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"They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, 'Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here but raised up. Remember how He told you when you were still back in Galilee that He had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross and in three days rise up?' Then they remembered Jesus' words." Luke 24:4-8 (The Message).
Funny how their grief blotted out the women's ability to think straight! Had they remembered Jesus' words, they could have saved themselves a whole weekend of emotional pain, and unnecessary activity and expense. Instead of weeping useless tears and spending their time and money preparing to preserve the body of Jesus for a little while longer, they could have enjoyed their Sabbath in anticipation of their beloved Master's return.
I have often wondered why their minds refused to receive the promise of His resurrection. His disciples had heard the same information many times but they still didn't get it. For some reason the women, who were far more receptive than the men, didn't get it either. They believed He was dead and that He would stay dead and their belief brought forth the flood of grief that shut out the possibility for them, of His words being fulfilled.
Not even angelic visitors from the other side could convince them that Jesus was alive. The appearance of these two men was so startling that the women were overwhelmed and fell down in worship. They must have made an impression on them. No one can meet an unearthly being like these and not take note!
It took this powerful visitation to remind them of Jesus' promise. but even that did not seem to have the desired effect on them. They remembered, yes, but what else? As the story unfolds, we will see how unbelief was like a disease that spread among Jesus' followers.
As much as this was part of their journey, so it is a part of ours. The robust faith of the early church was the product of a painful process of failure and learning which formed the foundation of their unshakeable confidence in their Lord. He was as dead as anyone could be, but He rose again and was powerfully alive and at work in and among them.
They only knew that because they had passed through the terrible grief of their loss to the indescribable joy of His resurrection. Their faith was not automatic and neither is ours. But our experience must never end at the tomb with eyes blinded by sorrow and ears deaf to His promise. Like them, we must pass through death to resurrection, through sorrow to joy and through despair to hope.
No matter what our pain or loss might be, it gains its true value only when we come through it to a faith in God stronger and more secure than before the trial. Suffering has no value if it does not take us into a peace and security that does not make sense in the natural. It is rooted in a God who is with us and for us because He did not leave His Son's body to rot in a rocky tomb.
No religion, based on human imagination with roots men's minds, not in history, can match the story of Jesus. His life, death and resurrection happened as God said it would, and with that comes the certainty that everything else He said is true. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16 (NIV).
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