When the angel spoke to the women at the Tomb in today’s gospel, he told them “Go quickly and tell his disciples” to meet him in Galilee. This is the language of the org chart. The angel recognized where the disciples, the most prominent followers of Jesus, are in the organization and gave them instructions from their direct report.
Several minutes later the women meet Jesus himself and he tells them to “go tell my brothers to go to Galilee”. His desire to see him is understandable. All the disciples ran away when danger arose, some fell asleep when he needed them most and Peter, their leader, denied him three times before the authorities. Our first thought might be that they have a lot for which they must answer. Yet Jesus calls them “my brothers”. He uses the language of family and speaks of them with affection.
Has he forgotten their betrayal, has there been no judgement? Far from it. The resurrection is itself the judgement of God. For centuries the LORD sent prophets, teachers, kings and poets to show his people how to live. He shared his very mind with them, but they did not change. He therefore sent his son. God’s judgment is that reformation isn’t enough, there must be transformation. Jesus did not show us a new way of seizing earthly power or of obeying the divine law, he showed us a new way of being human.
Through his death and resurrection, he has recreated us, made us a new creation and given us new life. He has, to use biblical language, made us righteous. Righteousness is being in a good relationship with God. The death and resurrection of Jesus shows us that we cannot do this by ourselves indeed we need more than God’s helping hand we need his very life within us.
We will always be judged; the question is who will be doing the judging. It may be by contemporary ideas and biases. Do we wear the right clothes, do we have the most fashionable opinions and mouth the pieties of our time and place? Even if we do, it is exhausting. It will indeed change who we are, but the judgment of the world does not help us become who we are meant to be. Perhaps we think that we are judging ourselves. This is dangerous, it makes us the center of the world. The temptation to let ourselves off too lightly or perhaps even more dangerously create unrealistic goals and expectations can be the deadliest trap.
Christianity is often criticized for creating a “Judgmental” God. This is often the case, especially when we allow political and social concerns to dominate our thinking. Yet, I wish to be judged only by Jesus. This week we have seen the depths of his love for us in the Passion and the height of his power in the Resurrection. The most important lesson from this is that he who is our Lord wishes to be our brother.