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Text Study for Easter Sunday

The Rev. Joseph Winston


April 24, 2011

Commentary
Acts 10:34-43
The author of Luke/Acts describes a theological “lecture” of Peter. In this text,
Peter makes the bold theological statement that God shows no favorites in the
world rather God accepts all of those who fear God and follow God’s law. This
assertion that God “shows no partiality” flies in the face of the Old Testament sto-
ries of exclusive blessings to Abraham and his family. It also stands in opposition
to most Christian traditions that teach either single or double predestination. For
Lutherans in specific, another problem with this text is that God loves those who
do what God wants. Peter then summarizes Christ’s message down to one word,
“peace.” Next, Peter outlines the story of how John the Baptizer and Jesus bring
of peace. Peter tells the crowd that they are the ones who have seen all of this,
including Christ’s death and resurrection. Peter then intimates a detail known to
him that few chosen ones saw the risen Lord. There Jesus told them to preach
that Jesus is the One who will judge all. There is no information presented if this
judgement occurs using the same “peace” that was the keynote of Christ’s life on
earth or not. One can assume that this peace continues when Jesus judges. The
section closes with the assertion that all the prophets speak of Jesus, which is one
of the primary findings of the council of Chalcedon held in 451 AD. Peter tells us
that belief is what gives us Christ’s forgiveness.

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Psalm 118
The author of this psalm of praise gives God the glory by affirming all the work
the L ORD does. God save the people who follow the L ORD. God listens to the
please of His followers. The L ORD takes what the world rejects and converts it
into something special.

Psalm 118:1 O give thanks to the L ORD, for he is good – This first line sets the
tone for the psalm. The author lifts up his voice in praise because he sees
first hand what the L ORD is doing in the world.
his steadfast love endures for ever – In the attribute that we call time or
existence, the author makes the assertion that care for creation is something
that never ends.

Psalm 118:2 Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures for ever.” – The call to
the congregation is for them to repeat this line. In other words, it appears
this psalm is part of a liturgy. The leader begins and asks the men to affirm
the truth.

...

Psalm 118:14 The L ORD is my strength and my might – The attributes listed here
are those associated with a powerful warrior or king.
he has become my salvation – The essence of the L ORD has allowed Him
to bring healing and wholeness to those in need.

Psalm 118:15 There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous – The
force that the L ORD brings to the situation has caused the tide to change.
However, this attitude stands in striking contrast to the Christ Hymn in
Philippians and all the other illustrations that can be found of a God who
serves humanity including giving up life so that the unworthy might live.

Psalm 118:16 the right hand of the L ORD is exalted – The arm that swings the
battle axe, the hand that pulls back the arrow, the fist the controls the sword
is praised. This imagery of a God that fights to win a place for His people is
completely different that One who proclaims the end of war.

Psalm 118:17 I shall not die, but I shall live – The reason for life is not that God
dies so that creation might live. Instead, it is a God who destroys the enemy
so that His people might live in freedom.

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Psalm 118:18 The L ORD has punished me severely – Let it be know, says the
author, that I am not perfect and with this reality, comes correction.

Psalm 118:19 Open to me the gates of righteousness – From a liturgical point of


view, the procession is about to move into a sacred area.

Psalm 118:20 the righteous shall enter through it – Only the ones that carry this
mark are allowed to pass over the threshold.

Psalm 118:21 I thank you that you have answered me – Praise comes because
the L ORD hears prayer.

Psalm 118:22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cor-
nerstone. – A new thing is happening in the land. The wise and trained
overlooked this one. The L ORD who knows all sees otherwise and builds a
different future than before.

Psalm 118:23 it is marvellous in our eyes – The people experience it since ev-
eryone can see its grace and beauty.

Psalm 118:24 This is the day that the L ORD has made – A call to remind the
congregation that the L ORD is in charge of the world.

Colossians 3:1-4
The author argues that the appropriate Christian behavior is that of striving for the
things that please God. By focusing on what is not of this world, hidden if you
will, at death all things will be made clear including the believer’s love of Christ.

Colossians 3:1 if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above
– The assumption is that followers of Jesus need to keep their attention
focused on the prize at the end of the race or the behavior that God the
Father approves of.

Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on
earth – The world with its cares should not hold you down.

Colossians 3:3 for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God –
The reality that others cannot fully see is that the Christian is already dead.
Judgement has passed and the believer is already one with Jesus.

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Colossians 3:4 When Christ who is your life is revealed – The viewpoint is that
the second coming of Jesus is imminent and when this occurs, the belief of
those who followed Jesus will be justified as being worthwhile.

Matthew 28:1-10
On Sunday, at sunrise, Mary Magdalene and another Mary when to
the tomb. On the way, an earthquake happened because an angel of
the Lord rolled the stone from the mouth of the tomb. The angel was
bright and he sat on the stone. This caused the guards to faint. To the
two Marys, the angel said, “Jesus the dead One is gone. He has been
raised. See! Go and tell the followers to meet Him in Galilee. You
will see Him there. This word is for you.” They left with happiness
and fear and ran to tell the others. Jesus appears and said, “Morn-
ing/Rejoice/Hi.” They worshiped Him. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid.
Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee. There they will see me.” –
Author’s translation

Matthew 28:1 was dawning – Matthew uses ἐπιφωσκούσῃ to indicate the time at
sunrise.
There is no account in the New Testament about the Resurrection; what we
have instead are the empty tomb and the times that Jesus appears.1
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary – These woman were at His death
(Matthew 27:56) and the burial (Matthew 27:61).

Matthew 28:2 a great earthquake – The other times that Matthew uses σεισμὸς
is when Jesus still the storm (Matthew 8:24), the discussion about the end
(Matthew 24:7), and the resurrection of the dead saints (Matthew 27:54).

Matthew 28:3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.
– The angel almost looks like Jesus during the transfiguration (Matthew
17:2).

Matthew 28:4 became like dead men – Apparently, the earthquake and the angel
overpowered the guards and they were not able to keep Jesus in the tomb.
1
Daniel J. Harrington, S.J.; Idem, editor, The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, Sacra Pagina
Series, (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1991), p. 411.

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Matthew 28:5 the angel said – The angel provides for the audience an explana-
tion of what has transcribed. This is the traditional role for angels since the
book of Zechariah.2

Matthew 28:6 He is not here; for he has been raised – The second does not imply
the first because resurrection does not mean that the person must move.
At this time in history, resurrection for the Jews is to happen at the end of
time.3 This gift from God restores a complete body to life in the community
for the righteous and for the unjust they either enter eternal punishment or
are removed from existance.4
Late texts such as Daniel 12:1-3 along with Maccabees 7 give some back-
ground on resurrection.5 This is the exception. Ezekiel 37:1-14; Hosea 6:1-
2; Hosea 13:14 speak of the “restoration of Israel.”6 Genesis 5:21-24; 1
Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 2:1-13; 2 Kings 4:20-37; Isaiah 53:10; Psalm
16:10 address new life for the individual.7 There appears to be a devel-
opment of a way to think about resurrection in Isaiah 25:8; Isaiah 26:19.8

Matthew 28:7 tell his disciples – In a very real sense, the women become disci-
ples to the disciples.
to Galilee – This recalls Matthew 26:32.
This is my message for you – This sounds to modern ears like an “end of
transmission.” This is all I can give you, is this message and nothing more.

Matthew 28:8 they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell
his disciples – The woman are not reduced to a quivering mass of emotion.
They go and tell.

Matthew 28:9 Suddenly Jesus met – The women did not expect this encounter
since Jesus is on His way to Galilee.
Greetings! – Not only does Jesus recognize the two woman but they also
know who He is.
2
Harrington, The Gospel of Matthew, p. 409.
3
Ibid., p. 411.
4
Ibid.
5
Ibid.
6
Ibid., p. 411-412.
7
Ibid., p. 412.
8
Ibid.

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took hold of his feet – While falling to their faces, the woman grab hold of
Jesus as if they do not want Him to go.

Matthew 28:10 Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee – Jesus


gives practically the same message as the angel.

References
Harrington, S.J., Daniel J.; Idem, editor, The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, Sacra
Pagina Series, (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1991).