Early this past Sunday morning I woke up to read the Biblical account of the resurrection. As I did, something jumped out at me as it hadn’t before.
Three women followers of Jesus went to the tomb and encountered a gathering of angels who announced: “He is not here, but has risen… just as He told you.”
And then, the Gospel account reads: “they remembered His words.”
They remembered His words? How in the world could they have forgotten them!
For someone to have seen Jesus Christ in the flesh, to have followed His earthly ministry, maybe even to have partaken of His many miracles, how on earth could they have forgotten the little part when He said, “Oh by the way, I’m gonna be put to death soon. But it’s okay, I’ll see y’all on Sunday.”
When Jesus later appeared to the gathering of disciples, they were terrified, almost as if they weren’t expecting Him to show up. Then the apostle Thomas had the unmitigated gall to say he didn’t believe in what the other disciples had told him. Again, almost as if he didn’t actually believe what Jesus had told him.
Now perhaps I am being a trifle too harsh on my dear departed saints in the Faith.
First, to delve into the linguistic construction of the aforementioned verses, it’s worth noting that the author(s) could very well be alluding to the fact that it wasn’t that they did not recall what He had said, but that they hadn’t truly understood.
After all, Jesus often spoke in parables that were largely symbolic. Not to mention the number of “rock stars” of the faith who have totally missed the point or stumbled into grave error.
Renowned theologian and scholar John Gill once wrote that even the most devout of Christ’s followers are sometimes apt to forget the gracious promises of God they have understood and received comfort. “Until the Spirit of God, who is their best remembrance, puts them in mind of them,” he added.
How easily I forget His words in my own humble existence, how easily do I speak and act as though I know nothing about Him!
In my conduct toward others, do I remember to “love one another as I have loved you” or do I seek first my own glory, before I remember the One to whom I owe all? Does my life bear the imprint of what Jesus lived and taught or, instead, does it testify to my own pride and vaunting ambition? Am I generous and hospitable toward those who He termed as “the least of these” or, instead, does my avoidance and covetousness betray me for the hypocrite I am?
To say “He is risen!” brings with it a host of implications on our lives.
Indeed it is to believe in a Lord whose power transcends such “simple” transitions as life and death. If this sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection does not directly impact us right where we stand, then we prove ourselves to be Christians in name only.
Sure as Christ spoke “it is finished” on the cross before giving up His spirit, His victory over death testifies that there is still more to the story… much more.
That the work of Christ in redeeming the world is not finished, but has only just begun.