Do you remember Jesus teaching his disciples to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Mt. 10:16)?
In a moment like this, with a pandemic taking place, we need to remember such a teaching: in other words, if we truly follow Jesus and what he is about, we will seek to do no harm, and in this case, by maintaining our distance from others; but we also will do so as smart and creative people who still go about caring for others.
In this way, the resurrection of Jesus is not simply about mere survival or some kind of bliss. Rather, it is about the very concrete and practical and bodily ways God is making all things (2 Cor. 5:17). It is about the way in which Jesus’ crucified body has gone through death and come out the other side into a whole new way of life, into a whole new body.
I can’t help but think that God is doing something similar with the church today: that on the other side of the pandemic the church will come out with a new kind of body – something we had not considered.
That’s certainly the message we receive from Matthew’s Gospel. Matthew wants us to know that there is something earth-shattering about Easter and that on the other side is something new (28:2). Indeed, as Matthew tells it, there is a great deal of excitement on the first Easter: there is lightening and an angel descending from heaven (28:3). There are guards who are as dead and disciples full of fear (28:8). But above all, there is an empty tomb (28:6), and there is a message that Jesus has already gone out in front of the church; he has already come out of the other side and gone to Galilee (28:7). Put differently, Jesus is already setting a new agenda for ministry, an agenda that will involve us in ways we may not have anticipated (Matthew 28:16-20).
I am wondering how Christ’s new agenda can guide us now. How may the dashed hopes of Good Friday and the new hopes on Easter Sunday provide the ground upon which we may move into the future? What are the ways the risen Christ may call us to minister in new ways?
Pastor Andy Kinsey