Wednesday of the Week of Lent III
And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split; the tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:50-53)
Additional Daily Bible Readings: Genesis 47:12–31; Psalm 62; Matthew 27:32–56
Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2B8e5CY
Modern, rational, scientific thinking minds will have a hard time believing the witness of Matthew above. How can such things happen, they will ask? The earth shaking and rocks splitting, tombs opened and saints being raised from their tombs? Is this believable?
Surely this is as believable as a man being raised from death after three days! The message is that the death and resurrection of Jesus were earth-shattering, earth-transforming! The curtain of the temple was torn in two—now there is no separation between God and humanity. There is no distance between the Creator and his creation. And how could it be otherwise? How could the Son of man and Son of God be crucified and resurrected and not have it rip the fabric of human existence in two? How could it happen and not have the earth shake, rocks split asunder and saints raised from death with Jesus? To impress upon the reader the truth of his witness, Matthew includes the comment, “coming out of the tombs after the resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” It is similar to Paul’s testimony that after Jesus’ resurrection, he [Jesus] appeared to more than five hundred at one time (I Corinthians 15:6).
And how have his death and resurrection affected your life? Is your life different because Jesus, crucified, is now raised from death? Has the Gospel message caused a seismic shift in your life, an earthquake that has shattered your sense of reality, causing a new reality wherein death no longer has the final word and is not the end but the beginning of a new existence? A reality where heaven and earth are united in a cosmic oneness because God has made his home with us? The Word has become flesh to dwell among us. Now, God is with us! Now, Jesus lives! And how could this not shake and shatter our previous understanding of life, death and resurrection?
If, after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, we would go about the busyness of our lives as if nothing had changed, as if Jesus is not alive and risen, we would deserve to be pitied. We would be living not in the power of the resurrection, but still in bondage to sin, death and the devil. This is not what God intends. This is not what Matthew proclaims when he tells us of the earthshaking good news that Jesus, once dead, is risen!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, turn our lives upside down! Shake us up and make our lives different, because you live! Amen.
Lenten Response: Read I Corinthians 15, to hear Paul’s witness to the resurrection.
Video Devotional: From Ashes to Easter
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.