God’s government arrived with an empty tomb.
I doubt any of Jesus’ followers could sleep after his crucifixion. The men kept a low profile, fearing for their lives. If the leader had been crucified, what would they do to his followers? Their best chance was blending into the crowds returning to Galilee when the festival was over.
The women had watched from a distance (27:55). Those horror scenes would haunt them. Sleepless in Jerusalem, they rose while darkness still enveloped them to make their way to the only thing they had left: a tomb. The tombs of the prophets enshrined Jerusalem’s tragedies.
What they found
This tomb had been disturbed. It was no longer the final resting place they had watched as Jesus was buried (27:61). The tomb’s mouth gaped open. The stone was rolled to one side. And someone was sitting on the stone: not a gardener or a guard, a messenger in a glistening white uniform.
Continue reading “Risen and reigning (Matthew 28:1-10)”
The dead came out of the tombs? What was Matthew saying?
Death feels so final. God did not intervene to prevent Jesus’ death. As I read Matthew, I feel I need time to absorb the enormity of this tragedy, to process the loss, to grieve at the injustice, to feel the familiar futility of a world where God’s anointed falls.
Matthew doesn’t pause. He hurtles on with disjointed details from a turbulent timeline, confusing our grief:
Continue reading “The death that shook the world (Matthew 27:51-54)”
“I am the God of Abraham” proves the resurrection?
Like you, I want to understand Scripture better, so we can live it well. It matters, because we’re living in God’s story. One way to learn is to watch how Scripture handles Scripture (i.e. intertextuality informs hermeneutics).
For example, in Matthew 22:31 Jesus quotes this text to convince his opponents about the resurrection:
Exodus 3:6 I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.
Huh? How does that verse prove the resurrection? I might have gone for something like this:
Continue reading “The God who raises the dead (Matthew 22:31-32)”
What’s permanent? At best, I have a couple of decades left to understand what Jesus meant by the kingdom of God. Life is brief. What’s beyond?
Nothing, according to some. It’s over when we die. That’s what Sadducees believed back in Jesus’ day. They were aware that others were dying to meet their loved ones in the afterlife, but even in this life relationships are complicated. We lose friends when they break up with us or move away. Even the most treasured and stable relationships end when death takes someone. People remarry. So, what relationships survive into the afterlife?
Continue reading “Can there be a resurrection when our relationships are so messy? (Matthew 22:23-33)”
Here’s an example of how asking good questions leads to a richer appreciation of what God is doing.
When you read Scripture, what are you looking for? It’s not enough to approach the Bible like a shopping trip, to pick up some things that appeal to you. The Bible changes us. It’s the revelation of the God who is reshaping us into community in his image.
Questions help open us to that transformation, beyond the way we currently think and live. Rich communal understanding and life grows from asking good questions together.
An example from a recent post. Ephesians 2:1 (NIV) says, As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins. We asked, “Who is the you?” The tendency is to assume it’s me, because our culture is individualistic. But you is plural, so perhaps it’s us? But two verses later, the writer switches from you to us. Turns out he’s using we to mean his own people (fellow Jews), and addressing people of other nations (gentiles) as you.
That leads to another question. What were the transgressions and sins of the gentiles? The sins of the Jewish nation could be any violations of the law God gave them at Sinai, but how were gentiles disobedient to God?
Continue reading “Questions take you deeper (Ephesians 2)”
How does Jesus’ resurrection make a difference for humanity?
Open Ephesians 2:5-6.
The resurrection is the moment in history when everything changed, for everyone.
Jesus was not the first to be put to death unjustly. That kind of thing happens every day. One of Judah’s kings is said to have filled Jerusalem with innocent blood (2 Kings 21:16).
What was unique in Jesus’ case was what happened three days later. When they went to wrap his dead body with spices, it wasn’t there. God had intervened. Earthly courts had authorized his execution, but a higher court exonerated him and restored him. Continue reading “What difference does the resurrection make?”
How did Jonah’s story help Jesus pursue his mission?
Open Matthew 12:38-41 and Jonah 2.
Why did Jesus compare himself to Jonah? How could Jonah’s story have inspired Jesus and helped him understand his mission? Continue reading “How Jonah inspired Jesus (Matthew 12:38-41)”
Your heavenly Father knows when even a sparrow falls.
Open Matthew 10:26-31.
We all have filters that shape what we hear. That’s true of how we understand our closest friends. It’s even more significant when we want to understand what Jesus said 2000 years ago in a very different setting.
For example, we in the western church tend to think of souls as immortal. After your body dies, your soul lives on, either in heaven or hell. It would make no sense to us to talk about bodies going to hell. Yet that’s precisely what Jesus did to: he said it’s better to lose an eye than to lose your whole body in hell (Matthew 5:29-30, 22). Something that doesn’t make sense is a hint that we’re not hearing it right, that we need to reframe the way we think. Continue reading “Where’s God’s justice in an unjust world? (Matthew 10:26-31)”