Text for the Week: Don’t Let It Be an Idle Tale

Luke 24:1-12

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Questions

What was the mindset of the women bringing back the news from the tomb?

Why would the women’s words seem like nonsense to Peter and the others?

Why if they thought the women were talking nonsense would they investigate the tomb?

Reflection

It seems almost everyone is comfortable with the message of Jesus’ resurrection; Christians act like “well of course he rose, he said he would.” while non-Christians seem to think, “Well of course it didn’t happen they just couldn’t accept he was gone and made up a story.” No one seems to capture the details about the mindsets of those involved in the story– the women did not want to speak of what they saw, and when they did their male counterparts thought it was nonsense. I find these details difficult to process, why would the male disciples dismissed their sisters’ message and why would the women be so hesitant to spread the message they were given at the tomb? There is no way to put this scene in modern terms but if a loved one died and I heard that person was alive I would be ecstatic, but these witnesses seem skeptical. Even after seeing the tomb they do not seem to believe the message as it was first reported.

What was it about the message of resurrection that was so difficult for this group of people to believe it and what shifted their thinking? I can hear atheists saying, “It’s because it wasn’t true, they were just making it up.” But that answer has never satisfied me, because why if you were making it up would you cast the story in a way that showed you did not believe it. And further why would the women be the first recipients of the message since they were considered unreliable? A more fitting lie would have been that an angel appeared to Simon Peter or Andrew or John and told him to go to the tomb where he would see with his own eyes that Jesus was raised. That disciple would go discover the truth and loudly proclaim the message to the conversion of hundreds. But we see the opposite, women who would not have been considered credible witnesses tasked with proclaiming a message in which they had little confidence. Did the male disciples dismiss the message because of its source– mere women? Did the women fail to believe because they could not believe their eyes? Or was it something about the message itself that makes it difficult to comprehend?

I think this story shows us our own baggage with the message of Jesus. We are told death has no power and the world has been turned on its head and we treat this message as nonsense, as idle gossip. Just like these disciples we tend to hear the message that Jesus is alive and sit in a state of half belief, not comprehending what is going on. The message that Jesus has been raised is something extreme and we too often it makes little impact on those of us who believe. We treat the whole thing like spiritual nonsense. We act like, “of course Jesus’ spirit went to heaven and so will mine one day.” But this type of response misses the true glory of the message. We miss that the world is now right-side-up are so long being turned on its head by sin. We cannot hear the message with the same ears the disciples did we must hear this message with the glorious ring they should have heard.

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