Luke’s account of the resurrection is unique in several ways. He emphasizes the role of the women at the empty tomb more than any of the other gospels. He also tells us that there were a great many women, more than just a few. Luke’s gospel is the only gospel that doesn’t mention Jesus appearing to the women before they relayed the story to the disciples. In fact, Luke’s gospel seems to emphasize doubt, on the part of the disciples but even on the part of the women.
And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. (Luke 24:55-56)
Who were these women? Matthew’s gospel says “the two Marys”; Mark says Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome; John’s gospel mentions Mary Magdalene; and in Luke we are told “It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles” (Lk. 24:10). These women, and many of them, the daughters of Jerusalem as they are called (Lk. 23:27-28), were those who came to the grave.
Notice these women’s conflicting emotions and feelings. Notice their doubt:
Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’”
When the women told their story to the apostles, the apostles’ doubted. “And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.” (Luke 24:11)
Compare this with Mark 16:10-13:
She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.
After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either.
It is clear that the people did not believe the women’s reports. How could they believe such a thing? Even in the 1st century people knew that dead men don’t come back to life.
And you have to wonder if the women didn’t doubt themselves. Imagine– Peter, James, and John don’t believe you when you tell them that Jesus is risen. You are but lowly women. Yet YOU, you are the ones who are supposed to tell everyone the good news. And perhaps the report depends solely on you. What if Jesus doesn’t show himself to anyone else? Wait. What if you imagined it all? What if you are a little bit crazy?
And you know, we are just like them. We all doubt. We all doubt ourselves. We all doubt whether or not God is going to take care of us. Think of the many issues that are causing us to doubt right now.
We could doubt about our church. It’s a small church. Are we really a “real church”? Do we have our act together? We don’t even own our building. Are we going to make it?
We could doubt about our families. Are we doing the right thing? Are our kids going to be ok?
We could doubt about our nation. Surely there is much to doubt about there. If we don’t even know what marriage is, then what hope is there for us?!
Even when we want to believe, we struggle. We know what we are supposed to believe, but we doubt. This was that feeling, even on Easter!
Only encountering Christ brings assurance. But the women did encounter him. The apostles did encounter him. We have encountered him! Knowing God is the only to have assurance, and this comes through encountering the risen Christ. And so then, let us turn our hearts to Easter.
Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatlyperplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’” (Luke 24:1-7)
It’s all true, every last bit of it. When Peter and the others ran to the tomb, they found it empty. And that means that Jesus was who He said he was. This means He is the Lord, the Son of God. He is in control. He has conquered death, and he reigns on high!
This is the Jesus you must know. This is the Jesus you must serve.
Remember, He is not here, but is risen! Believe.
At the end of it all, everything is going to be taken care of. God is in control of this world and our destinies. He has proven His strength. We can rest assured that “it is all going to be ok” because He is risen, He is risen indeed!