SCRIPTURE: LUKE 24:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version)
- 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.
Besides the crucifixion of Jesus on Friday (“Good Friday”), Resurrection Sunday is the holiest day in the history of Christianity. Society, especially in western civilization, has commercialized this Resurrection Day as a day to celebrate self in the manifestation of new clothes, new hair or hair-style; to have children paint/color eggs; and to attend Easter egg hunt parties. But, there is hardly any celebration by the larger community of the holiest day in Christianity, Resurrection Day!
The egg in non-Christian traditions is a symbol of birth, a symbol of fertility, the symbol in festivals of spring, and other pagan traditions. The Easter egg is the blending of folklore and Christian beliefs.
However, capitalism has infiltrated our minds to believe that Easter represents the ability to procure things to enhance our appearance – whether we can afford it or not. Capitalism has warped our thinking to use consumerism as an opiate to compensate for either our los self-esteem or our superiority complex.
Even though we are getting better in what and how we celebrate our Christian Holy Days, we still need to deconstruct our old habits and reconstruct new disciplines that represent who we are as followers of Christ. Appearance was the issue and the façade of self-image.
But, the Grace of God is moving Christians to be mature in age and wisdom particularly, to understand and see new life or new birth in life experiences. If you look closely, God reveals not just spiritually or theologically new beginnings or even new beginnings by the plants and small creatures of the earth; but, realistically, new birth in humanity that can manifest itself anew when you keep your focus and share with others what God will and can do. Believers utter, “What he’s done for others, he’ll do it for you.”
The Christian faith tradition (the Way of Christ) is – even today – a radical walk because it goes against the will and way of belief systems and structures that are self-absorbing and self-serving. This passage in this chapter of the Gospel of Luke is not only about the resurrection of Jesus but, about sharing.
It was on the “first day of the week, at early dawn” or it was “early one Sunday morning” (the third day after Jesus was crucified buried and after the Sabbath day was traditionally observed), that it was women who were prominent in the event. Perhaps, Luke, the physician, lifts up women, generally, because women are considered as nurturers; considered the caregivers; are sensitive to the holistic needs of a person or maybe, because women share whatever they have. Nevertheless, Luke indicates that it was the women of Galilee who had come with Jesus from Galilee who stood at a distance watching the crucifixion of Jesus. It was the women of Galilee who had followed and saw the tomb and how the body of Jesus was laid. And, the women of Galilee who went back and prepared the spices and ointments for the appropriate burial of Jesus. It was on the “first day of the week, at early, they came to the tomb taking the spices they had prepared.”
Over the years, perhaps you can say the same things about your journey.
- Your witnessing friends and family members struggling, dying or succumbing to the oppressive, repressive bondages placed upon them socially, economically, politically, and educational.
- Your witnessing the death of dreams, the death of relationships, the death of personalities, the death of motivation, the death of innovation;
- Your witnessing friend, family, acquaintances, and even strangers succumb to the tombs of life provoked by others who are dead-set on destroying them so that they can “get over” and “take over.”
The United States of America is purported to be the riches and the most liberated country in the world. However, the quest for superiority, power, riches, and fame has transformed the notion of freedom and equality in this nation to a country seeking imperialistic power over not only this country but all nations by “any means necessary.” That means that people of color from whom this country was stolen; those people of color who built this nation and its infrastructure, and people of color from other nations who possess precious and valuable minerals and lands are being systematically driven to a state of destruction without concern for their inalienable rights as God’s people. In fact, the people are being not only denied justice but even mercy.
Where is the justice and mercy when a decision of a judge imprisons a teenage black boy for life because he violated his probation by smoking a “bud” – a Cannabis sativa, hemp, “mary jane,” marijuana joint? Yet, a white man in Texas, April 1007, killed another man and was arrested several times for the possession of cocaine never went to jail! With many letters of outcry to the Texas governor and after seventeen years in prison, the man’s sentence was commuted. That is, his sentence was reduced to a less severe one which should have been a non-violent felony (if this Texas law was a felonious offense). The mother and other female relatives showered him with affection and gifts as they greeted him when he exited the door of the prison. Afterwards, they cooked his favorite foods; and, the man, while enjoying the feast, felt as if it were Thanksgiving. It is with situations like this, that the women, particularly, take the “spices they prepared,” to the tomb, to the jail, to the detention homes, to the shelter – wherever their love-ones are – to properly give them what they require or need.
The pericope goes on to state that when the women got to the tomb, guess what? They found the stone rolled away and they did not find the body of Jesus when they went into the tomb! For the person we love, no matter what adverse experience they have gone through or are going through, relatives and friends still with compassion want to show up with valued tidbits of advice and other tangible gifts to show love, respect and concern for their situation.
This act is true, especially for those who claim to be followers of Christ. They show up at hospitals, nursing homes, extended care facilities, homes, prisons, and mental institutions. Many times when they show up, their present or gift is just their presence. Jesus in Matthew 25:34-36, 45) said,
Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.
Christians are called to serve and be present for the “least of these” (v. 45).
However, many have confused the “gift of presence” with the material commodities that are called presents or gifts. Not only do people indulge others with external, yet, finite commodities, but, indulge themselves. They perpetuate the notice that if you look good based on the things you buy, you are somebody. That internalized behavior gets those who indulge into a lot of trouble by developing idols (cars, money, clothes, jewelry), creating dependencies (gas, alcohol, fashion, “bling-bling”); building debt (credit cards, promissory notes, gambling); and stratifying community and family (classism, sexism, ageism, racism, genderism). Intentions are good; but, people have been socialized to follow the desires of those who market and advertise how you should look, feel, have or be! That is a philosophy to which many subscribe. But, thank God for God’s grace and mercy to allow people to discern what and where their treasures are. Where are your treasures? Be careful and allow the “stone to be rolled away!”
