Faithful Until Faith Remembers (24:1-8)
It might be tempting to look down upon these women. Their actions reveal that they doubted, disregarded, or forgot the words of Jesus about His death. Yet the angels did not reprimand these women, but rather gave them the admonition to remember (a command given over 150 times in the Bible).
The journey of these women often mirrors our own journey of faith. We hear and then forget, doubt, disregard or misunderstand God’s Word. Because of this we take steps of perceived (and very sincere) obedience. God honors our misguided faith with patience and graciously orchestrates His purpose through our mishaps.
Reflection: Notice how the women do not feel condemned or embarrassed in this situation; neither do they put others down (“At least we went the tomb. Nobody else did.”). They recognize that the moment is not about them. This is proof of the genuineness of their faith and worship. Place yourself in a moment of correction in which you were immediately asked to report something significant that revealed your error. What would your typical response be?
Disbelieved For Joy (24:41)
You have to love the descriptive honesty of Scripture. The initial response of joy by the disciples did not reveal faith, but mere pleasure at the introduction of hope. For three days they had lost hope and saw no way to regain it. Jesus’ appearing gave them hope even if they did not believe it was real. “At least Jesus cares enough to come back as a Spirit and we get to say some final words, ask a question, or hear His plan for us.”
We again see the tender patience of our infinite God stepping into our finite world and the limits of our finite understanding. Jesus knew He was contradicting every law of logic and nature they knew. Knowing this He offered them proof, which is much more than he did for other doubters (Luke 11:29), because their disbelief was rooted in joy (“too good to be true”) not greed, rivalry, or jealousy.
Reflection: Think of moments when you experienced the “disbelief of joy” (i.e., birth of a child, proposing to your spouse, completion of a major project/dream). What was going on in that moment? How were you relating to the events/people around you? What did that reveal about your heart? Using that reflection contrast this response of Jesus to unbelief as compared to other instances.
Reading Scripture with Open Minds
Too often we read passages of Scripture as disjointed stories, concepts, moral lessons, or principles. Chapter and verse divisions don’t help with that. The great variety in authors, time period, genre, and audience also contribute to this tendency. Luke 24:44-49 makes it clear that the Bible is one Grand Story.
Evidently the disciples were a lot like us, they needed to see the unity of the Bible and that the unifying person was Jesus and the unifying event was His death and resurrection. Yet, if we are honest, this is not always easy to see. When reading Old Testament narrative, Proverbs, or the practical instruction of James, how do we tie it to Jesus?
The following questions are meant to help you read Scripture with Jesus as the interpretive center. Not all questions will work well with all passages, but hopefully one or more of these questions will be relevant to the passage you are studying.
- What virtue is this passage holding up that I could never fulfill in my own strength?
- What theme of hope or redemption would be incomplete without Christ’s death and resurrection?
- (Old Testament) Where does this passage occur in redemptive history and how does it set the stage for understanding Christ’s death and resurrection?
- What is the pastoral objective of the author for his audience and how does this reveal the character and activity of Christ?
- How does the life of Jesus make it easier to understand this passage?
- How would the original recipient have been caused to look forward to the coming Messiah or respond in praise to the life of Christ?
- How does the perspective of this passage challenge me to be like Christ?
An open mind does not mean a willingness to accept any interpretation of a passage. It means that we always remember to look for Christ and the Gospel message in every passage. Hopefully these questions equip you for that treasure hunt.
Introduction to the “Living Our Faith” series.