November 19, 2017

The Appearances of the Risen Christ, 4

By Chaplain Mike

We are marking the Great Fifty Days of Easter with a series of devotional thoughts on the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus.

Today we look at Luke’s story of that first Easter morning, from Luke 24:1-12 (NLT).

Text

But very early on Sunday morningthe women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”

Then they remembered that he had said this. So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.

Thoughts

Luke shapes his narratives of Jesus’ resurrection in a way that is consistent with the theme of his book, which was stated at the beginning (Luke 1:1-4):

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.(NIV)

Luke’s stories of the risen Christ build in stages. Gradually, over time, through unfolding events, the “eyewitnesses and servants of the word” come to realize “the certainty of the things” about Jesus and his saving acts. And Luke starts, as do Matthew and Mark, with the empty tomb.

The account opens with “puzzlement”—as the women find the stone rolled away.

This leads to “remembering”—as the two angels (every truth is confirmed by at least two witnesses) remind them of what Jesus had taught about his death and resurrection.

The women return to “tell…what had happened,” but at that point no one was convinced. In fact, it sounded to the apostles “like nonsense.” Still no “certainty;” instead, bewilderment, confusion, mystery.

This prompts Peter to go examine the scene for himself. He “jumped up and ran to the tomb to look.” Note the verbs that describe his experience: he “peered in,” he “saw,” he “went home again,” “wondering what had happened.”

Clearly, something amazing HAD happened. But what? Peter needed some time to “wonder” about that.

This text describes people who have just, as it were, had ice-cold water thrown in their face while sleeping. Startled, they shoot up off the bed. They sputter. Their eyes spring open. They gasp. They look around wildly. Their hearts are racing. Their minds struggle to shift into gear. Their eyes dart around the room, trying to focus, trying to grasp what just happened.

Faith often begins with that jarring wake-up call. “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Eph 5:14).

But that is just the beginning. In Luke’s account, the journey will continue, down a road to Emmaus, to a table where bread is broken, then a swift race back to Jerusalem, to an upper room, and ultimately to a hill near Bethany.

From a faith forced awake to a faith that can rest in knowing that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

Prayer
O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that I, who have been raised with him, may abide in his presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ my Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and ever. Amen.

(Prayer for the Week from The Divine Hours)

Comments

  1. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    About thirty years ago, before CCM got into its rut, Don Francisco wrote one of his ballads around this exact scene, from the POV of Peter.

  2. I DO appreciate Luke’s account of the visitation to the empty tomb very much. The women SURELY would have been excited and told everyone what happened. And Peter would SURELY have run to see for himself. And I do like how Luke introduces his Gospel with, “Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” It has a very human, true feel to it.

  3. To Michael the Eclectic Christian: THANKS for your post @ 2:50 today over at the bar fight…….I’m sure we want the same things, here is to seeking and finding.

    Needing HIS grace this moment
    Greg R

  4. I love the idea that if you had asked the women at the start of their day —- What are you hoping for today??? they probably would have answered that the stone would be in place to protect Jesus’ body from vandels, —they came to take care of Jesus body. The stone was to keep people away from Jesus body, not to keep Jesus in. But then, Surprise! RESURRECTION!!!! – everything changed they were puzzeled – than dumbfounded with joy. kind of like our lives we want to keep Jesus in a place where we can know what will happen next than Surprise! RESURRECTION again!!!!