A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Upcoming Sunday Scripture Commentary - March 22

Sermon (March 22) - "Different Robes of Jesus: Burial Robe"

I Corinthians 15:53-57

This is TOTALLY at the very top of my favorite scriptures list! In this chapter of his letter, the Apostle Paul explains the meaning of "resurrection." By resurrection, Paul is NOT referring to a "spiritual" non-physical state of being. The resurrection body is physical, just not subject to sin, illness, and death. This is what resurrection meant in the 1st century Jewish world.

This chapter depends on the readers having the particular Jewish worldview that there is the present age and a time is coming when heaven and earth will fully overlap and sin and death will be no more. When heaven and earth come together completely, God will give raise up the faithful and give them resurrected bodies. Jesus' resurrection was a foretaste of what awaits God's people at the close of the present age.

When people are given resurrection bodies, they will be changed and transformed and this will happen in an instant.

Many people today misinterpret this passage because our culture's worldview has changed significantly since the Jewish worldview of the 1st century. Their worldview believed that heaven and earth were two separate parts of God's creation. Today, we often see heaven and earth as far away from each other. The Jewish worldview believes that they are closer than we think and the future hope is that one day they will fully unite.

The word, "victory" is the greek word, "Nikos," the name of my blog.

Matthew 27:57-61

Matthew creatively helps us to see how this burial story of Jesus actually hints at what is to happen on Easter morning. We are told that Jesus was placed in a new tomb and it sealed with a large stone. In the 1st century, the body would have been wrapped, placed on one of the shelves. Tombs contained several shelves and several bodies. After the body decomposed, the bones would have been gathered and placed in a box.

In our Gospel reading, since the tomb was new, there were no other bodies. Jesus' body was the first one. Also, since Joseph had to request Pilate for the body, Matthew is showing us that Jesus had really died. People who believe that Jesus' really didn't die and somehow escaped and got married and lived a normal life, etc., etc.,  do not understand Roman crucifixion.

Jesus' main disciples were in hiding which tells us that there was no plot by the primary followers of Jesus to steal the body and then invent a resurrection story to make everybody feel good about a tragic situation.

Finally, Matthew is also careful to let us know that the women who found the tomb on Easter morning were the same women who were at the tomb on Friday evening so they knew which tomb to visit.

None of these details provided by the gospel writer, Matthew prove that Jesus' was resurrected. It does raise the question, if these details were reported correctly, why wouldn't we be open to the possibility that Jesus was resurrected from the dead? For many people, our worldview will not allow us to be open to this possibility. Maybe, something is wrong with our worldview that says that things like this cannot happen!

[Note: The resources used for these scripture reading commentaries are based on the Everyone series by NT Wright, Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, The Wesley Study Bible, and the “Montreal-Anglican”lectionary commentaries.]

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