Reading Ramblings – Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013


Date: March 31, 2013,
Easter Sunday

Isaiah 65:17-25; Psalm 16; 1Corinthians 15:19-26; Luke 24:1-12

Easter Sunday. Although in Christian worship
every Sunday is a celebration of Easter, once a year we specifically
focus on the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the
single-most important tenet of the Christian faith. Indeed, not to
overstate the issue too much, were it not for the resurrection, there
would be no Christian faith. Were it not for the resurrection, all
of the other teachings and miracles of Jesus would have to be
interpreted and understood differently. Without the resurrection
Jesus might become a great moral teacher or inspiration along the
lines of Gandhi or other major historical figures, but He would cease
to become the object of veneration and worship. The Old Testament
would continue to be a sacred text, but much if not all of the New
Testament would need to be thrown away. Either Jesus was resurrected
from the dead and vindicated in his identification of himself as the
Son of God, or He remains just another enigmatic dead person.

Isaiah 65:17-25: We tend
to take the promises of Scripture in a very personal sense. God the
Father through God the Son is going to save me, personally, by the
grace of God the Holy Spirit. But this passage reminds us that God
the Fathers’ intention is the redemption of all of creation,
including but not limited to you and I personally. Just as all of
creation has suffered the effects of sin, all of creation will
benefit from the death and resurrection of Jesus the Son of God. For
those of us who sometimes worry whether or not this new creation will
be able to hold our attention and elicit joy, the Lord promises that
the former things we’ve known won’t even be thought about any more –
that’s how good the new stuff will be!

What sort of new, good stuff? Peace –
Jerusalem which has been a city of contention for thousands of years
will be a delight. Suffering and sorrow will be eliminated.
Lifespans will be lengthened – while the text hearkens back to the
long lives of the patriarchs in the early chapters of Genesis, we
understand that we will be immortal (John 3:16). Justice will be
established so that people will build and live in safety and peace.
God will be ever-present among his people, and even wildlife will be
restored to a state of perfect harmony.

Psalm 16: David begins
by stating that God is his refuge. What does this mean? It means
that David looks to the Lord for all good things, and nothing apart
from God can truly be held to be good. He will follow the example of
those who follow God, and will not pursue the false gods that others
may seek after. David acknowledges that he is already blessed
by God, he is not merely praying for some future blessing. David
will seek after the Lord’s wisdom, dwelling on it day and night and
trusting in his God, rather than his current situation. As such,
David can rejoice in the Lord who has blessed him and keeps him in
wise counsel. Moreover, David can rejoice that the Lord’s favor is
not a passing matter that will be ended at death. Rather, the Lord
will preserve David from power even of death. Rather, the future of
the one who loves the Lord is eternal joy in the presence of God.

1 Corinthians 15:19-26:
This section is preceded by Paul’s assertion regarding the doctrine
of the resurrection of the dead. He now applies this doctrine to the
Christian life, asserting that Christians have hope not just for this
life but for eternity in Jesus Christ. Paul then argues that Jesus
is both the anti-type of Adam, bringing life back to creation where
Adam brought death. But more than this, the resurrection of Jesus is
proof of what lies ahead for each of us. Christ is the firstfruits,
the first to experience and receive the resurrection from the dead
which we all will inherit and experience in due time by faith in him.
Victory is complete and assured in the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
but we will not experience the full benefit of this victory just yet.

Luke 24:1-12:
Jesus was crucified during the day on Friday, the last day of the
Jewish week. His body was taken down and laid in the tomb quickly
Friday before sundown, when the Sabbath would begin – the first day
of the Jewish week. The women only had time to note where Jesus was
buried and to rush out to get the necessary spices to anoint his body
for death properly. There was not time for them to actually apply
the spices though, before the Sabbath began Friday evening. So it is
that they wait until early on Sunday morning to apply the spices.
Jesus has therefore been in the tomb for the end of Friday, all day
Saturday, and the first part of Sunday. Luke mentioned in 23:55-56
that these women were the ones who came with Jesus from Galilee. It
seems evident to Luke that everyone would understand who these women
were, so well known were the events.

Tombs of the type described in the Gospel were hollowed out areas,
caves, really, in the soft rock of hillsides. A rock would be used
to cover the door so that animals would not disturb the bodies laid
within as they decomposed to a point where the bones could be
gathered together and stored in a smaller stone box (called an
ossuary). The women were surprised that the stone was already rolled
away, and undoubtedly disturbed by the fact that Jesus’ body was not
there. What new indignity was their master being submitted to now in
his death, even as he had submitted to indignities in life?

They are not left long to wonder. They are greeted by men in bright
white attire – hardly typical clothing. Furthermore, these men
know who these women are, because they know what Jesus has said in
their presence. They remind the women of Jesus’ words, so the women
know what to expect. And what they should expect is an empty tomb.

Luke now reiterates who these women were by name. While they were
undoubtedly well-known in Christian circles by the time Luke
assembled his writings, he makes it clear that these women were not
initially believed. The testimony of women was not treated on a par
with the testimony of men, and such was the case that first Easter
morning. The disciples assumed the women were confused or overcome
with grief. So a more reliable source had to be sent. John lets us
know that both he and Peter ran to the tomb, though Luke only
mentions Peter. Both John and Luke affirm that the men did not see
the angels, only the empty tomb and the strips of linen that would
have been hastily wrapped around Jesus’ body before setting it in the

The angels’ words are important. Jesus’ resurrection is not supposed
to be a surprise! He told his followers what would happen to him and
where He would see them again afterwards (Matthew 26:32, Mark 14:28).
What happens to Jesus is part of a plan, a plan that Jesus is in on
because He is the Son of God. It is the fulfillment of Jesus’ own
prophesy regarding his death and resurrection that demands – once
that prophecy is fulfilled – that we go back and receive all of his
words and actions as truth. Without the fulfillment of the
resurrection, we could not trust any of his words, regardless of how
nice or comforting they might seem on the surface.   

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