In Luke 24 we read an amazing story of a few women, who, early in the morning, went to the grave to anoint their beloved Jesus wo had died already on Friday and was buried just before the Sabbath started. There was simply no time to prepare the body appropriately since everything had to be done in a hurry. On Saturday, or Sabbath as the Jews call it, everything stopped, so the first opportunity to do the proper preparations for a deceased person was on the first day of the week; Sunday. Normally the body would be prepared so that the bad odour would not be immediately noticed. It was also the proper thing to do out of respect for the deceased.
So, very early in the morning as Luke 24:1 says, these women, Mary of Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, Salome (mom of James and John, sons of Zebedee) went to do what they wanted to do on Friday already. Still, had they thought this through? Had they really understood the consequences of this decision? After all, Jesus was placed in a tomb with a big, heavy stone in front of it. And to make matters worse, there were Roman soldiers watching the site for possible invaders. After all, this Jesus was a trouble maker and who knows that someone got the bright idea to take Him away from the tomb, spreading the rumour that He was not among the dead anymore.
They may not even have given it a thought. I can just imagine what they were thinking: “How are we going to push this stone away? What are we going to do? Who can help us? What if the guards don’t let us…?”
So, these grieving group of women, all close friends and relatives to Jesus, came to the grave. Yet, something had changed. The big stone wasn’t there anymore. Did someone beat them? Someone did the job already? What happened?
Yet, to make matters more astounding, the body wasn’t there anymore. What now? Wasn’t the grief of His undeserving death enough already? Did someone have to steal Him too? Make Him their hero of some sort of cult? Claiming that He is gone, just as He said He would? After all, many followers of Jesus placed their hope on this Prophet. He’d be the one to deliver Israel, but things didn’t go as they expected. He was beaten, humiliated and finally crucified as a criminal on a cross. They all saw the blood, the thorns, the scorning, ridiculing. What now?
Luke is very frank about how these women experienced the stone rolled away and the body disappearance. We read in Luke 24:4 that they were greatly perplexed. I can understand that reaction. It’s so human. What did just happen here? What went down here? Luke goes on when he suddenly introduces two men that appeared out of nowhere. Again, the women were afraid. Very understandable. After all, they were on a site where anything could happen. Perhaps the guards would show up to drive them away. Perhaps they would be arrested themselves, because both the Romans and Jewish leaders wanted to silence this nuisance of a man called Jesus once for all.
BUT they could not! The two men spoke appealing to the memories of the women. “Don’t you remember?!” Remember what? They were still in shock mode. Their beloved leader, son and messiah had died. Please don’t remind them of that!
Isn’t that human? Sometimes life just throws everything at us. Death. Hardship. Pain. Grief. Sickness. Betrayal. Disappointments.
Yet the two men reminded these women, as they also remind us to remember that Jesus said that He’d be back from the dead. He said it in advance, but still the women didn’t ‘get it’. In fact, no one got it. His disciples didn’t get it. In fact, when the women finally got their head around the idea that Jesus had actually risen from the dead, they became the first to announce this to the disciples. Why didn’t they go to the tomb like the women, early in the morning? After all, Jesus had foretold them several times, not once, not twice but several times, that He’d go to Jerusalem not as a conqueror the way THEY expected it, but as a Conqueror that He said He would. The Romans were not the issue, bondage was. The issue was not that Israel would rule and reign again, the issue was sin.
Romans 8:3 says this: For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh!
That was the issue! Sin had to be crushed. And Jesus became sin and died, so that we didn’t have to satisfy the just demands of the Law. Still, the disciples didn’t get it…They walked with Him for over 3 years and they did not understand even the most basic aspect of Christianity: the Resurrection! WOW! Luke is brutally honest about their unbelief. The disciples called this talk about Jesus’ resurrection ‘idle tales’. How’s that for a discouragement?
I have just one simple, but honest question for you. What do you expect from Jesus this season? Can you believe that He can also resurrect your situation, how difficult as it may be?
It’s one thing to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. That’s the biggest miracle on earth. But it is another thing that the Power of His resurrection is also active in us every day of our lives. What do you see? Problems? Difficulties? Or do you see what these women saw? A risen Lord that can resurrect any hopeless situation, because, after all, He is Lord.
It is my prayer that we can celebrate Resurrection Sunday knowing that He has truly set us free. Whatever we face today, it is okay. He has got our back! All He asks from us now, is to simply believe.