Scripture: Luke 24:4-8
What key questions and unusual observations did you note as you read the passage?
1. The role of women in the resurrection story.
It is very interesting that God chose for the first witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection to be women. In the culture of that time the testimony of women was not taken seriously. It was the witness of men that counted. In fact, Luke 24:11 indicates that the disciples did not take the women’s first report seriously. So it is important for us ask the question, “Why was it that the first to notice the empty tomb, and the first to hear the angel message, and the first to meet Jesus, were all women?”
I observed the following about these women. First of all, the Bible specifically notes that these were the women who supported Jesus and his disciples out of their own means as he traveled (Mt. 27:55; Mk. 15:41; Lk. 23:49). Second, I note that these experiences came to them, not because they sought them in any way, but simply because they happened to be at the tomb first. And they were there on an errand of humble service; they intended to anoint Jesus’ body with additional spices. So, on the level of the narrative, I conclude that the women came to be first because of their support caring and service to Jesus.
From a theological point of view, one cannot help but feel that Jesus allowed this special focus on the women who followed him as a part of his overall elevation of the role of women compared to the culture around him. For in his teaching he taught women as well as men. Synagogues focused on the men. In his ministries he healed women as well as men. And though all of his 12 disciples were men, it is clear that some of those who followed him and some of the disciples who were in the upper room at Pentecost were also women; and this was very accepted by the 12 presumably because of Jesus example.
2. The role of angels in the resurrection story.
Angels have many roles in Scriptures. But one of the most common is as messengers to human beings. The women would’ve understood seeing a shining being delivering a message from hearing Old Testament stories.
Angels often appeared as human beings in the *Old Testament (Jos 5:13) and also often appeared in radiant garments or bodies (cf. 2 Ki 6:17; Da 10:5-6). The latter was especially the case in contemporary Jewish texts (i.e., in the expectations of the people to whom this revelation is being given). (from IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.)
Notice that the angel does not allow the women to focus on them. He immediately directs their focus to Jesus. He reminds them of Jesus words. He tells them what has happened concerning Jesus; and, in the version of the story found in Matthew 28:6,7, he instructs them to tell the disciples and to expect to see Jesus again in Galilee.
We note also, that Luke records the presence of two angels, while both Matthew and John mention only one. The fact that Luke mentions two angels does not make Matthew’s and John’s accounts false; it only means that Matthew and John only mentioned one of the two angels.
3. The Angel’s message
We are inspired by the challenge of the angels first. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” It is a shock to their thinking. It had not occurred to them to think about Jesus as alive! This again testifies to how unexpected the resurrection of Jesus was to all his followers. The angels needed to remind the women about Jesus teachings concerning his death and his predictions of his resurrection. Luke 24:1-12
There was a kind rebuke in his message as he reminded them of their bad memories! More than once, Jesus had told His followers that He would suffer and die and be raised from the dead (Mt 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; Lk 9:22,44; 18:31-34). How sad it is when God’s people forget His Word and live defeated lives. Today, the Spirit of God assists us to remember His Word (Jn 14:26). (from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)
What are their implications for understanding the passage?
Why do you feel God allowed the women to be the first to see the empty tomb, hear the angel report, and see Jesus?
How do these factors contribute to the overall New Testament picture of the role of women?
Why do you think the women did not remember Jesus teaching when they saw that the tomb was empty? See especially Luke 9:44,45; Matt. 16:21-23.
What ways does God use to remind us of Jesus teachings today?
What might have happened to the women without this message? What happens to us without God’s message?
What is the role/significance of this event/passage in the Gospel story?
I remember a seminary professor describing the revelation that God has given us of himself as a deed-word revelation. What he meant was: God has not just acted in history, he has also interpreted his actions for us by sending someone with a message, “This is what the Lord says.” The role of the angels in this passage in Luke is to provide the interpretation for the empty tomb, even before the disciples see Jesus. Resurrection was so far from the disciples expectations that God needed to prepare their minds to see the risen Christ. He also needed to remind them that this was in accord with what Jesus had taught.
What inspirational “take home” impressed me?
Let’s take just a moment and try to enter into the feelings of the disciples as they heard those words, “He is not here, he has risen.” How do you imagine their feelings?
Then the Angels reminded them that Jesus had predicted that he would rise from the dead. Certainly they remembered this for his enemies remembered it (Mt. 27:63). In fact, the Bible records that after the Transfiguration Jesus had told them to keep that matter to themselves until after he had risen from the dead. At that time, they were discussing among themselves what rising from the dead could possibly mean (Mark 9:10). How might they have reacted to the Angels’ reminder?
Every time I read these words, I cannot help but enter in a little bit to disciples’ sense of wonderment. “So this is what he meant,” they are saying to themselves. “He actually meant that he would come out of the grave! Amazing! Fantastic!” And I’m sure their next thought was, “I can’t wait to tell….” I believe every time we read the Easter story, that sense of awe and wonder needs to return to our lives. It will help us to worship the risen Christ. And it will help us to also want to tell others of what Jesus has accomplished.
What else comes to your mind?