Close-up of red, yellow, purple, and orange spring flowers in a garden

Matthew 28:9-15

Jesus met Mary Magdalene and the other Mary and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You must say, `His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.

Good morning this Easter Monday! I pray you had a lovely Resurrection Sunday even if you weren’t able to worship in your churches and experience the explosion of flowers, brass and timpani, and the rowdy renditions of “Welcome Happy Morning.”

Let me begin by saying that I don’t like this lectionary scripture one bit. It’s such a let-down compared to what the women experience at the tomb. Can you imagine the “fear and great joy,” the rapture flowing through the two Marys as they run to tell the male disciples that their Resurrected Jesus will be meeting them in Galilee?

But then everything gets bogged down in…politics. The Roman guards make their witness: The tomb is empty; Jesus has risen. And the religious authorities…freak out. You can practically hear the air leaking out of the Good News: Ssssssssssss….

What I don’t like about this story is the existential disappointment it instills. In the face of a great miracle—the greatest—human nature just…keeps doing what it always does. Love Incarnate is greeted with “CYA” machinations, pay-offs and the cynical dissemination of fake news. The chief priests cannot, even for a minute, revel in the revelation—that prophecy has been fulfilled, and that God, their God, has raised this Jewish Rabbi from the dead. I guess it’s not the content and writing of this story that bothers me, but its timing. This utterly mundane first-century politicking just doesn’t comport with Easter Monday. (Please understand that I am not making an anti-Semitic judgement, but a commentary on human nature.) Couldn’t the priests have waited a few more days before giving in to their own…worldliness?

So what’s the takeaway? Right now, today, we have been given new life, a new chance. Renewal. Resurrection. The ultimate gift, afforded us by way of the ultimate miracle. So for now, then, let us not try to make excuses, cover up, or blame our missteps on anyone else. At least not so reflexively. Let us admit we were wrong. Let us accept the gift of forgiveness emanating from the empty tomb. Let us celebrate the way our own resurrections can happen anew each morning.

Welcome Happy Morning my friends,

Gracious and loving Jesus, Help me to be elated in this moment. To be free from my life and its worries just this one day. To know that your resurrection was a gift just for me. Remind me to be still and bask in the awesomeness of your glory. For just one day. Let it be just you and me. Amen.