The story sounded like nonsense

25 04 2011

‘ Tis strange – but true; for truth is always strange;
Stranger than fiction;

(Lord Byron, in the satirical poem Don Juan, 1823)

Luke tells us a strange story in chapter 24 of his gospel.  The women who had been following Jesus went to his tomb to embalm the body only to discover that the body had gone.  They hurried back to tell the men, whose reaction could have been predicted – “But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it.”

Peter rushed off to see for himself but, “then he went home again, wondering what had happened.”

So what was going on?

The women didn’t just find an empty tomb, they also had an angelic encounter, two “men” who told them the truth – “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!”  They went on to remind the women of things that Jesus had told them in the past – “Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” 

It’s easy for us to think, “How could they possibly have forgotten that?” but do you never have selective hearing?  Luke doesn’t say so, but my guess is that Jesus said some things that were so strange to the ears of his followers that they hung them as questions in a wardrobe and firmly closed the door. 

Now the door is wide open and Jesus’ followers have to confront their questions.

“From the beginning, the gospel is good news not least because it dares to tell us things we didn’t expect, weren’t inclined to believe, and couldn’t understand.  Did we expect the gospel would be something obvious, something we could have dreamed up for ourselves?”

Tom Wright

If you want to look back at the times when Jesus talked about his death and resurrection, go to Luke 9:22, 43-45; 18:31-33 and for implied resurrection in what he said check out Luke 15:24, 32; 16:31.

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