Here are a few thoughts to consider when reading and preaching the gospels during this Easter season:
First, we need to be very cautious not to overlook the biblical details in the text. Details like a face cloth (John 20) or other items left in the tomb serve an instructive purpose. Always remember that God has placed these details in the Scriptures for a reason. Therefore, we should ask the question: why is this detail here?
Second, remember that the gospels assume knowledge of redemptive history. It assumes a great deal of knowledge of Old Testament history and details. This is why we are always somewhat befuddled by connections made throughout the Bible. We may be puzzled because we do not know our Old Testament history. For instance, when Jesus says that if the people are silent these stones will cry out (Luke 19), we typically assume that the stones crying out mean that the stones will cry out in praise of the Coming Messiah on Palm Sunday. But a quick look at how this phrase is used in the Old Testament, particularly in Habakkuk, will show us that the stones cry out in judgment. As James Jordan has observed, the stones cry out in judgment against the people of Israel…indeed they did cry out because the temple was destroyed in AD 70. These types of connections are all over the gospels, and we need to be careful not to overlook these important details.
Finally, as I have mentioned in my Good Friday homily, these resurrection scenes are deeply embedded in Creation language. Thus, there will be some obvious and some not so obvious connections with Genesis that we need to consider. I have said in the past that the secret to understanding Revelation is to understand Genesis. I affirm once again that the secret to understanding many of these gospel scenes and images is to understand the language and the typology of Genesis.