funeral of Rachel Held Evans. The best advice you can get always comes from the people you trust the most so I clicked on the link and watched it. She preached a masterful sermon. The line that comes to mind this morning was something like “when the disciples looked into the tomb they saw dirty laundry, the women saw angels.”

Pastor Bolz-Weber also was very clear – Mary Magdalene wasn’t the first witness to Jesus’ resurrection DESPITE her having once been a troubled person but BECAUSE of who she had been. Jesus was a transformational force in her life. What else would she, could she, do but hold on to his body for as long as she could. And that is about all I want to say about the resurrection this morning.

The guards greeted the resurrection with frozen fear. Frozen with fear! They shook and became like dead men.

That is what the resurrection will do to anyone clinging to their earthly lives and their earthly power. The resurrection will strike fear into the hearts of the powerful because it exposes their power for what it is. Temporary. Hollow. Human.

But for those who have seen their lives transformed by the love of God? Those who have come to trust that God will always be the God of the second chance? Those who taste the pain of the despised class, of grief, of sorrow, of shame? Where could they go but to the Lord?

The angel sent the women to carry the story back to the guys. They were supposed to tell them that Jesus would see them back home. From that moment on, this is how the Christian faith has worked. We trust the witness of others. We discover God, if we are to discover God at all, at home. Where we live. In our regular, daily, lives. And in that, God will either be a transformational force leading to healing, compassion, love, and justice – or we will freeze in fear of what we might lose.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, the cross couldn’t stop you, the grave couldn’t hold you. You swallowed up death and took your wounds to eternity. You have caught us up into this story. You have caught us up in your love. May we, like Mary, carry your story to others, and may we discover you anew in our real life lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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