Monday, April 13, 2020


It was such a flurry of events for the women on that Sunday morning of the Resurrection Day that it is difficult to piece together exactly which woman was doing what at every single moment.
However, from the different accounts given to us in the four gospels, we do know that there was more than one trip to the tomb of Jesus, either in small groups, or as we saw with Mary Magdalene, even alone.
At one point after Mary Magdalene had spoken with Jesus near the tomb, Jesus actually met several other women and greeted them on the trail between the tomb and the city. The women bowed down to him and even grasped his feet in worship.[1]
Much of what was happening was taking place at a rapid pace in the dim, pre-dawn light and even while it was still dark.[2] Besides that, it seems that the disciples, although they were all in hiding and behind locked doors, were not all in the same building. They were in a few separate locations and even in their own homes.[3]

We also learned that the women did not immediately follow the instructions of the angels when they were told to give the news to the disciples that Jesus had been resurrected.[4] Nevertheless, sometime in the course of the morning, the news did come to all of the disciples, plus the instructions for the disciples that the angels told the women to relay to them: “Go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.’”[5]
Jesus had said the same thing to the women who had met him on the trail and were grasping his feet. “Go and tell My brothers to go to Galilee. There they will see Me.”[6]
I always try to be cautious about guessing at the thoughts of the Bible characters at any specific moment, but I cannot help but wonder if the disciples did not at first intend to do this. I say this for a couple of reasons. The first reason I suspect this is because later, when Jesus was eating with the disciples, he scolded them for not believing the women and leaving for Galilee immediately.[7] Then, even when the disciples finally were in Galilee, some continued to doubt he was actually Jesus![8]
The second reason that I suspect that the disciples either did not intend to go to Galilee or that they at least were extremely slow about getting going, is that Jesus had to go look them up!
The first appearance of Jesus to some of the men seems to be on a road that led out of Jerusalem to the town of Emmaus. As far as the accounts tell us, this was the very first actual appearance of Jesus to some of the men, and it was not even with the eleven closest disciples of Jesus. It was with two other men, one named Cleopas, and one other man whose name is not even given.
These two men were walking along the road, on their way not to Galilee, but simply to Emmaus, which was a town about seven miles from Jerusalem.[9] As the two men walked, they were talking about the same thing that everyone else in the region was: They were talking about the events of the weekend in Jerusalem—the mock trial of Jesus, the beatings, the crucifixion, and the placing of the body of Jesus in a tomb at the cemetery, which was secured by Roman guards and by a seal placed on the stone that covered the entrance.
And especially the two men were talking about the latest rumors started by some of the women, the ones that said that Jesus was no longer dead, but that he was alive. It had been said that on that very day, the third day after he was killed, he rose from the dead!
As the two walked along, they were joined by a third man. The man was actually Jesus, but the gospel writer Luke says that “their eyes were kept from recognizing him.”
“What are you two talking about?” Jesus asked them.
The men stopped in their tracks, amazed. “Are You the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in recent days?” Cleopas asked Jesus.
“What things?”
Incredible as it seemed to Cleopas and his traveling companion, this stranger seemed not to know about any of the events of the weekend.
“The events involving Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered him.
They then proceeded to describe to Jesus the entire story, including who Jesus of Nazareth was.

