Sunday 26 January 2014

TFTD - 26 January 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

26 January 2014

Genesis 42; 43
Psalms 46; 47; 48
Matthew 28


‘Fear’ and ‘Joy’ do not usually mix together, but they did for that group of women who came to the tomb in which they had laid Jesus “after the Sabbath” was over ­ as we read in today’s final chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. It is desirable to put together the testimonies of all four gospels to get a full picture of events on that incredible morning of the resurrection.

Matthew tells us “toward dawn … Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb” [Matthew 28:1]. Mark’s Gospel tells us the same thing, adding that Salome was with them [Mark 16:1], which is indicated inMatthew 27:56 as “the mother of the sons of Zebedee” - but it seems only the two Mary’s witnessed the burial [Matthew 27:61]. Mark says they “bought spices so that they might go and anoint him” and “it was very early” [Mark 16:1,2].

Luke’s record is similar, that it was “early dawn” and that previously “the women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how the body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.” [Luke 23:55,56; 24:1] John only mentions Mary Magdalene in his Gospel coming “early while it is still dark” [John 20:1] and she then runs to tell Peter and himself that the stone has been taken away from the tomb. These slight variations help to convince us that these are independent testimonies.

This is the greatest event in their lives and they give considerable detail, which is very understandable.

Imagine being there yourself. Sense the emotion of “fear and great joy” that unfolded. We usually understand the Bible use of the word fear in this context as a sense of overwhelming awe - rather than being terrified.

Matthew told us in yesterday’s reading that “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting opposite the tomb” [Matthew 27:61] as Joseph of Arimathea “took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb” [Matthew 27:59,60] John adds the information that Nicodemus helped him [John 19:39,40] The women waited with no doubt great impatience until the Sabbath(s?) were over so they could embalm his precious body, touching it, so they thought, for one last time. The events that followed the next morning (and did they sleep at all that night?) makes us think that the words “with fear and great joy” after the angel told them “he has risen as he said” [Matthew 28:6-8] and they saw the tomb empty - are inadequate to describe their emotions! And what is adequate to describe our emotion when he returns?
- DC

Thought for the Day

26 January 2014

"It was the apostle’s strong sense of being redeemed himself by the mercy of God which was the basis of his attitude. God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you, he writes to the Ephesians, so "be you therefore followers of God" (Ephesians 5:1). "The love of Christ constraineth us" (2 Corinthians 5:14); that is, we are under an obligation, not to live for ourselves, but for him who died for us. In that reflection we, too, may find the strength not to seek our own but our neighbour’s good so that he is edified."

- F.T. Pearce
The Brother for Whom Christ Died (1968)

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