It seems incredulous to us that the disciples were still clueless, even after Jesus had spoken clearly to them multiple times prior to his crucifixion that he would be betrayed, handed over to be crucified, would be dead, buried and then on the third day be raised from the dead. And now, it was the third day, early Sunday morning. The women went to the tomb to tend to Jesus’ body for burial. But the tomb was empty. There was nobody there; specifically, there was no body there. They expected to see a body lying on the stone, Jesus’ body. They had brought the ingredients for a proper burial. His body was gone! Missing!
The women were in a panic. They came to finish preparing his body for proper burial because he had died. They watched him die. Their hearts were broken. Their grief was deep. Their hopes were shattered. The least they could do was treat his body with respect; out of the deep love they had for Him. But when they got to the tomb, His body was not there. Scripture says, “While they were wondering about this …” What were they wondering? Were they wondering who had taken his body? Were they wondering if the Romans had done something with it, or the Jewish authorities?
I wonder if they ever wondered about resurrection. Was it even a part of their thinking process? Did the thought ever cross their mind? Even though Jesus explained it several times He would be killed then rise from the dead, did they comprehend he was talking about himself in the present; not in the someday resurrection out there in the future; but today, on the third day?
As they are wondering about this empty tomb and missing body, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning, stood beside them. “The women were afraid and bowed down with their faces to the ground.” (Luke 24:5) Consider the fact that this is at dawn, while it was still dark. You could imagine that the sudden appearance of two men gleaming like lightning appearing out of nowhere would be frightening. The angels said to them, ”Why are you looking for the living among the dead?”
That’s a good question! Why do we look for the living among the dead? It would make sense if Jesus was dead to look for his dead body amongst the dead. That would be the right place, a cemetery. But Jesus said on the third day he would rise from the dead. And He did! And because he did, the tomb was empty! He is no longer dead nor dwelling among the dead.
The angels gave him the great news He is not here he has risen! That is the good news of resurrection Sunday. “He is not here, he is risen!” He lives!
Then the angels reminded the women of what Jesus had said to them it while he was in Galilee. Luke 24:7 says, “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful man, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”
It says, then they remembered his words. I wonder, they remembered His words, but did they believe they were true? Did He really rise from the dead on the third day, today? Did they understand the reality of present-day resurrection?
I wonder about us if we wonder about the same thing. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus every Easter. We talk about when Jesus comes again. Is resurrection reality? Is all this really true? What does it mean for our present reality?
I think we have to understand that resurrection is not just somewhere in the past or just somewhere out in the future, it is now. It is our new life in Christ right now. It is the life of Jesus in you and me now!
In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, Paul talks about the severe trials they were facing; despairing even to the point of death. Verse 9, “Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.”
The apostle Paul recognized that the resurrection power of Jesus, Who is in us helps us today. It helps us when we despair, when we struggle. It helps us to understand that we cannot rely on ourselves but we can rely on God who has the power to raise the dead. And if he has the power to raise the dead, He certainly has the power to help us in whatever our struggles might be. Resurrection power is for us today. The women wondered about the empty tomb. They wondered until they finally came to understand and believe that Jesus is not in the tomb. He is alive! He is risen! They then saw with their own eyes. And that makes all the difference in the world! He is risen!
• The Rev. Dan Wiese is pastor for Church of the Nazarene. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders. It appears every Friday on the Juneau Empire’s Faith page.