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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

EASTER | Resurrection of Our Lord

Lexegete™ | Year A | Matthew

Vigil of Easter - March 22, 2008
First Reading: Genesis 1:1 2:4a
Response: Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26 (1)
Second Reading: Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18, 8:6-18, 9:8-13
Response: Psalm 46 (7)
Testing of Abraham
Third Reading: Genesis 22:1-18
Response: Psalm 16 (11)
Deliverance at the Red Sea
Fourth Reading: Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21
Response: Exodus 15:1b-13, 17-18 (1)
Salvation Freely Offered to All
Fifth Reading: Isaiah 55:1-11
Response: Isaiah 12:2-6 (3)
The Wisdom of God
Sixth Reading: Proverbs 8:1-8, 19-21; 9:4b-6
or Baruch 3:9-15, 32 4:4
Response: Psalm 19 (8)
A New Heart and a New Spirit
Seventh Reading: Ezekiel 36:24-28
Response: Psalms 42 and 43 (42:2)
Valley of the Dry Bones
Eighth Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Response: Psalm 143 (11)
Gathering of God's People
Ninth Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-20
Response: Psalm 98 (4)
Call of Jonah
Tenth Reading: Jonah 1:1 2:1
Response: Jonah 2:2-3 [4-6] 7-9 (9)
Clothed in the Garments of Salvation
Eleventh Reading: Isaiah 61:1-4, 9-11
Response: Deuteronomy 32:1-4, 7, 36a, 43a (3-4)
Deliverance from the Fiery Furnace
Twelfth Reading: Daniel 3:1-29
Response: Song of the Three Young Men 35-65 (35)
New Testament Reading
Romans 6:3-11
John 20:1-18
Color: White/Gold


March 23, 2008

Acts 10:34-43 or Jeremiah 31:1-6
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 (24)
Colossians 3:1-4 or Acts 10:34-43
Matthew 28:1-10 or John 20:1-18
Color: White/Gold

EASTER EVENING | March 23, 2008

Isaiah 25:6-9
Psalm 114 (7)
1 Corinthians 5:6b-8
Luke 24:13-49
Color: White/Gold

EASTER MONDAY | March 24, 2008

[ These Propers may be used for a service on Easter Monday
or on another day during the week after Easter Day. ]

Daniel 12:1-3
Psalm 16:8-11 (9)
Acts 2:14, 22b-32
Matthew 28:9-15a


Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalm 45 (17) or Psalm 40:5-10 (8)
Hebrews 10:4-10
Luke 1:26-38

1a. CONTEXT: Matthew 28:1-10

As Matthew retells the Marcan story he adds some special material
in which there is an abundance of miraculous phenomena related to the
opening of the tomb. There is an earthquake, an angel descends from
heaven, rolls away the stone, and sits upon it; and frightened soldiers are
rendered harmless. Another block of special material is the account of the
appearance of the risen Christ to two women named, Mary.

A critical comparison of the Matthean narration with others shows
the existence of some tensions over such matters as the identity of the
first witnesses, the mood of the women, and whether the resurrection
appearances took place in Galilee, Judea, or both. These tensions over
details may indeed be less a credibility problem than an indication of the
lack of collusion on the part of the editors and eye witnesses.

As Matthew brings us to the tomb on the morning of the first day of
the week and shows us that it is empty, and lets us hear the angel's
announcement, "He is not here for he has risen AS HE SAID," we can recall
earlier sayings in 12:40, 17:23, 20:19, and 26:32. And as we hear the
urgency of the angel's instructions (and subsequently Jesus' instructions)
to tell the disciples to meet him (when he further commissions them to go
into all the world...), we see our text as one strong link in a long chain of
messages from God to the readers of Matthew's Gospel. And if it is so that
Matthew is indeed writing in the later days of the first century, then his
readers had already heard the story many times before; and that fact
makes his text speak even more appropriately for our audience today.

