On the third day after the crucifixion Jesus rose from the dead. An angel announced to two women who had come to the grave early in the morning that Jesus was raised from the dead. Though the angel told them that they would see Jesus in Galilee, He appeared to them on their way to tell the disciples what they had seen and heard. Jesus gave them the same instruction as the angel that they should tell the disciples that they would see Him in Galilee. In the meantime, the guards at the tomb were bribed to tell other people that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body. The final scene takes place in Galilee where the resurrected Jesus commanded the disciples to go to all nations and baptize and teach them that they should observe all that He commands.
Jesus had announced several times to the disciples that after His death He would be raised up. These predictions are found in Matthew 16, 17, and 20. His predictions were fulfilled.
Jesus is involved in a dispute with the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection. The Sadducees present Jesus with a bizarre example disproving the resurrection. A woman marries seven brothers in succession. Each one dies without leaving children. Thus, his brother is obligated under the Law of levirate marriage (See Genesis 38: 12-30 and Deuteronomy 25: 5-10) to wed the wife of his dead brother so that the oldest son of this marriage could be regarded as the son of the dead brother. In this way the name of the dead brother is not blotted out in Israel. The antagonists ask Jesus who her husband would be in the resurrection. Jesus responded by saying that marriage does not exist in heaven and that since God is the God of the living and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who are with God there is a resurrection.
Two stories in the Gospel indicate the significance of the resurrection for us. When Jesus died on the cross, the saints in Jerusalem left their graves and walked about in the holy city. The death of Jesus is connected to the resurrection of His people. The death of Jesus grants forigiveness of sins which opens the way to eternal life. It also indicates that Jesus’ own victorious resurrection is the event making our resurrection possible.
The second text appears at the very end of the Gospel where Jesus gives final instructions to the disciples. They are to go to all nations, baptize them in the name of the Holy Trinity, and teach them to observe Jesus’ commandments. And at the very end of this text (Matthew 28: 16-20), Jesus promises them that He would be with them until the end of the present age when His kingdom would come in all its fulness. The promise is reflected in the text where Jesus tells the disciples, “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18: 19-20 ESV) This text is reflected in a prayer in the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom and also in Morning Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer. This text is found only in Matthew. In Matthew the resurrection of Jesus means that we too will be raised with all the saints and that now before the end of this present age Christ is present among us.
When we are meeting the challenges of witness and the defense of the Gospel we are helped by our remembering that Christ is with us and that in the end we will share with Him in life everlasting.
Michael G. Tavella
January 1, 2020
The Circumcision and the Name of Jesus