MATTHEW 28: JESUS APPEARS TO WOMAN
In Matthew, and in every one of the four gospel accounts, the resurrection is the shocking climax of the Jesus story, and there is something nearly just as shocking in the account of the risen Jesus.
No one expected Jesus to raise from the dead, even though Jesus told the disciples this would happen. Nobody actually saw Jesus get up--we just find perched on the tombstone that has been rolled away an angel saying, "He's not here."
The second shocking revelation after the resurrection is who Jesus appears to first. In all four gospels Jesus appears first to Mary Magdalene.
Mary Magdalene is a woman who had been demon possessed (the preferred way to say someone was crazy, insane or influenced by demons), but Jesus had driven the demons from her. So, Mary became one of the most insane followers of Christ.
What about his last appearance?
At his final appearance recorded in Matthew, they gathered on a mountain overlooking Galilee and saw him again, worshipped him . . . but some doubted.
Jesus doesn’t just appear but also commissions his disciples in several ways. He says, “Don’t hold on to me. I’m going to the Father. Get up. Go. Tell. Make Disciples. Baptize people. I appear to you always. You will be my witnesses, saying, “I have seen the Lord.”
Then Jesus “left them,” says Luke, and Acts says he went up and a cloud hid him. We believe he is still here, that he appears differently now and will appear again with finality and that’s for coming weeks in The Story . . .
But today we ask, How is Jesus supposed to appear to us so many years later?? How does he continue to appear to us?
In much the same way that he appeared in flesh as a helpless baby, a man of sorrows, a suffering savior, so he appears as risen Lord, feeder of breakfast, and he had said in a parable to his disciples earlier that whatever they do to the least of these, they do it unto me, so until Christ comes back, which the angels promised, he appears to us in yet a third person.
The promised Holy Spirit and next week we’ll see this amazing event of the coming Holy Spirit to dwell and empower the church.
His resurrection means he appears to us in the Holy Spirit, The Image of the Invisible God Jesus the Cosmic Christ rules from the rings of Saturn to the core of our hearts.
But he also appears in the lives of the poor, the prisoner, the stranger, the undocumented immigrant, the abused child, the trafficked human along I-44 at a truck.
Jesus is here. Jesus reigns. Jesus has appeared. Does appear. And Jesus will appear again.
The question is not whether Jesus has, does, and will appear. The Gospels want to know, I want to know, Jesus who appears wants to know . . .
Will YOU appear? Will you show up? Will you wake up? Will you get up? Will you never shut up? Will you go? Will you tell? Will you eat breakfast? Will you look intently in the sky and wonder? Will you listen? Will you speak? Will you come awake!?”
There are many convincing proofs of Jesus resurrection, but the most convincing truth of the Living Christ is Living Servants who have come alive.
And coming alive means you kill the sin that’s causing you to be a dead man walking. You put old ways to death and come alive. That’s what baptism means. It means you wake up and its a future sign your body will be resurrected like Jesus.
Be baptized today. Recommit your life to Christ today. Say I just want to want to want to wake up today. But don’t hit the snooze on Jesus. Come awake.
Some of you are zombies, dead men walking. Some of you are women of worth who have lost your luster, and Jesus is ready to appear to you as he did to Mary Magdalene and say, “Get up, Go and Tell, Come Awake” and like Mary you will say, “I have SEEN the Lord!”
Living Christ, we come to your table because you are risen Lord. We celebrate your resurrection with tokens of how you died for our salvation. The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. You are the resurrection and the life, the righteous judge and also our advocate and mediator. You are not just lamb but also shepherd, and if that was not enough you are also the gate for your sheep, protecting us day and night. You are light in our pitch black hole, an anchor for our souls when the boat is making us queasy, you are the man of sorrows acquainted with grief, but also the bridegroom waiting for us to come to the celebration, you are savior, Messiah, the Christ, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, the Alpha and Omega, the author of our story and finisher of our faith, the foundational stone of our lives, the beloved, teacher, bread of life, the I AM, the VINE, living water, the head of the church, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah! You are redeemer, wonderful counselor, friend, Immanuel, the Bright and Morning Star . . . Jesus you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life . . . You are the Living Christ and Resurrected Lord! AMEN and AMEN!
The Table is also a weekly appearance of Christ among us . . . you’ll receive a piece of bread and receive a spoken blessing from the server. Then you’ll receive a small cup of juice and receive a spoken blessing from the server. Look in the eyes of those blessing you and come awake like the two in Emmaus: your eyes open, you come awake, and your heart burns within you.
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.