Easter Day 31/3/13 Year C
Acts 10:34 Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached-- 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. :39 "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen--by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
Luke 24:1-12 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. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 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? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'" 8 Then they remembered his words. 9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 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.
Have you ever been in a position where you are going somewhere with a sense of foreboding, fearful of what you might be faced with? I imagine all of us have, probably as we have entered room to sit a school examination!
The women who had watched the crucifixion (v. 49) also watched as Jesus is buried. They saw where he is laid to rest and resolve to return after the day of rest, the Sabbath/Saturday, and anoint his body with spices to preserve it. Jews did not embalm corpses, so spices served to lessen the smell
First thing on the Sunday morning, the women come to the tomb with their spices, fully expecting to find Jesus’ remains. These women did not go believing in resurrection. They did not go to check and see if the tomb was empty. The fact that they took spices along to anoint the decaying body shows what they expected to find, despite six resurrection predictions in Luke. The first people who had to be convinced of the resurrection were Jesus' followers. In a real sense they were the first sceptics to become convinced that Jesus was raised!
The first hint that something had happened was the rolled-away stone. This stone, as was typical of ancient tombs, had covered the entrance. It was laid in a channel that had been carved out for it. It would have been very heavy, impossible for the women to have moved. Matthew tells us it was moved by an angel.
The next clue is that Jesus body was not there. The stone was not moved to let Jesus out, after all, the risen Jesus could appear and disappear at will. The stone was moved so people could see Jesus body was not in there.
It is best to say the women were at a loss, confused. They needed someone to explain things, so God sent them two angels. The angelic appearance frightens the women, who bow to the ground in reverence. The angels’ response begins with a mild rebuke that is also an explanation: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Put simply, Jesus is alive, so do not expect to find him in a tomb.
Then the angels ask them to recall the promise he made to them in Galilee. “Remember how he told you, … ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again’” (9:22; 18:32-33).
These women had forgotten the words of Jesus. God reminds them by angels, literally messengers. Today we have God's word to us in the Bible and he speaks to us by His Spirit, reminding us about His promises.
The word “must” in verse 7 refers to something that is necessary. This chain of events was needed because it is God's plan to save the world. From the arrest through the death to the resurrection, Jesus walked in God’s will. The women need not have wasted their money on the spices to preserve Jesus’ body. God has taken care of it and has been in control all along.
The women cannot keep to themselves what has just happened, so they return to tell the eleven and those with them. Though the women are convinced, the rest are not. They come to belief slowly. Most of the disciples are originally doubtful about the resurrection. At first they regard the women as hysterical, speaking nonsense NIV or idle tales KJV.
Luke notes most of them do not believe their story, except for Peter, who cannot sit still upon hearing the report. He had seen how Jesus' words came true when he predicted that Peter would betray him three times before the cock crowed. Perhaps the thought of this led him to hope beyond hope that these other words of Jesus, about his death and resurrection, would also be true.
He ran to the tomb, closely followed by John. Another clue, the strips of linen lying by themselves, are mentioned by Luke. This leads Peter to wonder, to consider what has happened.
In this account we see that, despite Jesus clear warnings before his death, the women and the disciples did not approach the tomb of Jesus expecting it to be empty and to find him resurrected. Jesus had moved on which is why the angels ask "Why do you look for the living among the dead?” I mentioned in my Parish News article this month that the idea of an individual bodily resurrection was not in people's thinking at this time. Some believed in the resurrection of many at one time but not one man at this time.
Subsequent encounters with the risen Lord Jesus over the next 40 days would convince the disciples and over 500 others. This is what Peter was talking about in Acts 10.39 "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen - by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”
Jesus would talk with people, break bread with them, show them his wounded hands and side, eat a bread and fish breakfast with his disciples by the Sea of Galilee. Jesus also gave proof from the Scriptures that pointed to this being God's plan. He told his disciples that this plan also involved them being sent out to tell others about this, once they had received the Holy Spirit.
It took some time for the reality of the resurrection to dawn on the disciples. They were in darkness, like the women rising before dawn to come to the tomb. Gradually their minds were enlightened, so they knew that they could trust in Jesus' words to them, and boldly proclaim this to everyone, even non-Jews, who were being addressed by Peter in Acts 10.
Jesus is alive. We can know Him today as our Lord, Saviour and master. If you don't know him personally yet, what are you waiting for? If you do know Jesus then go out and tell others. God will give you the words and the opportunities through His Holy Spirit who lives in every believer. There is plenty of evidence to point to the truth of the physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus which is the Amen to all of his promises.