“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Luke 24:5c NRSV
It Can Be So Hard to Hear
Jesus spoke, people heard but no one seemed to grasp the meaning. Stress creates a gap between the words we hear and the meaning we grasp. But that simple truth struck me with great force this year. Easter is for us too in our humanness, even when it is hard to hear.
Jesus told the women that he would give them the “sign of Jonah.” On the “Third Day” he would rise from the dead. But they did not grasp the meaning. So on the third day, the women went to the tomb fully expecting to find a body. Arriving there, they discovered he was not home. Just like he said, “I will give you the sign of Jonah.” It was the third day. He was gone.
A young man in shining cloths, or perhaps both of them at the same time said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Great question.
Once the Women Got It, the Men Did no Better:
When the reality sank in they were excited and returned to the Eleven. The Eleven had heard Jesus say the same thing. They did no better.
“But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” Luke 24:11 NRSV
Yep, frightened, sorrowful and discouraged like the women, the Eleven suffered hearing loss. Words in, heard, dismissed. As I have written elsewhere, meditation keeps us from losing our lives to distraction. With practice meditation can also keep us from losing what we know when frightened. That is a huge advantage and the Eleven needed that advantage to face the days ahead.
What Struck Me, Though, Was Just How Very Human This Is:
When I read the Easter Story I sometimes feel very strongly that I don’t deserve the sort of sacrifice Jesus made. You might deserve it, but I don’t. Well, actually neither does Mary Magdalene turning up with her jar of spices and fog of grief and terror. But she and Joanna and Mary the mother of John and the others were also very sweet and clearly devoted. But they did not deserve Jesus’ gift. And it took two angels, several minutes, each other’s encouragement and a clearly empty tomb with grave clothes laying they neatly folded up before they heard. They were not some sort or spiritual heros. They were ordinary grieving, frightened people. Kind of like us, actually.
I Really Appreciate Their Honesty.
They could have cleaned up the story, you know. They could have presented themselves to us as being a bit more trusting, a bit less dense. But that would have been a problem, I think. When frightened or suffering a great loss, I am slow to hear, dense, preoccupied myself. Everyone I have shared an intense moment with has had the same reaction. Words sit on top of our head. Our hearts are preoccupied, are full. Jesus loves Mary and the others in their ordinary grieving, frightened living. When distracted, grieving or frightened, Jesus loves us. The good news of Easter is for people like us. And that is good news indeed.