Todays readings include two foundational texts: the account of pentecost and Matthew’s account of the resurrection. I find it intruging that the scholars put these together, along with Deborah’s song. But it brings up an important issue, for the resurrection is more important than Pentecost.
1After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
The resurrection is more important that pentecost in that the resurrection was needed first. Without salvation there cannot be any indwelling of the spirit.
For the church is a creature guided by the Holy Spirit. We look to the cross for salvation, and the church would not exist without the resurrection, but it is guided by the spirit — this is the teaching of Jesus as recorded by John in his gospel and it explains how the church has been rescued from errors from time immemorial.
Some people, however, elevate the spirit and gifts and signs overmuch. They exist — but every one of them can be, has been, and will be imitated by the adversary. Not all faith healers are of Christ — and here I am not talking about the shams and quacks, to do truly exist. In fact, one of the stigmata of occultic preactices, of witchcraft, is the use of word, will and ritual to compel things to happen.
[This occurs in Daoism, in wicca, and in shamanism]
For the religious, the issue is not compulsion but prayer. God is sovereign, we cannot tame him, and he works by his will. Not ours.
And we praise God for he demonstrated his good by dealing with justice by taking the penalty of us all, at great cost, so he can show mercy. In the resurrection he demonstrated he had destroyed the last enemy, which is death.
So the resurrection is necessary for Christianity. Without it, the faith falls apart. And to deny this, to deny the divine working in this life and in this time, is to grieve the Spirit. Which is what the liberals did in previous generations. The consequences to them have been a dying church, and a loss of the power to be the conscience for a town, a people, a nation.
We need to mistrust our experience and feelings: testing them against the rule of the word, and listening to the promptings of our conscience, being guided in prayer. No Chrisitan has ever disagreed on these things. We need to particularly be careful of those who preach signs and wonders but do not preach the cross. For the road is not meant to be easy, but to lead to us being like Christ.