Take a fresh look at Matthew 28:1-10, printed here in the New Living Translation.
2 Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. 3 His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. 4 The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.
5 Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. 7 And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”
8 The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. 9 And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”
I’ll write more about the fact that a dead man came out of the grave a little later … closer to Easter next week, Lord willing. I certainly don’t want you to miss THAT little tidbit of good news ;-)
However, I was struck in particular by two things I’d not noticed before.
- Jesus first appears to women.
- After doing so, Jesus heads to Galilee.
Jesus could not have picked two more despised or ostracized group of people to appear to first. The accepted cultural values of Jesus’ day pushed women to the outskirts of influence, and the Galileans were little more than peasant country bumpkins that most wished would simply “go away.”
And yet here, at the single most important event in all the universe, the risen Jesus shows Himself to women and Galileans.
Throughout His ministry, Jesus did a lot to demonstrate His rejection of accepted cultural norms, and He frequently taught in ways that irked religious and political leaders. But for Him to use His resurrection to drive that statement home is truly astounding.
So astounding that it calls for action on our part. Likewise, we who have been raised from the dead with Christ must go … go broadly and urgently … and share the gospel, starting with those our world despises and rejects.
If we believe the gospel, we reject the world’s work to divide people between the “in” and the “out” or the “haves” and “have-nots.” We reject the efforts of religious leaders to divide people between the “good” and the “bad.” Instead, our ministries must reflect the ministry … and apparently the resurrection … of Jesus: one that breeches social norms in favor of gospel grace.