This morning I was reading Matthew 27-28, trying to refresh my memory and imagination about the great hope of the resurrection. At the same time I was looking for archetypes, just to see what I could find.
Simply put, an archetype is a recognized model or type after which similar things are patterned. In other words, there are images, characters, scenes and plots that we recognize and somehow know when we read, hear or see a story. These archetypes resonate with us because they come from our common experience as human beings. The fact the Bible makes use of so many helps make it a unified, universal, relatate-able, enjoyable book.
Anyway, I was reading and looking for archetypes. Matthew's retelling of Jesus' last hours is replete with archetypes. There are crooked leaders, dreams, washings, images of kings, barriers split, earthquakes and open tombs, angels, etc. All these things are somehow known to most people in the world because we have so many of the same common experiences--birth, death, nature, law, etc.
One other archetype that struck me this morning is the image or character of the faithful woman. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus go to the tomb on the first day of the week--two mornings after the Crucifixion. They see the tomb and are troubled and fear fills them. But the angel comforts them and explains that Christ is risen; he even tells them to observe where Jesus body once lay. They go away, both with fear and great joy.
I'm sure possessing all this, trying to understand it and believe it was swelling their chests; surely they were near bursting with the news. And then, the most remarkable thing happens. Jesus appears. Resurrected. His first word? "Greetings!"
At that one word, all they held in them came out in great faith and adoration and they did the only thing any of us with any bit of understanding could do. The ultimate of archetypes stood before them, the conquering God, the misunderstood prophet, the victorious king. Their response? They fell at his feet and worshipped him (see Matthew 28:1-10 for all of this).
He, too, told them not to fear, and sent them to tell the others. And they did.
And now I'm telling you: Greetings! He is risen. Have no fear, only hope.