Luke 24:1-12
The Rev. Adele K. Langworthy, preaching
March 31, 2024
Easter Sunday Worship (8:00 a.m.)


The quartet just highlighted for us that the darkness of death could not be contained by a dark, cold grave and that Jesus rose to tell the world that he has power in his hands!   And that he does!!

Today, it is raining outside; and to all appearances for some, it is a bleak and dreary day—but here in the Lord’s presence as we worship together, the only “rain” we need focus on is the r-e-i-g-n, reign of our Lord Jesus Christ!

The key to focusing on the reign of our Lord Jesus is in verses 8 and 9 of our passage this morning.

Before spending time on these key verses, I want to make sure we know our cast in this passage:

  1. We have those who went to the tomb — Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and some other women — a group of female followers (most likely in Jesus’ inner circle) who loved him and wanted to care for him even after this death.
  2. We have two men in dazzling clothes, messengers of God. They not only deliver the news about Jesus being alive, they invite the women to engage and to remember.
  3. We have the apostles that simply did not believe the news the women brought. Because they could not accept what the women reported as fact and did not remember the words of Jesus, they were left to wallow in their grief – that is, except for Peter.  Peter heard what the women said;  but rather than staying in his ‘’grief bubble’; he chose not to accept the news outright but to see the tomb for himself.

Now we are ready to take a deeper look at verses 8 and 9.  Turning to the passage we read, “Then they (that, is the women ) remembered his (that is, Jesus’) words when he told them that “the Son of Man must be handed over to the hands of sinners and be crucified and on the third day rise again.”

The women were able to believe what happened at the tomb because they remembered what Jesus had said.  He said he would rise, and that he did!

The women received God’s message and believed because they had listened.  They may not have totally understood what he said, but they had held on to his words and when the time was right, they were able to stand by his word.  Jesus reigned in their hearts and minds!

To focus on the reign of Jesus as Lord, we must, as did the women, know Jesus’ words, remember them and stand by them.  As it is written in Romans 10:17, Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.

The women put themselves in position to hear from God by going to the tomb, seeking to be in the presence of Jesus (even when they at the time thought him to be dead).

Jon Mutchler writes, “On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted” (in the state of Washington).  Jon goes on to write, “I had just started my first year at Western Washington University and recall standing outside the Performing Arts Center looking south toward the eerie and colorful red skies, emblazoned by the sun’s reflection upon tons of airborne volcanic ash.  Many students heard the morning explosion some 200 miles away.

“My wife heard the blast standing outside her home and thought something large had fallen and crashed inside the house.  The explosion, like a nuclear bomb, was heard as far away as 600 miles. It killed 57 people.

“Can you imagine being right next to it?  Standing near, as many did, at the head waters of the Toutle and Cowlitz Rivers, which in short order flooded with debris from the mountain’s blast?

“A number of men and women were rescued within a few miles of the mountain, and they testified to the most amazing thing.  They did not hear the explosion!  Some, a mile or two away, thought that the darkened sky from the immediate blast was cloud cover and rain. How could that be?

“They were in a ‘zone of silence.’  Scientists explain that the incredible upward thrust of the exploding mountain also sent the sound of the event upward into the atmosphere where it bounced back to earth (several times), but in intervals outward and away from ground zero.

“So although people like old Harry were right next to the disaster (on Spirit Lake’s shores in the volcano’s shadow), they wouldn’t know of the eruption unless they were looking at the mountain at that moment.”

Like Old Harry, the apostles were looking the other way   — rather than looking at the tomb, they were looking at their own pain.  Their friend, mentor and leader had been killed as a common criminal.  They were in a ’zone of silence’ so to speak, feeling abandoned and lost.  They weren’t in any mood to remember what Jesus had said or to entertain the thought that Jesus’ stood by his words and hadn’t deserted them, as He said in John 16:16 “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.”  Not standing by Jesus’ words, not only kept them from remembering, it weakened their faith.  There was no joy for them.

Unlike the other apostles, even though Peter didn’t readily believe, he sought confirmation of Jesus’ resurrection.  Yes, Peter went to verify the women’s report; but even more important, Peter discovered that Jesus’ word was true — three days after his death, he had risen.  Filled with amazement at the verification, he could without a doubt and with full assurance of faith stand by the word of the one he knew to be the Messiah.

As you hear the resurrection story today, with whom do you identify more?

  • The apostles following Jesus’ death, focusing on your own life’s woes and not really able to hear Jesus’ word and stand by it?
  • Peter at the tomb, seeking verification before standing by Jesus’ word?
  • The women, remembering Jesus word and moving forward in faith, standing strong by his word?

How might you more faithfully live the gift of Jesus’ resurrection and firmly stand by his word?

  • Perhaps you start your day with a prayer inviting Jesus to help you to remember the power of the resurrection and embrace that which you have learned from Jesus
  • Perhaps you focus on a scripture passage for the day, revisiting the passage throughout the day that you might be open to new insights
  • Perhaps you seek to listen to Christian songs and hymns that can feed your soul, encouraging you to move beyond yourself and to faithfully follow

Remember:  It is in standing by his word that hidden promises are realized, silences are filled with hope, doubts are turned into moments of believing.

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