Matthew 27:62 to 28:15
Where do you find your security?
Security is almost everyone’s concern in the last chapters of the Gospel.
Think about it.
Those who arrest Jesus in the garden do so with the enhanced security of clubs and swords.
The disciples find their security that night when they run away into the cover of darkness.
Peter then swears an oath three times that he doesn’t know Jesus. Three denials to get himself off the hook and keep him secure.
Pilate’s wife tries to keep her husband safe from this humble yet powerful man who stands before him by sending Pilate a word to not have ‘anything to do with that innocent man’ [Verse 27:19].
Jesus is secured by chains and ropes and armed guards and led away to be tied, nailed and secured to two planks of wood and guarded while he dies.
Then, even after Jesus is safely dead, the chief priests want the security and witness of guards to ensure that the body is not stolen. It’s not just the Romans and the Pharisees who desire security – it’s us too.
Turn on the TV – everything from car tyre treads to insurance [life, house, care, death and funeral] are marketed in 30 second snippets to offer us security from the threats of illness, climate, accident, financial downturns, even supposedly death.
It must work for security was utmost in the mind of Pilate, Peter and the disciples and the Pharisees.
This rug [show crocheted rug] made by and given to me by my grandmother more than fifty years ago – is like a ‘security’ blanket – remember Linus’ blanket from the cartoon ‘peanuts’. It has always been with me – it is a memory of the past – a past that was secure and family we thought would never die or never leave. It is tangible in a world of intangibles, it is familiar and safe.
The tyre tread commercials are often set on slippery wet night roads, with a woman driving with partner and child strapped in. The cliché goes that the tread in these tyres will get you and your loved ones home safely.
Political ads often have a more subtle message – usually about alleviating fear and increasing security.
‘We will be tough on crime, we will secure our borders, we will protect you from all enemies, both domestic and foreign, we will even protect you from those opposition parties.’
Everyone is interested in keeping us safe – anti-virus software, phone monitoring, going through airport scans, beefing up roadside breath tests at Easter, etc.
Everything can be sold as a way to keep us free from threat to our security.
Then along comes this man, claiming to be the son of God. Someone who leaves the security of the boat to walk on water, someone who leaves his trade and family for the insecurity of evangelism, someone who leaves behind the necessities of life to walk in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights, someone who leaves the security of the group to take on demons, threatening crowds, Roman governors and religious leaders.
This man who has known threats and loneliness, hunger and grief kept walking on towards Jerusalem and the insecurity it offered to him.
And now the likes of Peter follow Jesus to his crucifixion, but only at a safe distance. Pilate can live in the mistaken belief that he can wash his hands and declare himself innocent and the chief priests can think they can secure Jesus in a sealed tomb.
But, then, this human idea of security runs up against an earthquake. When the tectonic plates are shifting, the sky turns black, the cyclone happens and the temple curtain rips, a sturdy tyre tread is not much help.
Neither is a guard of Roman soldiers.
They run away with the earthquake and the appearance of an Angel who looks like lightning.
Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, at least maintain consciousness and a stony silence in the Angel’s presence.
Then we hear for the first time anew, the Angel says ‘Be not afraid’. Jesus is risen. They run to tell the disciples with ‘joy’ in their hearts. [These first two evangelists.]
On the way they run into Jesus, who also says ‘do not be afraid’- and indeed it is the last time anyone speaks of fear and insecurity in this Gospel.
In saying ‘Do not be afraid’ Jesus makes it clear that what could have happened did not – the car did not run off the road.
Instead we go back to the beginning where we were held securely. Jesus tells Mary to say to the disciples that they are to go to Galilee to see him. The place where the mission began.
A return to the security of that space, time and place.
The disciples too would soon step out of the boat, to leave their security behind – but also this humanly insecurity behind. They began to speak, to preach and serve with boldness. They were not afraid of people who scoffed at their claims or demons who stood against them. And they were free of the fear to what the established power structure could do to them.
What might that kind of freedom mean for you today? How might it change the way you listen to the nightly news? How might it change the mess you see in your life? How might it change the way you see the stranger in the street? Would fear and threat own you and define you or would you be redeemed?
Do not be afraid – yes – tectonic plates are shifting, but it is because God is creating a new Heaven and a new Earth.
Do not be afraid – Your life and your security are where they have always been – wrapped in nail scarred hands of the risen Christ.
Brother and Sisters let us say with confidence in the light of this wonderful Easter morn.
Christ is risen
Response: He is Risen indeed!
Risen Lord Jesus, victorious over death, in compassion for your troubled friends, you appeared in many places that they might dare to trust again. In a world full of so much fear and insecurity, strengthen us also with signs of your presence. Meet us on the way so that we might be no longer afraid.
Free us from everything that would lead us to doubt your love for us and for the world.
May we not only live in the security of your redeeming love but may it inspire our witness to the joy and the hope of your resurrection.