If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. — Paul of Tarsus
Matthew 28:1-10 and other suspicious texts
I like Matthew’s resurrection story, maybe even better than Luke’s, certainly more than Mark’s, and on most given days more than John’s. How can you not? Angels, real angels, the kind that show up with earthquake and cause skilled soldiers to wet their kilts and fall into a paralyzed stupor — give me that. The Angels not the soldiers that is. Ya, there are angel in the other gospels but they are merely there to make a humble announcement. Mark goes so far as to say: a young man in white. Some angel! And John don’t even have any angels, with or without earthquake.
You see, I want to know the resurrection, not the confused dance that Jesus’ faction does when it is discovered that the grave is empty. Knowing all that he had taught them they do not use what they have heard to make sense of the time. All the reports of their exploits leave me cold. So the beloved disciple runs faster than Peter — big deal. (John) So he defers to Peter the honor to see the empty grave first — so, etiquette matters; got it. (John) So someone gets to meet him first — duh! So there are two angels and not just one — what is this a math lesson. (Luke) So they run away scared and keep their mouths shut — one word: Lutherans. (Mark)
I have grown tired of all the speculation about he frail humans involved. Why did the beloved disciple believe by just seeing the empty tomb? Why was Mary there and why did Jesus have to call her twice? Why did the three women decide to not say nothing to nobody? Why did they bother to go to the tomb when they knew they had no way to get in? Why does Thomas get to touch him but Mary must not? Why does Mary go to the tomb at dark? I have heard it all worked over and analyzed 100 times over and much of it is neat, but I just don’t care anymore.
No, give me angels. They are simple. God sends them and they do what they are told and proclaim what they have heard. Ask them to wreak havoc at the tomb and you can consider it done. It must have been quite the sight.
But it would not have been the sight of the resurrection itself either. Like Thomas, I am thinking that the ultimate question in our hearts, conscious or unconscious, is: But how did it happen and what did it look like? And, yes, I want to gaze at it.
After all, Jesus is not reanimated like Lazarus. No, Jesus can now sometimes be recognized and sometimes not. Is he the same one? Or is he merely someone who looks like him? (Jn 9) He now shows up without warning and in locked rooms at that. (Jn 20) He moves around at will and we know not where he will be manifest next. (Jn 3:8) He shows up suddenly and brings his own breakfast. (Jn 21) Not only that, no one knows where he got it. (Jn 4:32, 6:1-15) He is recognized at his bidding, not at the choice of the mortal laying eyes on him. (Lk 24:13-35; Jn 20:16) But he carries in him the very marks of the sacrifice. (Jn 20:27-28)
I am left with a book. A book and a very, very imperfect people. We might be the ones called out, but we are a ragged bunch. Not even the angels or the prophets can tell me more about the resurrection. (I Pt 1:10-12) What do I do?
They call it “Faith,” for a reason. The resurrection is kept in safe in heaven for you, (1 Pt 1:4) and its power will be revealed not by me or you but by God, at the last day. (1 Pt 1:5)
The glory is that the resurrection gives glimpse into a future only God can offer. More than a glimpse, it is a promise. Angel and prophet can work on behalf of the promise, but they cannot make the promise. Ecclesia, the called out, can witness to it, but she cannot make it. All the witnesses to the risen Jesus cannot raise him from the dead or raise me from the dead. They can merely tell. And perchance, they can kindle my curiosity, my longing, and in that longing, faith dwells and reaches up to God.
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. — Jesus Christ, the Risen one