In the supporting characters of Matthew 27 I see myself and the rest of this broken world. One and all we either stand on this Rock or are crushed by it. Judas, the murderous scribes and Pharisees indifferent to the remorse of a traitor, Pilate, Barabbas, the amazed centurion, Joseph of Arimathea – books and movies by the dozen have told their stories. Fortunately for this poor blogger, they (and of course the Central Character) are also discussed by the other three gospel writers, so they can wait for a later post. Today I can focus on the only two mentioned exclusively by Matthew: Pilate’s wife and the resurrected wanderers.
This afternoon I finished “Alex Cross’s Trial” by James Patterson, a beach-reading novel about a lynch-happy Mississippi town of 100 years ago. (If “lynching” and “beach-reading” in the same sentence doesn’t speak to the pervasiveness of sin, I don’t know what does.) Everyone in Eudora knows the Klan is lynching negroes whose only offense is offending fearful, hating white supremacists.
And so it is with Pilate’s wife, who tells her husband, “have nothing to do with that innocent man.” How casually she says it – “an innocent man.” She doesn’t need to persuade Pilate. He already knows. The First Couple and everyone else in town knew Jesus was innocent. It was understood. Like the former slave asserting his God-given freedom, his only crime was being true to an identity that his twisted world refused to accept. Their loyalties were to self, family, riches, power, tribe – not to justice and righteousness.
By happy contrast the holy dead are raised in freedom. What a wild story. Jesus dies, the earth shakes, the veil of the temple is broken – and as Matthew only tells, people emerge from their tombs and walk around, freed from death and the power of sin. After the resurrection on the third day, they enter the City. Is it Spirit-powered “performance art” prophecy, foretelling the Great Day when the dead in Christ shall rise? Whatever else it is, it’s a powerful sign that, as the centurion said, “surely this man was a son of God.”