Weekly Bible Reflection
Matthew's Communities of Justice
Matt 28.1-10 :
"He's not here!"
Begin by using the Method as outlined
Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone unexpectedly, out of their normal context, and failed to recognise them? Why didn’t you know who it was?
Reflection on the text
The tomb had been closed and a guard posted. It’s all over! The hope that Jesus might be the liberator of Israel dies with him. The authorities have won. The followers of this false ‘Messiah’ have melted away. Pilate and Herod must be very pleased at the way it has all turned out.
The author of Matthew, writing as a Jew, stands in a long tradition where supernatural events occur at great moments when God acts. Suddenly, as the two Marys get to the tomb, there is a violent earthquake, and an angel appears, rolling the stone away - and speaks to them. They must have been awestruck, and afraid - the soldiers were petrified. “He is not here,” the angel says. “Come and see for yourselves, then go quickly and tell his disciples.” They looked inside the tomb … the body had vanished!
They race to tell the menfolk – and come face to face with Jesus. “Tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me!” Everyone is going back to where it had all started – ‘Galilee of the Gentiles’ (Matthew 4:15/Isaiah 9:1). This is a new beginning. Their lives would never be the same again.
God who had remained silent on Good Friday now has the last word, answering the anguished cry of Jesus, ‘Why have you abandoned me?’ It is not all over after all.
The first witnesses are the women, and it is to them that Jesus entrusts the news of the most important event in the history of humanity. In Middle Eastern tradition, the testimony of a woman counts for little or nothing. (In Iran today it still counts for half that of a man.) Jesus always challenges prejudice.
some questions for group discussion:
- The gospels all report that women were the first eyewitnesses to the empty tomb and the risen Jesus. Is this sensible considering the prejudice against them?
- In the New Testament there were no eyewitnesses to the actual event of the resurrection. Why should we believe it? Why do you believe it? What was the evidence that convinced the women?
- Did the disciples expect to see Jesus again? Why did they come to believe? Share together when you first heard the resurrection story and believed it.
- How important is the resurrection of Jesus to the expression of Christian faith as a community and as individuals?
Thank God for this the foundation of our faith. Pray that you may have the courage to bear witness to it in your life by seeking to be a loving, open, welcoming and faithful community of believers; and by offering yourselves for the service of the powerless and voiceless - the world God loves so much and for whom Jesus gave his life.