Luke 24: 1 – 12 Jesus has risen
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.
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When the women reach the tomb, very early in the morning, they are totally baffled. They had seen Jesus buried here, in this tomb; and now the stone has been rolled away and the body’s gone.
Their thoughts would have been in turmoil. Who could have done this? Why had they done it? Where is Jesus’ body? They would have been desperate to give Jesus a proper burial.
Jesus had told his disciples repeatedly that he was going to be crucified and rise again, see, for example, Luke 18: 31 – 34. The idea of being raised from the dead was not totally incredible to the women. St Luke describes two occasions when Jesus raises someone from the dead. The first is the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7: 11 – 17), and the second is the daughter of a synagogue leader named Jairus (Luke 8: 40 – 56).
While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.
I wonder why God chose to speak to them in such a dramatic way? Perhaps the women needed the extraordinary vision because they were to receive such an extraordinary message.
It’s interesting, too, that St Luke doesn’t refer to them as angels. When he writes about the messenger to Zechariah about John the Baptist’s birth, and to Mary about Jesus’ birth, he has no hesitation in calling them angels.
Personally, I find this gives more credibility to the account of the appearance at the tomb. What did the women see? Two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning. It’s the sort of factual statement you’d make in a court of law.
St Luke also describes the effect the men had on the women.
In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground.
It must have been a terrifying experience, quite unlike anything the women had experienced before.
The men made the startling statement: “He is not here; he has risen!”, and reminded the women of the prophecy Jesus had spoken in Galilee about his death and rising again.
Then they remembered his words.
What would you do if you had been given news like that? The women rushed back to the apostles and told them.
But the apostles did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.
The apostles had seen astonishing miracles. Jesus had calmed the storm, walked on water, made the blind see and the dumb speak, cast out demons and raised people from the dead. But they had also seen their leader, their teacher, their Lord die on a Roman cross. Their hope was dead.
Or was it?
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.
I think the resurrection story is the most important in the bible. If Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, then human sin won; the blameless one, the perfect example of love, was extinguished – and for what?
It took a supernatural appearance to convince the women who had gone to anoint the body. The apostles weren’t convinced by their story.
Am I convinced?
But that conviction could be stronger. When I think about the implications of the resurrection of Jesus, I know that my conviction should be stronger. This is literally the most important event in the history of the world.
Thank you for raising Jesus from the dead. Please help my faith to grow and make me ever more committed to helping to build your kingdom.
In Jesus name, Amen