By Rick Elsey
Pastor, West End Baptist Church, Columbia
Focal Passage: Luke 24:1-12
How many times have you been let down in your life? Someone made a promise or a commitment, and they did not follow through. How did that make you feel? Did it leave you angry, hurt or even disillusioned? You wonder if you can trust people to be faithful to their word. That is never an issue with the Lord. He is always faithful! Scripture is filled with evidence of this truth. The empty tomb remains one of the most vivid examples of God’s faithfulness.
Faithful despite our expectations, Luke 24:1-3. Everyone has experienced grief and sorrow over the loss of a loved one. I can only imagine what the followers of Jesus were experiencing as they watched the Messiah die a horrible death on the cross. They had such great expectations for the future and for God’s kingdom. How could a great celebration the previous Sunday go so wrong so fast? Now what would they do?
For several of the women who followed Jesus, the only thing left to do was honor Him by preparing the body with spices. As they went out that morning, they expected to find a tomb along with his body. They found the tomb but no body. At that point resurrection was not on their mind. They were emotionally overwhelmed by their circumstances and could not see beyond their grief. We rejoice in the fact that God’s faithfulness is not dependent upon our expectations. The tomb was empty because of God’s promise to us. He always keeps His promises.
Faithful despite our confusion, vv. 24:4-8. The Scriptures describe the women as perplexed in regard to the empty tomb. Perplexed conveys the idea of being at a loss, not knowing what to do or how to respond to a situation. In the midst of their confusion, they are confronted by two angels. The announcements of the angels are twofold: first they announce the great news that Christ has risen. The women would not find Him among the dead. Secondly, they reminded the women that Jesus had told them He would suffer, die and rise again on the third day. At the words of the angels the light bulb went off, and they remembered the words of Jesus.
Have you ever been accused of selective hearing? It is that disease of either not listening or only hearing what you want to hear. I believe many of Jesus’ followers suffered with this condition. Peter is a perfect example. When Jesus spoke of His coming death, Peter did not want to hear about Jesus dying. That was not a part of Peter’s plan. The death of Jesus left many confused, but the resurrection proves a valuable point. God always does what He says He will do despite our response or understanding.
Faithful despite our doubt vv. 9-12. After their encounter with the angels, the women went straight to the apostles to share with them all they had experienced at the tomb. The response of the apostles was less than overwhelming. They not only doubted the women’s words but dismissed them as nonsense. How could the closest followers of Jesus respond with so much doubt? Peter, however, rushed to the tomb and found it empty just as they had told him. He returned home, amazed yet unsure of what had taken place.
To this day, many doubt in the resurrection. The empty tomb reminds us that God is not bound by the unbelief of others. Jesus died, was buried and rose again. Salvation comes when doubt turns to faith in the one who is faithful. He is Risen! B&R — Elsey is pastor of West End Baptist Church, Columbia.