Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor
The women go to the tomb to prepare the dead for burial. Jesus has been in the tomb. It is barely dawn in Luke’s gospel. We are coming out of darkness just a few days after a violent and tragic death. These men in dazzling white tell them, “He has risen!”
WHAT? This is preposterous! This is ridiculous!! In fact, it is sooooo ridiculous that when the women go to their best and closest friends to tell them, the men respond…well, a bit poorly. They are incredulous. The New Revised Standard Version guards our modern audience a bit by saying that the men respond by saying this is “an idle tale.” Luke actually uses the word legros. This is a little more direct than telling them they have a tale. This is a bit more like they are telling them that they have made this up. It is utterly unbelievable. And actually it is even more accurately translated to mean b#$*s%#*. These were down to earth guys.
But the thing is, is that this is what they had prayed for. They had prayed for there to be no more death. They had heard Jesus talk about this moment. They had asked, no pleaded, him to not go into Jerusalem and here it is. The moment of truth. He is risen!
And yet we tend to rush to this point and glaze over at the telling of the story. We have a tendency to forget just how crazy this story truly is in our church. We forget that this changes the world and we never look back. We forget that this has turned the world upside down and no one is calling our tale any longer. Most of all we forget that God chose to announce this amazing transformation of darkness into light to the least likely to hold power, to the marginalized, and to the ones that still heard every bit of Jesus’ message.
In fact our gospel writer Luke knows so much that there is more to the story that he sits right down to right the book of Acts next to continue the message of Good News and new life to everyone. In Acts, Peter, the one who went back to the tomb to confirm what the women saw and to have a moment of resurrection himself, preaches that God is available to everyone, even the Gentiles. He can’t help himself but yell out this moment that will change the world. He preaches to anyone who will listen and the astonishment doesn’t wear off! I am sure that people called out his story over and over again because they thought it was legros.
So let’s do the story justice and yell it out to incredulous audiences. The story is for everyone and anyone who can, for even a moment, believe that live could win over death. Not even the dead can stay dead. Connect with those who can see that the world is dawning anew yet again to new life. Amen?
Quotes for the Week
“Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time.” –Martin Luther
Eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts now. It’s not about a life that begins at death; it’s about experiencing the kind of life now that can endure and survive even death.” ― Rob Bell, Love Wins
“This is the Easter message, that awakening is possible, to the goodness of God, the sacredness of human life, the sisterhood and brotherhood of all.”-Anne Lamott
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.” ― William Faulkner
Acts 10:34-43 (Message) Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel—that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again—well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.
“You know the story of what happened in Judea. It began in Galilee after John preached a total life-change. Then Jesus arrived from Nazareth, anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, ready for action. He went through the country helping people and healing everyone who was beaten down by the Devil. He was able to do all this because God was with him.
“And we saw it, saw it all, everything he did in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem where they killed him, hung him from a cross. But in three days God had him up, alive, and out where he could be seen. Not everyone saw him—he wasn’t put on public display. Witnesses had been carefully handpicked by God beforehand—us! We were the ones, there to eat and drink with him after he came back from the dead. He commissioned us to announce this in public, to bear solemn witness that he is in fact the One whom God destined as Judge of the living and dead. But we’re not alone in this. Our witness that he is the means to forgiveness of sins is backed up by the witness of all the prophets.”
Luke 24:1-12 (NRSV) But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed 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, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.
Questions for the Week
What does resurrection mean for you?
Can you imagine being a part of this story?
Can we extend God to all people?