“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. So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”” (Matthew 28:1-10)
Easter Greetings, Fighter
Yes, it is Easter, where we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus – the event that puts the Good into the Good News. Even so, as you can see from the above account in Matthew’s Gospel, we missed it!
This is Matthew’s resurrection account, and yet it doesn’t contain any account of the resurrection. It tells us about an earthquake and about an angel who announced that the resurrection had happened, but we don’t know exactly when it happened, and we certainly don’t know how!
This is one thing all four of our Gospel accounts have in common. They each contain resurrection accounts that don’t give any account of the resurrection. No one knows what happened to Jesus between the time that He was sealed in the tomb on Friday and the time when His disciples started bumping into Him again, alive and well, a few days later. It is remarkable when you think about it. The resurrection of Jesus is the pivotal event of the Christian faith, and yet the New Testament gives us no detail whatsoever as to how it happened, nor any straightforward explanation as to why!
The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are the brute facts upon which the church was built, but reflection on these events didn’t start until after Easter. If there had been no resurrection, no one would have bothered looking back at Jesus’ crucifixion and wondering why. The moral of that story would have been the same as with every other crucifixion – ‘don’t oppose the Empire or this is what will happen to you’. The resurrection of Jesus though forced everyone to rethink the crucifixion, and by the time you reach the end of the New Testament, you get the feeling that the church is still thinking through the implications.
Last week I mentioned Jurgen Moltmann’s interpretation of the crucifixion of Jesus. If I remember correctly, it was also Moltmann who first helped me to think about the resurrection of Jesus as God’s stamp of approval on the theology of Jesus. It was God’s way of saying, “Jesus speaks for me”.
In a sense, the Gospel stories are a depiction of a stoush between two gods. In the blue corner is the god of the establishment – a god with a temple behind him, and a whole army of priests and scholars speaking on his behalf. This god rewards the righteous and punishes sinners. In the red corner you have the God of Jesus. This is the god of the little guy – the God who goes after lost sheep, touches lepers, and sees the best in sex-workers and collaborators. This God has an issue with the very rich and the very religious but seems pretty relaxed with everybody else! In this depiction, the crucifixion appears to be the knockout blow for the God of Jesus, but the resurrection forces the referee to reverse the decision. It is the God of Jesus who is the real God – the God of the weak and the marginalised!
I think there is an echo of this depiction at the end of our gospel reading from Matthew. Did you notice how it ended with the resurrected Jesus saying that He was going ahead to Galilee and that He’d meet the rest of His crew there? Why wasn’t the resurrected Jesus heading to Rome to take over the seat of Imperial power? If not Rome, wouldn’t we have expected Jesus to gather the team together in Jerusalem – the centre of religious power? Instead, Jesus heads straight back to Galilee – the land of the marginalised – presumably to seek more lost sheep!
He is risen! Yes, He is risen indeed, and the Good News of Easter is not simply that Jesus was raised from the dead, The really great news is that it was Jesus who was raised from the dead, meaning that all He told us is true and that the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ – the God of the weak and the marginalised – is indeed the real God! In the resurrection of Jesus, the real God stands up!
Our Sunday Eucharist
We had another very special Eucharist last Sunday. A big thank you to Tom, David and Rev. Stephen Sizer for their wonderful contributions. For our Easter service this week we are privileged to have Father Mark Battison with us again, and he’s promised to share a special story with us about three trees.
Speaking of Father Mark, he’s been involved in putting together a letter to the two Archbishops of the Anglican Communion in the UK regarding Palestine. He’s trying to challenge the Archbishops, and the Church as a whole, to come out in support of Palestine. If you’d like to endorse and share the letter, click here.
Along with Mark, we’ll have our good friend Robert, joining us live, along with Joel, joining us via a pre-recorded reflection on the Colossians 3. I’m also expecting to have a sizeable team with me at Binacrombi, so expect some hearty discussion!😊
Let me work your corner
Thank you once again to all of you who support Fighting Fathers Ministries through your prayers and through monthly financial contributions. If you’re not contributing financially and you can afford to, please go to Patreon.com and sign up to either:
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- Friday, April 7th to Monday, April 10th – Easter weekend @Binacrombi.
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- Tuesday, April 11th – Boxing from 6.30 pm @The Fight Lab
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- Saturday, April 29th – Down the Rabbit HoleBall @The Epping Club.
Please book your tickets at TryBooking.com if you haven’t already,
- Saturday, May 20th – Father Dave fighting at Revesby Workers Club (hopefully)
Let me conclude today by sharing with you an interview I did with my friend, Marc McLean – a Scottish expert in strength training and the author of numerous books, who also hosts the Self-Optimised podcast. Marc’s interview is entitled The Priest Who Punches People In The Face Talks ‘Winning The Bigger Fight’ and can be found on his Self-Optimised website here, or you can get the links to the Spotify and Apple Podcast versions of the interview here.
I wish you a blessed Easter. “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with every good thing to do His will. And may He accomplish in us what is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20)
P.S. It was my darling daughter, Francesca’s 14th birthday this week. In the pic below we are joined by my son, Soren.