The “Fourth Week”: Week Twenty-Seven/Session Three.
Theme: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Our reading for today: Luke 24: 9-12.
They (the women) left the tomb and broke the news of all this to the Eleven and the rest. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them kept telling these things to the apostles, but the apostles didn’t believe a word of it, thought they were making it all up. But Peter jumped to his feet and ran to the tomb. He stooped to look in and saw a few grave clothes, that’s all. He walked away puzzled, shaking his head. (Luke 24: 9-12 MsgB)
One of the reason’s I find the New Testament gospel stories about Jesus so trustworthy is the fact that the writers never attempt to puff up the main characters surrounding the Son of Man.
In our last blog’s scriptural passage, Luke’s gospel tells us that the women going to the graveyard early on Sunday morning were so unbelieving, the two angels had to sarcastically jog their memories on what Jesus had promised earlier about His coming resurrection. “Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery” was the angel’s question to Jesus’ friends.
Now here Luke goes on to tell us that when these same nice ladies are finally starting to get it into their thick heads that Jesus is actually alive, they bring this good news message to Jesus’ disciples, only to find that these loyal followers are equally, if not more stubborn in their ability to believe a word of it!
What kind of Christian super-heroes do we have here, Luke?
If I were going to write a gospel (a good news story) about the life–changing power of Jesus of Nazareth, encouraging folks to believe in this man who is sent by God to transform our human existence, why in the world would I show the lethargic attitudes and sad belief systems of these first-century men and women of God? Wouldn’t this story sell much better to others if we made the main characters into bold and brave super-humans who take more after God and His powerful nature than pitiful unbelievers who can barely get themselves off the sofa?
Well, at least Luke gives us a better picture of Peter. Here’s Pete, man enough to run to the tomb and at least check out the women’s amazing story. That’s a nice touch, don’t you think?
Why do we see Peter stooping over the grave clothes, scratching his head in bewilderment and walking away puzzled? What kind of super-Christian is this, Luke? Why would any gospel-writer whose job is to create a story to convince others about Jesus use these less-than-impressive pictures of people who are so sadly lacking in their ability to believe God’s truth?
As I see it, the most obvious answer to that question is that Luke, and the other writers of the gospel stories aren’t trying to create an impressive action story; but are just telling the gut-honest truth of the matter for all the world to see. Jesus is our super-hero, sent from God in heaven. Everyone else is just pretty much your every-day, run-the-the-mill average earth-dweller.
And frankly, it’s these gut-honest, less than invigorating pictures of real-life people and the lack-luster way these men and women respond to the miracle of all miracles that actually helps convince me that this amazing resurrection story of Jesus is the real deal!
I mean think about it here.
How encouraging is it for you and me, living here in the twenty-first century, to find that these folks who followed Jesus at the very beginning are not all that different from the rest of us poor suckers who have a hard time embracing these miracle stories about Jesus? For me, this actually gives me great hope!
If Jesus, the living Son of God, can still work His amazing Kingdom message and ministry through these slow-believing and stiff-necked disciples of the first century, how much more can He still work through truly average, lukewarm people like us today?
Thank you for being so truthful about these first-century losers! Thank you that you tell the truth about Peter and this gang of men and women who are just a bit slow in believing, somewhat confused and bewildered, shaking their heads in puzzlement at the amazing resurrection of the Son of God. For me, I’m now encouraged that there’s still hope, even when we, Jesus’ contemporary followers, seem equally slow and bewildered today.
My prayer: Lord, as the saying goes, honesty is always the best policy. And while these honest pictures of Your first-century followers are difficult, at times, for us to read, I’m so thankful that this picture also gives us great hope that even when we are less than stellar in our response to Your power, You still embrace us, giving us hope and guidance for the future. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: Peter, the women at the grave, and the disciples in general, had all been through some pretty difficult and trying situations over the last few days before the resurrection of Jesus. How might those experiences have played into the their ability to be positive and believing toward this amazing news of Jesus being alive? Are there disappointments and other trying situations that are weakening my belief system today? If so, how can I give those matters over to God, honestly admitting to Him that I’m allowing these earthly matters to greatly affect my faith?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?
Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!
To go onto the next journal entry…click here.