In a sermon that appeared in the March-April 2000 issue of Preaching, William Willimon says: “People like us are the sort or folk who like to believe you can have resurrection and still have the world as it was yesterday. We want to have Easter and still have our world unrocked by resurrection. We are amazingly well adjusted to the same old world.
“I think that’s why Matthew says that when there was Easter, the whole earth shook. Luke does Easter as a meal on Sunday evening with the Risen Christ. John has resurrected Jesus encounter Mary Magdalene in the garden. But Matthew? Easter is an earthquake with doors shaken off tombs and dead people walking the streets, the stone rolled away by the ruckus and an imprudent angel sitting on it.
“I’ve been in an earthquake, even though I’m not from L.A. I was preaching in Alaska and during my sermon, the earth heaved a moment that seemed forever. The little church shook. The Alaskan Methodists said, ‘How about that, the light fixtures didn’t fall this time.’ I ended my sermon immediately. I was shaken by the earthquake, but also a bit shaken by those nonchalant Alaskans. Afterward (at lunch!) I asked the pastor, ‘What the heck would it take to get this congregation’s attention? I’d hate to have to preach to them every Sunday.’
“Matthew says Easter is an earthquake that shook the whole world.” (Click to read the full sermon.)