Monday, July 29, 2013

In My Father's House (part 8 of 9)

Not finding Him, “they returned to Jerusalem to look for Him” (Luke 2:45b).  As an attempt is made to continue to connect the events surrounding Jesus at the age of twelve with the always-looked-to “Christ-event,” one can here begin to think of the women that came to the tomb of Jesus.  Naturally, they were not going to look for Jesus, nor were they expecting to find anything but a dead body, as there was no expectation of His Resurrection though He is said to have spoken of it many times.  Rather, they were going to anoint His body with spices, in accordance with standard burial custom and practices, so that they could later collect His bones and place them in an ossuary. 

When did the women go to the tomb?  Luke says that it was after three days.  What is known from Luke about the search conducted by Jesus’ parents?  It was “After three days they found Him in the Temple courts” (2:46a).  To this was added that He was “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (2:46b).  With this, one is compelled to consider the scene at Jesus’ empty tomb, where “two men…in dazzling attire” (24:4) spoke to the women who had come there, saying “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has been raised!  Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again” (24:5b-7). 

It would be safe to presume that the women were astonished at this turn of events.  When Jesus was lost to His parents, as they were certainly prone to a very natural fear, it is reasonable to suggest that they considered the possibility that He was dead.  This turned out to not be the case.  Not only was He not dead, and not only had no harm at all come to Him, but they found Him in the Temple courts.  Effectively then, He was raised from the dead right before their eyes. 

In those courts, it was said that “all who heard Jesus were astonished at His understanding and His answers” (2:47) and that “His parents…were overwhelmed” (2:48a).  Returning to the story of the empty tomb then, having heard the words of the two men, the women “told these things to the apostles” (24:10b).  The women were met with a rightful skepticism and incredulity, which is more than understandable.  Certainly, as had likely been the case with the women, Jesus’ disciples were astonished at this story these women were telling, reporting a Resurrection.  Because such a thing simply did not take place under normal circumstances, just like the idea of a twelve-year-old boy being allowed to speak with the teachers in the Temple courts, the understandable reaction was that “these words seemed like pure nonsense to them” (24:11a). 

Furthermore, having heard these nonsensical words, “they (the disciples) did not believe them” (24:11b).  However, “Peter got up and ran to the tomb.  He bent down and saw only the strips of linen cloth; then He went home, wondering what had happened” (24:12).  Peter found himself even more astonished, and though wondering what had happened, the way the story unfolds suggests that he was inclined to begin believing the reports of the women.  Like Jesus’ parents after the conclusion of the ordeal of their missing child, Peter, as he began to consider the possibility that Jesus was alive, might very well have been “overwhelmed.”  Because of Jesus actions in allowing Himself to be tortured and crucified, of His putting Peter in the position to deny his Lord, and causing all of His close followers to cower in fear over what was going to happen to them, Peter may very well have been wondering, again like Jesus’ parents, “why have You treated us like this?” (2:28b) 

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