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Passion Sunday (9th April 2017)


MATTHEW’S PASSION ACCOUNT

Kevin Lyon, Archdeacon of Glendalough.The question as to why Jesus had to die on the cross is a common one. In this regard, the Gospel of Matthew (Year A) is distinctive. For instance, the death of Jesus, provokes certain supernatural and human responses - the tearing of the curtain of the Temple and the raising of the holy ones. The narrator uses the acclamation of the centurion and those with him (he is not alone as in Mark's account) together assert that Jesus is truly the Son of God.

Matthew constructs his description of Jesus' death in such a way as to show that the spirit which comes upon Jesus at his baptism and empowers his ministry, is released at the moment of his death on the cross; 'and when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit (pneuma) (Matt: 27:50). At that moment of the earth shakes and the rocks split, and the holy ones are liberated from the tombs and appear to many in the holy city. These events are God's immediate response to the releasing of the Spirit and the death of Jesus. They tell us that God's presence symbolises a mission to all nations. The temple was the physical symbol of God's presence among his own people (Jews) until now veiled behind the curtain; is at this moment torn in two and is no longer symbolically veiled from the people. The resurrection of the holy ones prefigures a mission to all nations. And so, the releasing of the spirit results in a life-giving event, making possible the resurrection of others.

Some Gentiles at the crucifixion of Jesus, acknowledge Jesus as Son of God and this foreshadows Jesus' commissioning of his followers to make disciples of all nations. In this way the Holy Spirit and the mission to the nations comes through the Risen Lord. The call goes out not just to Jesus disciples but also to Matthew's audience, his readers, that is you and me!! We are all part of Jesus' package, to make disciples of all the nations.


Kevin Lyon
Archdeacon of Glendalough


 


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