1b. TEXT: Matthew 28:1-10

28:1 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he [1] lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”


[1] 28:6 Some manuscripts the Lord


1οψε δε σαββατων, τη επιφωσκουση εις μιαν σαββατων, ηλθεν μαριαμ η μαγδαληνη και η αλλη μαρια θεωρησαι τον ταφον. 2και ιδου σεισμος εγενετο μεγας: αγγελος γαρ κυριου καταβας εξ ουρανου και προσελθων απεκυλισεν τον λιθον και εκαθητο επανω αυτου. 3ην δε η ειδεα αυτου ως αστραπη και το ενδυμα αυτου λευκον ως χιων. 4απο δε του φοβου αυτου εσεισθησαν οι τηρουντες και εγενηθησαν ως νεκροι. 5αποκριθεις δε ο αγγελος ειπεν ταις γυναιξιν, μη φοβεισθε υμεις, οιδα γαρ οτι ιησουν τον εσταυρωμενον ζητειτε: 6ουκ εστιν ωδε, ηγερθη γαρ καθως ειπεν: δευτε ιδετε τον τοπον οπου εκειτο. 7και ταχυ πορευθεισαι ειπατε τοις μαθηταις αυτου οτι ηγερθη απο των νεκρων, και ιδου προαγει υμας εις την γαλιλαιαν, εκει αυτον οψεσθε: ιδου ειπον υμιν. 8και απελθουσαι ταχυ απο του μνημειου μετα φοβου και χαρας μεγαλης εδραμον απαγγειλαι τοις μαθηταις αυτου. 9και ιδου ιησους υπηντησεν αυταις λεγων, χαιρετε. αι δε προσελθουσαι εκρατησαν αυτου τους ποδας και προσεκυνησαν αυτω. 10τοτε λεγει αυταις ο ιησους, μη φοβεισθε: υπαγετε απαγγειλατε τοις αδελφοις μου ινα απελθωσιν εις την γαλιλαιαν, κακει με οψονται. Online Text Copyright Info

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;

The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition
© 1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. ANALYSIS: Matthew 28:1-10

Matthew 28:1 - "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary" - Here is a link to the
previous scene of 27:56,61. - τηεορεσαι τον ταπηον - Matthew has these
women in much more of a spectator role than does Mark as he shows them
coming to annoint the body.

28:2 - σεισμοσ εγενετο μεγασ - Matthew introduces the reader to seismic
phenomena; again the ground shakes from a great earthquake! In many
ancient writings divine interventions were often shown to be accompanied
by earthquakes:

God appears at Sinai (Ex. 19:18) and at Horeb (I Kings 19:1f.) with
accompanying earthquakes, and there are numerous other such references,
not the least of which are Isa. 29:5-9 and Jer. 4:19-31. In many prophetic
passages the last judgment is portrayed as a "great earthquake" (Ezek.
37:1-14; Zech. 14:1-8; Matt. 24; Rev.11). Of course the most recent
happened on Friday (mt. 27:51). - ⎛ανγελοσ γαρ κψριου καταβαs - It would
seem that his role is that of proclaimer and revealer, therefore his rolling
of the stone from the tomb is to display its emptiness and not to free
Jesus from its seal. It is interesting to note that he is described as
seated on the stone.

28:3 - ∍αστραπει...ενδυμα... λευκον...ηοσ χηιον - In a similar manner to the
earthquake reference, Matthew here uses the language of theophany and of
divine interruption. See descriptions of the transfigured Jesus in Mt. 17:2
and the angel of Rev. 10:1.

28:4 - οι τερουντεσ...ηοσ νεκροι - This is unsoldierly conduct, but given the
circumstances, not surprising.

28:5 - Με πηοβειστηε ηυμειs - Here is a common angelic message; recall
the words of an angel in Matt. 1, and Luke 1 and 2.

28:6 - κατηοσ ειπεν - Recall his earlier statements about the sign of
Jonah, and about the "Son of Man going up to Jerusalem raised on
the third day."

28:7 - ταχυ- introduces the beginning of a sense of motion in this text;
from now on things happen quickly and with movement. Note that Matthew
omits the reference to telling Peter and merely says, "tell his disciples."

28:8 - μετα πηοβου και χηαρασ μεγαλεs - Differing from Mark's reference
to fear, Matthew includes no "trembling" but couples the fear with "great
joy." This same expression is used by Luke (24:52) to describe the mood of
the disciples returning to Jerusalem with the promise of "power from on

28:9 - χηαιρετε , a formula of greeting much like our own, "good morning."

