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Lent for Everyone: Easter Sunday and Easter Monday (120409)

Lent For Everyone Reading Plan

The reading plan continues for the week after Easter. The reading for Easter Sunday was Matthew 28:1-10, and the reading for Monday is Matthew 28:11-15. (If you want to listen, scroll to the bottom of that page for the audio links.)

On Sunday Wright emphasizes the strangeness of the Easter story: “Earthquakes, angels, women running to and fro, a strange command. A highly unlikely tale. Yes, indeed, and that’s the point. Nobody thought in the first century, and nobody should think now, that the point of the Easter story is that this is quite a reasonable thing to happen, that dead people really do rise if only we had the wit to see it, that it should be quite easy to believe it if only you thought about it for a few minutes.

No. It was always a strange, crazy, wild story. What else would you expect if, after all, the ancient dream of Israel was true? If the God who made the world had finally acted to turn things around, to take all the forces of chaos, pride, greed, darkness and death and allow them to do their worst, exhausting themselves in the process? If Jesus of Nazareth really was, as the centurion (greatly to his own surprise, no doubt) found himself saying three days before, ‘the Son of God’? What else would you expect? A calm restatement of some philosophical truths for sage old greybeards to ponder — or events which blew the world apart and put it back in a new way?”

On Monday, discussing the effort to make the guards blame the disciples for the missing body, Wright says that the skeptics of the world have been trying to explain away the resurrection ever since: “But the other part of the answer to what the sceptics have said is that it is in fact the sceptics, from that day to this, who are guilty of the very thing of which they are accusing the Christians. It is the sceptical world-view that has been blown apart by Jesus’ resurrection. Ever since that day they have been only too eager to find stories to tell to show that actually it didn’t happen, that their original world-view (in which dead people cannot, do not and will not rise again) was correct after all, that some other story will explain it. You can feel the sigh of relief in the sceptical camp each time one of these stories is put forward, however unlikely it may be. Phew! We don’t need to believe that Jesus rose again. That’s all right then. We can cope with him as a great teacher (with whom we may from time to time disagree). We can even see his death as a great example of love in action. We can share his vision of a world in which people live at peace. Only don’t ask us to accept that he rose from the dead. That’s just too much.”

Praise God that He did raise Jesus from death! Yesterday at church we played the great S M Lockeridge message That’s My King, which, as many people noted, is a wonderful summary of where we’ve been with Matthew and Tom Wright this Lent. (Linked to the Vimeo version as the discussion on the Youtube version is not really uplifting.)