A marvelous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonor and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death’s defeat. (St. Athanasius)
With great fear and excitement, they hurried away from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. But Jesus met them and greeted them. They came and grabbed his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers that I am going into Galilee. They will see me there.” (Matthew 28:8-10; context)
Today is the second to last day of our celebration of Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearances, and today we move to the Gospel according to Matthew to wrap up. Right before the verses above, the women have gone to the tomb and found the stone rolled away. An angel tells them: “Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He isn’t here, because he’s been raised from the dead, just as he said. Come, see the place where they laid him. Now hurry, go and tell his disciples, ‘He’s been raised from the dead. He’s going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ I’ve given the message to you.”
And then the women hurry away to tell the disciples, but they run into Jesus instead. And he says almost the exact same thing the angel did a minute before. So, why the repeat dialogue? Why have the angel’s monologue and Jesus’ repetition so close together? Could it possibly be because what they told the women is so incredulous that they needed to hear it twice? Perhaps, the readers of the Gospel needed a “come again” moment. Didn’t quite catch that the first time. Come again?
Or perhaps Matthew is playing by the rules that he sets on Jesus’ lips ten chapters before. Jesus says, “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and correct them when you are alone together. If they listen to you, then you’ve won over your brother or sister. But if they won’t listen, take with you one or two others so that every word may be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses” (Matthew 18:16-17).
Matthew uses the angel’s and Jesus’ testimony as proof of the Resurrection that would essentially hold up in court (the two witnesses thing). The thing is – they might have been the first to declare the Resurrection, but they certainly weren’t the last. God calls us to be witnesses to the Resurrection even now.
Dear God, your Son rose from the dead to show us that death would never again have power over us. Help me to proclaim the grace of the eternal relationship that you yearn to have with each of us through the power of the Resurrection. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
I leave this moment with you, God, rejoicing that you raised your Son from the dead and showed me that nothing in all of creation can separate me from your love.
One thought on “Two Witnesses (April 27, 2012)”
How amazing and liberating it is to know that we are free from the bondage sin and death!