εκρατησαν uses words which originally referred to the body language of
adoration of a deity; Matthew tends to use (προσκυνεο) to declare an inner
attitude (as he did earlier with the posture of the Magi in 2:11).

28:10 - τοισ αδελπηοισ μουυ - This would seem to be a term of affection.
κακει με ∍οπσονται - This points to an important meeting, a
post-resurrection appearance where he meets "his brethren" with the
great commission, and the promise, "behold, I am with you..."

3. STRATEGY: Matthew 28:1-10

The first step in developing a strategy is that of analyzing one's
audience. Assuming that this text is preached on Easter Morning, there are several
things one can take for granted: the congregation is larger than usual; the
preacher is tired from the busy, previous week (or last night’s VIGIL); the congregation consists of a combination of regular and annual attenders; both kinds need to hear
the Gospel; and finally, the resurrection is central. With the resurrection
as central, we now consider several homiletical directions one might go
with this text.

The earthquake and the language of theophany are significant for
our preaching. As Paul Minear has remarked, "Nothing is more threatening
to established securities, more symptomatic of revolutionary change,
more conducive to panic, than an earthquake." (INTERPRETATION, January
1984, p. 60). If the preacher, and his congregation, have been accustomed
to hearing and telling this story over and over again (as we suspect was so
with Matthew's first readers) then one may wish to confront such
questions as "When for us does the ground shake?" and "When do angelic
messages send us running 'in the mist of fear and great joy'?"

Another direction is that of the running and telling. It is
noteworthy that Jesus' words are a repetition of those of the angel; these
must be important words! Added to these words, he says, "there they will
see me"--not to prove the fact of the resurrection, but to be met by him,
sent by him to be proclaimers to the world, to proclaim what the angel
announced to the women: "He is risen."

It is said that there have been times in the church's history when it
was customary for an Easter sermon to begin with the telling of a joke,
that this was even so in the earliest days of Lutheran Orthodoxy. One then wonders
if Matthew's telling of the Easter story might not have set the course for
such a style; for here we have here such components of humor as the element of
surprise, a changed ending to a story, and a discovery of the unexpected.
And so Matthew is carefulto mention an angel uses the stone as a seat (he
even speaks ex cathedra); and soldiers who are sent to guard a corpse end
up "as dead men."

The earthquake itself has a way of doing something to all that would, in
vanity, claim permanence for itself, even a tomb ( and all it signifies).
The Greek word for earthquake and for trembling (of guards) is from the
same root; likewise Jesus' greeting and the word for joy (of the women) is
similarly derived--there is room for a few puns also. What a fine
opportunity for the preacher to try his wings at a few one-liners...say,
have you heard the one about the tomb?

Briefly, some other emphases for sermon direction may be found in
the following: (a) the contrast of the trembling of the guards and the
lively fear and great joy of the women, (b) the change from "his disciples"
to "my brethren," (c) and finally, the reference to "Jesus, who was
crucified...he is risen as he said." Here is an opportunity to emphasize that
the cross is more than tragic but that it has a power to heal and enliven
which comes from God's having vindicated that way of suffering in the
triumph of Easter.

4. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: Matthew 28:1-10

There is a superabundance of hymns available for this festival, but
two are here suggested because they are not usually listed under the
category of Easter Hymn. "At the Lamb's High Feast" (LBW #210,HB 174)
contains great references to the Sacrament and to Easter, and being set to
a catchy old German folk tune, it is a pleasure to sing. "Jesus Christ My
Sure Defense" (LBW 340) catches the spirit of this text; it was once
described as a "masterpiece of Christian poetry" and was part of a
publication intended to bring unity between Lutheran and Reformed
communions. And, of course, "Hail Thee, Festival Day" ( LBW 142, HB 175)
and "Jesus Christ is ris'n today" (LBW 151, HB 207) are standard at Easter.

Exegete: Rev. John Nieman is Pastor of Christ Lutheran, West Boylston, MA.




Dartmouth,MA 02747


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