In verses 3-5, the women were astonished, perplexed, and terrified. They did not know what to think or even what to say. Instead of finding the remains of Jesus, they were confronted by “two men in dazzling clothes.” Luke does not disclose if they were angels. The women only noticed their appearance was strikingly bright.
Has it been your experience when you were being tossed and turned by people and situations that rejected you, your gifts, and determination or commitment? Yet, God always had persons to walk, sit or stand with and to assure you that everything would be all right? Be assured that the Lord is not in the mess, the confusion of others’ mind, the dead heat of unnecessary debate. The Lord was not at the tomb! The writer, Luke, shared the revelation that the “two men in dazzling clothes” who were seen by the women asked, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” The Lord does not live among the dead. The Lord has power over life and death. The Lord is “risen” – He lives! Have you experienced angels watching over you, interceding on your behalf or assuring you that everything was going to be all right? Then, share the revelation!
As Luke continued with the revelation that happened on the third day, he allowed the reader to focus on the women from Galilee to help understand and learn from their behavior. When you are in a situation and you have no utterances or words that can or will describe your thoughts or feeling, you begin to remember. The women remembered,
The Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified and on the third day rise again. (24:7)
The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priest, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. (9:22)
The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands. (9:4)
For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again. (18:32-33).
Therefore, you too, remember that Jesus predicted his walk, the walk to accomplish his mission for the salvation of God’s people. God provides promises through his messengers. In the Letter of James, Chapter 1:2-4, the writer states:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you maybe mature and complete, lacking in nothing.
In the Gospel of John, chapter 16, verse 33, Jesus promises: “In this world you will have trouble. But, take heart! I have overcome the world.” As you remember, share the revelation, witness to others what the Lord said he would do, and what the Lord did do! Share the revelation!
The second behavior that Luke identified is that the women returned. As you look at verses 9-11, women were identified as those who returned from the tomb – Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. In these verses, Luke was more inclusive with other unnamed women who followed Jesus, and who witnessed this miraculous event. Yes, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James were part of the inner circle; but , you and others are also witnesses of the miraculous events of a resurrection such as –
- The women returned to the church,
- The women returned to the preachers, teachers, evangelists, apostles, priests;
- The women returned to where they were grounded in faith, hope, love, and truth;
- The women returned to their faith community;
- The women returned to the fellowship;
- The women return.
The women returned to be obedient to what Jesus required of them – to do as believers. The women returned to report!
The women returned to witness the work of the Lord. It does not matter whether you are believed by others or not. What matters is that you tell the truth; witness to others about what Jesus had done; and, witness to those who believe and those who do not believe. What is required as followers of Christ is to speak truth with love and profess the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ. Be a witness that –
- You know a man who was a drunkard and now is raised to be a deacon.
- You know a woman who was dead and gone as a prostitute who was raised and now a preacher.
- You saw a boy who was ebbed out on drugs and has risen to evangelize.
- You saw a girl who was dead in her own self-esteem, and now she rose to be the educated doctor helping and healing others to see what they can be.
- You saw a women who was dead in grief, but is alive and doing well
You return to tell about witnessing the death of a notion that a man born as an African American cannot lead a country; but, now was raised with a new understanding and the audacity that he did seek and was elected to be the President of the United States of America. So, according to the Bible in Philippines 4:35, that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. So, share the revelation, return and report to others.
Finally, Luke wants believers to receive. Verse 12 allows you to acknowledge your own doubts about what you hear from others. It convicts you to find out for yourself. The gospel states:
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.
This was an interesting phenomenon:
- It was Peter, the rock, the one who discerned that Jesus is the Son of the Living.
- It was Peter who would defend Jesus with his sword.
- It was Peter who prayed with him and witnessed the conversation among Jesus, Elijah and Moses on the Mount of configuration.
- It was Peter who denied that he knew Jesus three times when Jesus was arrested.
- It was Peter who got up and ran to the tomb.
- It was Peter who was the first to be curious and rushed to find out for himself.
- It was Peter who believed in Jesus; yet, who did not really understand what Jesus predicted.
Many Christians’ faith resembles Peters when his curiosity became enhanced when others, who were not as close to Jesus, came witnessing to him that Jesus had risen. Like Peter, when Christian’s faith is renewed and confirmed, they anxiously look back to the place where they experienced a dead relationship (i.e., missed opportunities; denied access; abuse; disenfranchised; ridiculed, hated). The dead became alive when racism, sexism, and classism are rolled back; when the representation of dehumanization is uncovered; and when it is revealed that just because Jesus lives, we live.
- Through Jesus, you are given the gift of salvation – receive it.
- Through Jesus, the Christ, you are redeemed – receive it
- Through Jesus, the Christ, you are restored – receive it.
- Through Jesus the Christ, you are reclaimed – receive it.
As amazing as the resurrection of Jesus is, the extraordinary revelation is that Jesus calls us out of darkness into the marvelous light. Go back home, to your family, church, community and share the revelation. Go home to be a witness and tell the story of how you got over. Go and tell all who need to hear, “He lives” – Christ Jesus lives today. How do you know He lives? Because He lives within my heart! Share the revelation!
Rev. Alletta R. Jumper (copywrite April 2007)