“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.” Luke 24:1-9
Each year on Easter, this story grabs me. I’ve heard it on thirty-nine Easters. I’ve had to honor of proclaiming it from a pulpit for four. And each year, this story grabs me.
We’ve all heard it so often. We know how the story will end. But this story is so much more powerful when we really think about what these women were doing and the reality of the disciples’ situation.
The Eleven were locked in a room in fear and confusion. They thought Jesus would be the long-awaited Messiah, the one who would overthrow the Roman occupiers. Instead their beloved teacher was killed by them in the most shameful and gruesome way. Then, in his hour of greatest need, they abandoned, betrayed and rejected him. Surely their affiliation with Jesus meant they were next in line for a terrible death at the hands of Roman soldiers. Talk about feeling the depths of fear, grief and loss.
The women went to prepare Jesus’ body. That’s what they were supposed to do for a loved one. No doubt they were afraid too. What would they find when they got there? Soldiers waiting to arrest them too? Certainly, they’d find the stench of death after three days. Of course, we know what they find instead of the stench of death—an empty tomb! This is, after all, the lynchpin of our faith.
What grabs me every year is just how true this story is for Christians still today. How often do we choose to believe in and hold onto fear instead of Jesus’ promises? How often do we keep our expectations low of God? How often do we concede defeat before looking for the places the risen Jesus is bringing new life?
We know how the story ends. The tomb is empty! Jesus is raised and alive! And not just for that day and for those disciples. Jesus lives eternally.
Dear Christian friends may God give us the faith and courage to expect to see Jesus alive and working in our lives, our church and our world. Because He is!
This is our story. May we live our lives believing it.
Yours in Christ,