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Scripture for Sunday, April 16, 2017: Luke 24:1-12
The women, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, don’t know it is Easter Sunday morning. When they go to the graveyard they come looking for the dead body of Jesus. He died on Friday. On Saturday they rested. On Sunday they search for the dead, where the dead can be found. They come to the tomb. But they cannot find the dead body. Did robbers come? Have wild animals dragged the body away? Were they in the right graveyard? It couldn’t be resurrection. Could it? While they wonder what happened to the body two angels begin asking hard questions, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
What kind of question is this? With their own eyes they had seen Jesus dead and buried in this very tomb. That was the sad end to what began as a glorious week. On Palm Sunday hope soared. The long expected Messiah, who would establish the Kingdom of God, was acknowledged by the crowds. But then on Friday the hopes of the women and the eleven disciples died and the seeds of doubt were sown.
The angels’ question pushes the women past the doubt that is growing in their hearts by reminding them of Jesus’ own testimony, “The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”
I suspect our instinct is to go easy of the women and on the disciples. After all, we are familiar with doubt and acquainted with unbelief. We all have hopes that God’s plan for us will include success, happiness and security. When failure, sadness and insecurity strike our hopes die and we bury them. These buried hopes can be seeds of doubt. There was that relationship that you hoped and prayed would be reconciled, but it ended in divorce. Hope died, was buried, and now you are doubting that God values marriage. There is that addiction you thought had been conquered, but when you least expect it overwhelms you with a ferocity that cannot be combated. Your hope to be free from addiction is buried, and you begin to doubt that God has conquered sin. Grief wells up at an awkward moment. And your hope that you were moving on dies a little, and you doubt that God gives the victory over the sting of death.
Friends, Jesus is risen. Although we might enter Easter with seeds of doubt because of dead hopes, our doubt cannot stop Easter life. The resurrection is powerful enough to enliven the hopes that lie dead and buried in our past, present and even our future. Easter teaches us that even dead hopes can be transformed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
1. What hopes for either yourself or others have died in you?
2. Have these dead hopes sprouted into doubt? Do you carry doubt into this Easter season?
Using your sanctified imagination, imagine the hopes that have died being buried with Christ. Imagine these dead hopes being raised with Christ.