Matthew’s inclusion of the earthquake in his account of Easter emphasizes that the resurrection was not just an internal event experienced by the disciples. Stanley Hauerwas of Duke University, in dialogue with Marcus Borg of the skeptical Jesus Seminar, says,
Marcus thinks the disciples had an experience. They said, “Wasn’t it great being with Jesus before they killed him? You remember those great stories he told? The lectures, er, sermons? Just thinking about it makes him seem almost still here. Yep, he is still here. Let’s all close our eyes and believe real hard that he’s still here. Okay?”
It is important to note too that God’s coming into the world and into our lives is always an earth-shaking, life-shaking event. William Willimon raises the intriguing possibility that the angel who met the women at the empty tomb was the same angel who awakened Joseph one night and gave him the message that his fiancée was pregnant. (Willimon remarks, “Talk about an earthquake!”) The point is that when God comes into the world or into a life, things cannot remain the same.
Lastly, earthquakes reveal that which cannot be shaken. Our lives can be shaken by accident, by the gyrations of the stock market, or by a word from our doctor or employer. We sometimes wonder if there is any solid ground upon which we can stand. The Easter earthquake reveals the frailty of this world and its powers. It also reveals the “Solid Rock” upon which we may build our lives.
©2002 C. David Hess