“He was a prophet, powerful in speech and action before God and all the people” they told Jesus. The two men explained how they had placed their confidence in Jesus, hoping that he would be the promised one who was to be sent to redeem Israel.
But the most astounding thing were the reports from the women. “They were at the tomb early this morning,” the two travelers told Jesus, “but his body was not there. Then the women told us they had seen angels, who said to them that Jesus was alive!”
The two men then told Jesus that some of the disciples had later gone to the tomb to see if what the women said was correct. There was no body, the disciples had said, but neither did they see Jesus alive.
Jesus listened patiently to all that the two men were telling him, but finally could listen no more.
“O foolish ones,” Jesus abruptly interjected. “How can your hearts be so slow in believing all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and then to enter His glory?”[10]
Then Jesus began to educate Cleopas and his friend. Beginning with what Moses had said, and then the Prophets, Jesus explained to them what was written in all the Scriptures about the Christ.
By now the three men were getting near to Emmaus. Jesus made it seem like he was going to continue and would not be stopping at the village, but the two men wanted to hear more of what this stranger was telling them.
They pleaded with Jesus, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
Jesus consented to do so, and soon was at the table with them to have a meal. Jesus took some of the bread, spoke a blessing over it, and handed each one a piece.
When he did this, the two men instantly recognized him. “Their eyes were opened,” Luke writes.
But then, just like that—Jesus was gone. He disappeared from their sight. In retrospect, the two travelers realized that they should have recognized Jesus well before.
“Were not our hearts burning within us as he spoke with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” they asked one another.
Their purpose for going to Emmaus was now forgotten. They got up and returned on the very same route that they had just taken—seven miles back to Jerusalem. When they arrived back in the city, they found the eleven disciples no longer in separate places, but now gathered together.
Apparently, at some point during that day, Jesus had also appeared to Simon Peter,[11] so all the disciples had come together to discuss what this could mean. They were not so quick to believe the women when they spoke of the risen Christ, but now that Peter had also seen him, this was evidently enough to begin to convince them. The two men from Emmaus also then were able to share with the disciples about their own extended conversation with Jesus.
Some of the disciples seemed now to be convinced that Jesus was alive, but the two men also met with some skepticism. Some of the disciples did not believe them.[12] Perhaps like the disciples responded to the testimony of the women who had spoken with the angels, the words of these two men seemed like “nonsense.”
Then, while the two travelers were meeting with the eleven and whoever else may have been present, Jesus suddenly appeared in their midst.
Originally, we remember that the instructions that Jesus sent to the disciples was that they were supposed to go to Galilee, and that he would meet with them there. But it seems that when Jesus saw the hesitancy of the disciples to do this, he must have thought that he would have to modify these directives. These men simply were not moving!
“Why do doubts arise in your hearts?” Jesus rebuked them, “Look at my hands and my feet! Touch me and look at me! A spirit does not have flesh and bones!”
Perhaps the disciples were so hesitant to believe because it simply all seemed too good to be true. At least that is how Luke makes it sound when he writes, “They were still in disbelief because of their joy and amazement.”[13]
Jesus then asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”
He thought that if they would see him eat something, it would help them to see that it was indeed him—alive. After all, the two travelers from Emmaus recognized him during this act of taking a meal together. Perhaps it would help again.
In the end, the disciples eventually did make it up to Galilee, but we are not told just how long it took. Even by the time they did make it up there however, not all of them were believing in the resurrection. And for those who did, they still were cautious about committing themselves too strongly. It actually took Jesus forty days of appearances to the disciples[14] to finally convince them of the resurrection. It also took several rebukes from Jesus.
I would like to criticize the disciples for their slowness to believe, and for their cynicism. But the truth be told, I see too much of myself in these men to make that condemnation. Like them, I also tend to view any claim that someone presents to me with an initial inherent skepticism. I am not quick to accept what someone tells me, and I even sometimes catch myself simply assuming that they are trying to deceive me in some way with absolutely no reason to think so.
In the world in which we live, I actually believe that a bit of skepticism is a healthy thing. Scammers and deceivers are everywhere. They come to us by telephone and the mail, also by email and even in person. Everywhere there are people who are seeking new and unique ways to get the money that is in our pockets into their pockets.
Even most of the religious scams are done primarily for money. If the deceiver can get you to believe in his or her religion or cause, then they will convince you that you must also contribute.
A bit of skepticism may be a healthy thing, but one can easily let this rule his or her life. God understands this about us, and I actually think that he usually comes to us in small steps as he did to the disciples to convince them that he had risen from the dead.
He does not usually lay everything out on the line for us to make a decision to accept or reject, but he puts us in small situations to cause us to question some of our assumptions. He puts a person in our life who affects us in a certain way. He gives to us a health crisis, or a financial crisis. In it all, he is trying to show us that he is worthy of our confidence.
At least this is what God has done for me. He presented me with various situations where I would have to take him at his word. I had no other evidence. I simply had what he told me in the Bible. Every time he proved himself true. Every single time I could see that he meant what he said and that his promises were reliable.
And with every piece of evidence, my belief grew. I do not mean to say that I am done growing. I still have doubts. I am still a skeptic at heart, but even greater than that, I have become a believer.
God says “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” It is when we have tasted that goodness of the Lord that we will begin to take our refuge in him and be blessed. [15]
Among all of the original disciples, I believe Peter was one of the biggest of the skeptics. There were a few others however. Do you remember Nathanael’s first reaction to what was told to him about Jesus?

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”[16] 
And of course we remember “Doubting Thomas,” whose reaction to the news of the resurrected Jesus was, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”[17] 
Peter only decided to become a follower of Jesus after he saw Jesus do something in his life that was unexplainable by logic. He had a taste of the goodness of Jesus, then became a disciple. [18] 
And it was Peter who wrote the following words: “Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. Like newborn babies, long for the pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”[19]   
Do you see that first comes the taste, and then comes the commitment to follow and to grow in our salvation?
Jesus is alive!
You don’t believe it?
Taste, and see that the Lord is good.

[1] Matthew 28:9
[2] John 20:1
[3] John 20:10
[4] Mark 16:8
[5] Mark 16:7
[6] Matthew 28:10
[7] Mark 16:14
[8] Matthew 28:17
[9] Luke 24:13
[10] Luke 24:25-27
[11] There is nothing mentioned of this in any of Peter’s letters, but Paul does also refer to this in 1 Corinthians 15:5
[12] Mark 16:13
[13] Luke 24:41
[14] Acts 1:3
[15] Psalm 34:8
[16] John 1:46
[17] John 20:25
[18] Luke 5:1-11
[19] 1 Peter 2:1-3

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