April 16, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture—Luke 24:8-9 (NRSV)
Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.
I do not know what bemuses me the most about this story: that Jesus appears suddenly to startled disciples and declares “Peace be with you” or that he asks if anyone has anything to eat and they casually give him broiled fish? I like to use my spiritual imagination and imagine Jesus chomping down on some fish tacos with salsa verde, lime on the side, taking his time while his friends grasp the magnitude of his appearance.
Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women who had prepared spices and perfumes to care for the body of Jesus in yesterday’s devotional were now the women who could not find the body of Jesus at the same tomb where they had seen him laid. These women were not only faithful but liturgical. They had followed him throughout his years of ministry from Galilee. They continued to be faithful unto him even after his death. Death had not impeded their discipleship. They rested on the sabbath of his death and went to the market to purchase the spices for burial. However they did not expect to see two men in dazzling clothes ask them not to look for the living among the dead. Needless to say, it scared the living daylights out of them.
The angels reminded them: Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that he would be betrayed, crucified and raised again. It was all they could do to remember the spices in their grief; how could they remember what their spirits had heard?
Then they remembered his words.
To remember was the first step in their resurrection. To remember the words that had been told them by their greatest friend. After we have lost someone, we remember their words with more weight than ever before. But these words? These words always sounded altogether unbelievable. They may have encountered an empty tomb, but these had not been empty words.
And returning from the tomb.
After remembering comes the returning. Returning to the rest of the words. Returning to their bodies. Returning to their memories. Returning to look at that empty tomb one more time. Returning to the thin place of belief and unbelief. Wait—so he really meant that? Returning from somewhere is half the journey.
They told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.
After remembering and returning comes the re-telling. They retold what they remembered and what had been revealed. They re-membered with the grief-stricken: the eleven and all the rest. As bodies came together, excited words re-telling the encounter sounded too unbelievable. So much so that the rest thought this was an idle tale. How can we blame them? Denial is the first stage of grief.
May you find yourself in the company of those who remember, return and re-tell this story, over and over again, be it in times of great belief in a strong resurrection or times of dis-belief in slow or non-existent resurrections. May you return to Jesus’ words, time and time again, as the grounding force of all our fears. And may you return to the bodies who give witness to his with-ness, time and time again.
What are the words of Jesus that you need to be reminded of today?
Return to this story of resurrection with fresh eyes. What details have you forgotten? Where does the Spirit stop you? What catches your attention? What questions does it raise?
God who remembers us and never forgets us; God who sends us friends, strangers on the street, a familiar face; remind us of your living words today, the words that are living among what may seem dead within us. May we remember the words that you have spoken. May we return to the words that you are speaking today. May they awaken us in our dead places. May you open our eyes to empty tombs but not empty words from a living savior. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. A blog post on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: 3 Reasons Easter Matters for Your Work
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