During this week I’ve been reading all 4 of the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection- in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and now today in John’s Gospel…
Now its interesting in a slightly geeky way to put the 4 accounts alongside each other and compare them- look how Luke describes the angels, and how Mark mentions this persons name etc, but the problem is that it misses the point- the resurrection and the 4 accounts of it in the Gospels aren’t about who said what and where the angels were sitting, but about the fact that the anticipated dead man (Jesus, in case you’d missed it) was not in the tomb. I’m sure there’s evidence and theories about how it works with multiple accounts of an event- whether its important that the incidental details are the same or not- some people would undoubtedly view these variations as pointing to the truth of the accounts, while others would draw the opposite conclusion from the same evidence. I remember a scene in the excellent film Unknown where Liam Neeson is recalling some incidental fact about a man he knows… and someone else tells the same story word-for-word… (you’ll have to watch the film to figure out what’s going on)… do the details conceal or reveal anything important? I’m sure there’s a book worth writing in there, but not today.
Today, its the central aspect that I want to think about- the Resurrection. Did it happen? Well, the body went missing, and no one produced it later. The disciples were convinced enough to carry on following Jesus and proclaiming his resurrection (which for the previous few days they hadn’t been doing… interesting), and most of them were convinced enough to stick with it despite threats of and actual torture or death. Did it have to happen? I mean, can’t Jesus still be the Son of God and forgive us etc without the resurrection? Well, it seems to me that it was the proof of his previous claims- i can forgive/heal/judge/invite etc because I’m the Son of God. You’ll know I’m the Son of God because they’ll kill me, and i’ll rise again. Oh, and here he is… Did folks expect it to happen? Looks like they didn’t, just like they didn’t seem to expect him to die, and they never got quite used to the miracles etc… Jesus was constantly doing and saying amazing things, but they didn’t become ‘normal’. There’s something challenging for me there…
SO what’s peculiar in v4.0, in John chapters 20-21?
Matthew’s gospel uses the resurrection as a platform for world mission- Jesus tells the disciples to go, and that he’ll be with them.
Mark has a similar slant, but with an emphasis on forgiveness
Luke reminds us of the Holy Spirit ‘wait till the Spirit comes’
And John? John uses it to tell 4 human stories, at the end of his gospel with its cosmic scale. Remember this is the one that starts ‘In the beginning was the Word…’ Well as it concludes we read about Mary who Jesus healed and spoke to on the morning he rose again, Thomas who doubted what he didn’t have proof for but was willing to change his mind, Peter who needed to be forgiven for what he’d done and brought back into relationship with Jesus, and John himself who stands to one side, constant and faithful. The resurrection of the Son of God, through whom the world was made, had an immediate and profound impact on the lives of normal people- that’s what John’s being saying all along, and he hasn’t changed his tune.
Today, let the possibility that the Gospel might be true enter into your life, and the chance of resurrection change your perspective.