EASTERTIDE: FOURTH DAY

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

Matthew 28:2-4; Matthew 28:11-15

Eastertide Prayer: God of Promise and God of Hope, who through your great mercy have granted us new birth through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we praise your wonderful name! God of Glory and God of Might who through your great power have granted us new strength to endure all things through faith in Christ our risen King, to exert ourselves vigorously to get in through the narrow gate, we praise your wonderful name! Amen. Ora Pro Nobis.

Telling the truth requires excitement, courage, and love. Two groups of people, the women who came to care for Jesus’ body and the Roman guards, had the privilege of witnessing the resurrected Christ and the empty tomb – even an angel! They could have told everyone they knew what they had seen and experienced. Only the women told the truth. The guards, out of fear, took a bribe and agreed to lie and spread a false report to satisfy two groups afraid the truth would take away their power: the Chief priests, and by implication, the Governor and by extension, Rome. One of the things a Christian has to endure in these last days is false report or false witness against them and their character – the breaking of the eighth commandment. It was one of the first things that happened after Jesus was resurrected. It was the first glimpse of that narrow gate lovers of Jesus have to go through that leads to everlasting life.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Matthew 7:13-14

For most people, it is easier to tell a lie than to tell the truth, the whole and complete truth. When we are children, we tend to blurt out the truth, sometimes in embarrassing, even humorous ways. But as we get older and face undesirable reactions against us from others who may be threatened or embarrassed by the truth coming out, we are tempted to lie.

Jesus invited a little child to stand among them. “Truly I tell you,” He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.…

Matthew 18:3

The biggest embarrassment and threat to those who oppose God in this world is that they cannot solve our problems, neither through promoting nature (environmentalism) nor opposing it (industrialism). As Chesterton observed, both the awful realization (on their part) and the “awful exultation” (on ours) of that truth is that it requires faith that God has already done it. He has done it through the One who has emphatically stated: “I am making all things new.” That faith is what raises us and separates us from the dead who walk this world and refuse entry to the narrow gate.

“In this Spring more than all the other Springs, in this Easter more than all other Easters, we have to face the awful exaltation of that truth. I mean the truth that Resurrection is of faith and not of any false analogy from the senses or the seasons. Three things at least, peculiar to the present time, prevent us from identifying that hope with a revival or riot of vegetation. First, the beautiful condition to which a few centuries of progress have reduced half the landscapes of the land. Remembered summer does not shine along the grass in Pudsey or Wigan, because there is no grass to shine. The natural life of things does not proclaim the Resurrection in Sheffield and Huddersfield, because the life of things is not natural. It is only the supernatural life that dares to proclaim it there. Poets cannot describe the town landscapes as changing with the spring. They cannot say that in the spring a brighter scarlet glows in the suburban pillar-box, or in the spring the wanton policeman gets himself another crest or even another helmet. It is only human hopefulness that can see any hope in the human institution of the pillar-box; and only by a great act of faith do we affirm that policemen shall rise again from the dead. Nature cannot help us now, even as a symbol; for industrialism has destroyed the natural, but it cannot destroy the supernatural….

Lastly, the very task before us is enough to prove that things begin in the mind and that the spirit must blow its trumpet before any resurrection. For we are trying to bring back a Spring that as yet only exists in the spirit; to create grass and green things which must exist in a dream before they can exist in a landscape; the growth of which will be a miracle in the sense of something turning back the whole trend and movement of the earth. A Revolution is a mild thing compared with a Resurrection; and nothing less can raise us from the dead.

G.K. Chesterton: G. K.’s Weekly, March 26th, 1932

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