Lectionary Year C : Sunday 21st April 2019

♦ ♦ ♦ LUKE 24 : 1 – 12  ♦ ♦ ♦ THE RESURRECTION

The names may differ, but all the Gospels agree that the first witnesses of the empty tomb were the women who followed Jesus to the cross, and then to his grave. Luke describes them as ‘perplexed’. Having brought spices to anoint Jesus’ body, they clearly weren’t anticipating the resurrection. But as soon as the mysterious men in dazzling clothes remind them that Jesus had predicted he would rise again (Luke 9.22), they rush back into the city to tell the disciples and the rest of Jesus’ followers that he has risen. Mary Magdalene has been called the ‘apostle to the apostles’, but she is not the only one. All the women Luke lists in verse 10 could bear that title. Ironically, the apostles initially disbelieve them, perhaps because women were not considered to be reliable witnesses under Jewish law. But the women’s faithfulness at the end of the Gospel mirrors that of Elizabeth and Mary at the beginning. Throughout his Gospel, Luke consistently shows women, as well as men, proclaiming the good news of our salvation in Christ.

Peter then sees the empty tomb for himself. Rather curiously, ‘then he went home, amazed at what had happened’ (v.12). We do not see him immediately bearing witness, as the women had. The story of the Emmaus road intervenes, and it is only as that story ends that we hear that Peter has told the rest of Jesus’ followers. Perhaps he needed time to process his amazement.

‘You are witnesses of these things’ (Luke 24.48), Jesus says. As the Gospel ends, Jesus commissions all his followers (not just the eleven) to proclaim his death and resurrection to all nations, along with the message of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. As we celebrate the joy of Easter, we are invited to reflect on our own role as witnesses, and to be encouraged that the Spirit will inspire and empower us to proclaim the good news.

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