The Resurrection Of Our Lord

S. Easter.24 Matt. 28:1-10

We began our Lenten quest 40 days ago, with Jesus being baptized by John, starting us on a merry chase that continues today.

You will recall that, immediately after his baptism by John, Jesus was driven into the desert to be tempted but the devil. Fasting, those 40 days and nights, Jesus was hungry, and the devil’s first temptation is: “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread”. And the LORD answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’.”

Since Jesus is the Word of God in Person, keep that in mind.

That scene in the desert recalls another temptation of the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden. The world was a paradise, then. Adam and Eve had all they needed in the garden, but their main joy was this game of hide and seek God played with them. When they’d hear the sound of him—say, ‘in the cool of the evening breeze’, they’d chase; and they’d find, yet… not catch him. But the longing that inspired the chase was better than any apprehending.

During a lull in the Great Chase, the devil encounters Eve, contemplating next moves.

And the devil tricks Eve. He points to this one tree in the middle of the garden that God has forbidden them to eat of, and makes it look like more desirable food than chasing after God each day in the garden, trying to catch lightning in a bottle.

And after eating, and giving some to Adam—who, St. Paul says, knew it was a bad idea, but ate anyway, because, as a Babylon Bee survey found: ‘100% of men would eat any fruit offered to them by a beautiful naked woman’

they heard the sound of God walking in the garden in the cool of the evening breeze, but they didn’t chase after. They… hid. And thus, changed the whole nature of the Game. And the quest for more of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden was easily satisfied but brought boredom, toil, misery, death.

Which brings us back to Jesus. After taking on our sinful hunger, subduing it, he comes teaching and healing in the synagogues of Israel. We like the healing, generally; we’re not always so keen on the teaching that our desire for mastery and self-sufficiency is literally killing us. But, his words lure us to chase after, once more. Like Adam and Eve, the sound of God’s voice attracts, repels, gives fear and joy. Some chase, eagerly; many go… “shying away”.

Peter is paradigmatic. Jesus comes walking by the sea where Peter’s fishing (chasing fish can be very fun). Jesus commandeers Peter’s boat for a while and says: “let’s go catch some fish because I see you have none”. Simon says, “It’s because there’s none out there,” but Jesus dares him to cast on that side of the boat. Peter can’t resist a dare, and you know what happens: catches so many fish, boat’s sinking. Be careful what you wish for? 😉

And Peter says “Depart from me, LORD, for I am a sinful man”. He is drawn to Jesus and repelled at the same time. Dog catches car and doesn’t know what to do with it. It’s too big, too other than what he thought he wanted. But Jesus says, “Follow me, and we’ll catch something bigger and better than fish”.

And, for 3 years, Peter and about 120 others in their rag-tag beatnik crew have left everything else and gone chasing after Jesus down the dusty highways and byways of ancient Palestine.

Three days ago, they’re in a garden (again!) with Jesus. He’s praying. They’re sleeping. And suddenly, soldiers (led by Judas) come to haul Jesus to the cross and crucify him. And the desire for self-preservation, for a safer quest, overcomes them. They… flee, hide, again. And you know the rest: the trial, the beating, the mockery, the sighing, crucifying, bleeding, dying.

Peter goes back to fishing (for fish;-). But, Joseph of Arimathea claims Jesus’ body, buries it in his garden tomb. Why? Maybe he imagines we’ve finally caught God? Game over? We… win?

So, here we are, back in the garden. The women have trailed after Joseph. They are drawn to that garden tomb—has God finally been caught? Rather hoping not? The longing that is better than any catching has caught them, again. There’s the earthquake, the angels telling them “he is not here, he is risen, go to Galilee, and there you will see him.”

But, then… here he is! “Greetings”! Jesus says, laconically. And they take hold of his feet (you can still see the holes!) and worship him. Jesus shakes them off, challenges them to chase him some more, to Galilee. Game not over! Game very much on! Best hiding spot yet!

And here you are, this morning. On the same… chase as the first disciples. For reasons you cannot fully fathom, you also want to see Jesus. Chasing after him seems, strangely, more fulfilling than getting wisdom, wealth, power, longer life. Because, Easter… it’s not really about escaping the tomb, cheating death, uploading your consciousness to the cloud, is it?

Nah. It’s about a change of mind, a change of heart, a seismic shift in desire.

Thomas Aquinas said that Christianity is all about desire. God lures us on. If he just gave us food that fills us up, satisfied our bodily needs—if he were easy to catch, it would get… boring. So, Jesus teases us a little, plays with us, leads us on. He gives us a little taste of himself, his company, his game; and, despite (or, maybe, because of?) the dangers, you’ll want more.

Because here, as C.S. Lewis says, is sehnsucht, joythe longing better than any having. Jesus both gives us what we want while making us want more. And, because he is endless—oh! there’s so much more to want…(!)

Since we are, like Eve (and my cat, Tucker 😉 highly “food-motivated”, Jesus, Aquinas notes: makes himself FOOD for us in the Last Supper. “This is my Body” he says of the bread. “This is my Blood” he says of the wine in the cup. And we’re like “Huh? How can that be? Could it be better than… bacon? Easter breakfast. A tradition unlike any other.

And… we chase along after Joseph, the Marys. Get a peek in the tomb, for yourself; and wonder: who’s catching whom?

Did you know: the Graal legends were first written in Thomas Aquinas’ time? ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’s just a late installment. Charles William’s ‘War in Heaven’s even better. Graal quests are really about chasing after Jesus, finding… yet, never quite catching him.

We are still knights looking for the Grail—there over my shoulder. Jesus is luring you back to the Great Chase, getting you ‘On the Road’ like the holy hobos our first parents were. At his Table, now, you get a taste, catch a whiff of heaven that both satisfies the hungry heart and gets you chasing after him, wanting… more.

The longing better than any having. Happy hunting. For Christ is Risen…

About Pastor Martin

Pastor Kevin Martin has served six Lutheran congregations, beginning in 1986 as a field-worker in Trumbull, Connecticut, and vicarages in Arlington, Massachusetts and Belleville, Illinois. He has been pastor of congregations in Pembroke, Ontario and Akron, Ohio. Since 2000, he has served as pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church, Raleigh. Pastor Martin is a lifelong (confessional!) Lutheran (even though) he holds degrees from Valparaiso, Yale, and Concordia Seminary St. Louis. He and his wife Bonnie have been (happily) married since 1988, and have two (awesome!) adult children, Bethany and Christopher. Bonnie is an elementary school teacher. The Martin family enjoy music festivals, travel, golf, and swimming. They are also avid readers and movie-goers.

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