Red Letter Year: 6/12

Matthew 28:1-10

Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.

Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”

The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”


“Don’t be afraid,” the angel tells the women. We tend to think that unbelief is the opposite of faith, but often fear is the opposite of faith. Fear is believing more in your situation, more in the power of the enemy, than in the power of God to deliver you and defeat the enemy. The cure for fear and the establisher of faith is resurrection. Jesus does what he said he would do and returns from the dead. He appears personally to the women (and later the men) because faith in Jesus is not blind faith. This is a God only too happy to demonstrate his reality, hie life, his power, his victory over death. Don’t be afraid today. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead can transform your life as well.

The New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Red Letter Year: 2/18

Mark 12:13-27

13 Later the leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. 14 “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. You teach the way of God truthfully. Now tell us—is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay them, or shouldn’t we?”

Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said, “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me a Roman coin, and I’ll tell you.” 16 When they handed it to him, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

17 “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

His reply completely amazed them.

18 Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. They posed this question: 19 “Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife without children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name. 20 Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children. 21 So the second brother married the widow, but he also died without children. Then the third brother married her. 22 This continued with all seven of them, and still there were no children. Last of all, the woman also died. 23 So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her.”

24 Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. 25 For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven. 26 But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—haven’t you ever read about this in the writings of Moses, in the story of the burning bush? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said to Moses, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 27 So he is the God of the living, not the dead. You have made a serious error.”


The key to the first part of today’s reading is the understanding that all humans – male and female – are created in the image of God. This comes out of the creation narratives of Gen. 1 and 2. Jesus’ answer amazes them, not least because he is the only one who seems to have remembered and applied an understanding they all shared. These things we believe are not just things to memorize. There’s no heaven-SAT, where entrance depends on how much doctrine you can correctly identify. These things either inform how we live our everyday lives or else they are completely worthless.

The second part is different though. No clear understanding about the afterlife emerges in the Hebrew Scriptures or was in place in Jesus’ day. We can see this much from the ongoing debate between the Pharisees and Sadducees. Here Jesus clearly teaches, what he shortly after demonstrates, bodily resurrection of the dead. The Gospels and Paul are very direct in teaching this. But many who believe in Jesus persist in thinking in terms of a future that involves a soul-only existence; the eternal soul has more hold on our imaginations than resurrection of the body (remember the Patrick Swayze movie, Ghost?). This is another case of our doctrines not informing our actual lives. If bodies aren’t resurrected, then they’re not as important, then it doesn’t matter so much what we do to them or with them. Hear Jesus today. The power of God does not bypass the body. It resurrects the body.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.