An Easter Message from the Dean of Bristol
Jesus was betrayed, deserted, beaten, unjustly condemned, crucified and killed. God in Christ endured that, took all of that to himself. And, at Easter, everything that looked as though it was just a failure, just a defeat begins to look like something else. Christ still exists. God’s commitment to human life is not over. What began has not finished. That is what matters about Easter. Evil and despair do not win. There is still hope.
At Easter there is still evil. And, there is still hope. Each gospel tells us about the resurrection, and each picks our details we should think about. Luke stresses forgiveness, John is interested in seeing and not seeing. Matthew though has a detail no one else has. The chief priests went to Pilate and asked for the guard. ‘If you don’t do this’, they said, ‘his disciples will steal his body and tell everyone he has been raised from the dead’. Matthew wants us to notice that force and military might were used to shut down any hope and that religious leaders, on the Sabbath in Passover, at a holy time of year, conspired against God.
And it goes on… the armed force, the same story of despair and denial, all that goes on. Sarin gas in Syria, missile tests in the Sea of Japan, murders in Westminster, cynicism, mistrust, us rather than them. That is the world we still live in. When Jesus rises at Easter all those things are still unjust, still an affront, still an agony, but they are not the last word. There is still hope. That is the story in Easter. Not that Christ has come back to life (he has not come back to life he died on Good Friday, he really is dead), but that death is not the last word. Might and armed force will not prevail and nor will denial and despair. It was the guards at Easter who looked like dead men, that is what Matthew says. Christ, the dead man, appears alive. They look dead, Jesus rises. Death is not what we thought it was and neither is life.
Jesus is overcome and dies on Good Friday. At Easter it is death itself that is overcome. That is why we celebrate Easter.
Posted on 15th April 2017