A very happy Easter to all.
Despite lockdown, Covid and everything else, may you truly experience the joy of the Resurrection of Our Lord!
Easter has been very different again this year, but thanks to the very hard work of many people, we are able to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord in a worthy manner.
Huge thanks to all who have helped with stewarding at all services, cleaning and sanitising the church after each service.
Two disciples and a ‘stranger’ on the road to Emmaus
The Evening of the Day of Resurrection
THE EMPTY TOMB AND THE TIDY CLOTH John 20:1-9
These are mentioned almost side by side only in the Gospel of John account of disciples hearing of the empty tomb and the Beloved Disciple and Peter rushing off to the tomb see what has happened. Famously, Peter and the other disciple see the open tomb the lack of Jesus’ body, and cloths lying around. Although the Gospel writer doesn’t explicitly mention it, Peter hasn’t a clue as to what he is supposed to do. The other disciple sees the same things as Peter, but in them, he remembers what Jesus had said at the Supper, “In a short time you will no longer see me, and then a short time later you will see me again.” (John 16:16). The ‘other disciple’ at the tomb seems to have remembered this or similar words of Jesus and when he sees that one of the cloths in the tomb has ben folded up neatly.
There is a tradition in parts of the Middle East including Israel and Palestine where at a formal dinner, if the host so called away, the host will take his napkin (soudarion in Greek) and used it as a sign. If the host expects to return to the dinner table soon, he will neatly fold his soudarion and place it on the table. If he expects to be away for a long time, he will crumple his napkin (soudarion) and drop it on the floor – a sign that guests were not to wait for him, but continue with their meal. It seems that the ‘disciple’ in John 20:1-9 interpreted the sign of the napkin as one whereby Jesus has fold the cloth covering his face as a sign that he would return. That is in fact what Jesus does in the very next episode.
In a short time you will no longer see me, and then a short time later you will see me again.’
The empty tomb – a feature of all resurrection stories
The Gospels of Luke and John have similarities with each other which the other two Gospels do not have. One of these similarities lies in Jesus giving a very physical demonstration that he has truly risen from the dead, and that he is not a ghost.
On the 2nd Sunday of Easter, we had that well known passage (read on this Sunday every year) where Thomas, who had been elsewhere when Jesus appeared to terrified disciples in a locked and bolted room, stated that he would not believe Jesus had risen until he could put his hands in Jesus’ pierced side, and his finger into the holes in his hands, caused by the nails. interestingly, there is no mention of Thomas taking up the offer (despite the very graphic picture of Caravaggio shown above.) It seems that Thomas believes totally that Jesus is indeed risen when he hears the sound of the voice of the Risen Lord. This fits perfectly with the Prologue to John’s Gospel where Kesus is introduced as the Word of God who became flesh.
This theology of John is very well developed, as we might expect from a Gospel which was written perhaps as much as 80 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. In today’s gospel there is a similar story about frightened disciples and Jesus proving he is NOT a ghost by eating a piece of fish! It’s an illustration of how similar stories seem to describe similar settings. but one is more sophisticated than the other. Luke’s gospel was written perhaps 40-50 years before John’s, so the development of theology from Luke’s time to John’s.
The main point, which is of course stressed in all gospels, is that Jesus DID rise from the dead. To deny the resurrection is to depart from the Christian tradition!