The women started early because they wanted time to cherish the memory of Jesus, who had died two days earlier. Their journey to the tomb was motivated by love, but it was absolutely devoid of faith. Whatever faith they had in Christ had been overwhelmed by the darkness of Calvary. Faith was gone; all that was left was love.
Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James (Luke 24:10) were part of a group who traveled with Jesus and the twelve disciples. They had heard Christ speaking about what would happen on the third day after His death, but it is clear that on this first day of the week, they did not expect anything unusual to happen.
Many people have a deep affection for Christ, but find it hard to believe. At one time they were drawn to Christ and began to follow Him, but then they experienced great darkness in a personal tragedy or in some evil that was done, and somewhere in the darkness they stopped believing.
When the women arrived, they found that the rock in front of the tomb had been moved. When they went inside, they found that the tomb was empty. The women had absolutely no idea what to make of this. The empty tomb left them “wondering” (v. 4).
It is important to notice that they did not immediately jump to the conclusion that Jesus had risen from the dead. The first visitors to the empty tomb were quite lost for an explanation.
“Christian faith rests on believing God’s explanation of what He has done.”
When they found the body was missing, Mary did not say, “I have a feeling that He must have risen from the dead,” and Joanna did not reply, “You know, I have that feeling too. I think you must be right.” The thought did not even occur to them.
So how did they know what happened? God told them.
While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them . . . The men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” (verses 4–6)
God called two angels and said, “Go and tell them what I have done. These women love My Son, but there is no way in the world that they are ever going to work out what happened. Go tell them.”
Christian faith rests on believing God’s explanation of what He has done.
When the Virgin Mary conceived a child, there was no way that she could have known what was happening to her. So God sent the angel to explain.
It was the same with the shepherds and the wise men. How could they possibly have known that the child in a manger was God in human flesh? Without God’s explanation through the angels and the star, they would never have known what was happening.
It was the same when Jesus was crucified. Many people saw Him die, but few understood the significance of the Cross. God tells us that on a cross, Christ bore our sin, endured our punishment, and laid His life down as a sacrifice.
The women would never have worked out what had happened for themselves. God told them. Christian faith does not rest on feelings, impulses, or personal insights. It is believing God’s explanation of events, given to us in the Scripture.
 Matthew tells us that they were angels (Matthew 28:5); Luke tells us what they looked like.
by Colin S. Smith
If you’re just beginning to explore the rewards of Bible study, here is the perfect introduction! Colin S. Smith has drawn from all four...
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