Here are the questions which came to my mind as I read this section:
Why did the women go so early to the tomb on Sunday morning?
Some see a problem here with the differences between the gospels, I don’t. All say the same thing. I guess the only possible problem is between Matthew and John where Matthew wrote “as the new day was dawning” while John wrote “while it was still dark”. But Matthew says the women went out to visit the tomb at that time. John says they came to the tomb at that time. Technically I suppose that is a problem. If it had been reversed it would sit better. But the time between still night and dawn could be described as either still dark or the day dawning. So it is not a great problem. More the question is why did they go so early? Which leads into the next question. These little differences in testimony are what homicide detectives look for to verify it is truly eye witness testimony and not collaboration as I have said before.
What is happening with the confusion over the anointing of Jesus’ body?
Just when was it done. Before the Sabbath started or after? Well the simple answer is both, before and after. The Jewish practice of anointing for burial happens over several days as applications of aromatic spices are added layer by layer. Because Jesus was buried just before the Sabbath began there was no time for the process to be finished when the women went with Joseph and Nicodemus. So clearly on the Sunday they go back to tomb very early in the morning to complete the job. You might ask why did they not go after 6.00 pm on the Saturday when Sabbath would be considered finished. Perhaps the matter of darkness in the tomb but perhaps also God didn’t want them to waste their spices knowing Jesus would rise from the dead.
The stone – how come Luke doesn’t mention it in concluding the preparation and entombment?
Yes it is true that Luke doesn’t mention the fact that a stone was rolled across the entrance to the tomb, as was usual. It is clear that this was the common practice so Luke doesn’t make mention of a fact that is assumed. But he does make sure he tells us that it was rolled away. Mark records that it was a major issue for the women on their way to the tomb. They knew the stone had been rolled across the entrance. The stone was a huge one and not to be shifted by the women. They say, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But of course when they got there it was already taken care of.
Was the angel really an angel or just a man they mistook for an angel? And just how many were there? One, two or many?
- For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow.
- a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side.
- two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.
The question related to the angel/angels is the one I referred to in the last Gem that is a classic used by doubters to question the veracity of the Bible. “Now come on was there one angel or were there two angels? If these disciples and gospel writers can’t get a simple fact like that correct, why should we believe the rest of what they say?” Well, first of all consider what it would be like to see an angel, shining forth the glory of God. The text doesn’t actually say there was only one angel. It is also highly likely that only the one who was talking was given the prominence. Matthew says it was one angel who rolled the stone away. Mark adds an angel close to or inside the entrance to the tomb. Luke adds the two angels standing by the women. John adds two angels who spoke to Mary Magdalene a little later. I think there were likely angels all around, after all it was a significant event. And do you think you could distinguish between all these angels and determine if it was one, two or many? I don’t think I could. Two out of the three gospels refer to the dazzling or appearance of lightning when referring to the clothing. Matthew also adds white as snow. Have you seen snow when the sun is reflecting on it? It is dazzling. Likely as not that is the point of comparison that is being made by Matthew when he likens the clothing to lightning. It’s the dazzling nature of the flash not the momentary nature of it in focus here. The being the case I defy you to work out just how many angels you are seeing. I think all of us would be left wondering just what it was we had seen and how many there were. Mark however records that it was a young man sitting on the right side of the entrance to the tomb. It seemed like he was clearly seen, enough to determine he was a young male angel. So was he human or angel? In biblical terms angels are often recognised by their shining clothes or bodies. I think there is little doubt he was angel.
Why was it the women who were first humans to find the Lord’s body had gone after the resurrection? (and also to see Him after the resurrection)?
I think it is highly significant that the women are the ones who are used of God to carry the news of Jesus resurrection to the disciples. It significant too that Mary is the one to whom He appears first and then she runs to tell the others. Remember the comment Jesus made when Mary anointed Him for burial some time back in the story. It is like this revelation, this glimpse she had of who He was and what would happen back then would rewarded now.
How could they see if His body was there or not? Wasn’t it dark in the tomb at that time?
We have been told already that it was dark, or just after dawn. While it may have been possible to see a little outside the tomb, it is for sure that in the tomb itself it would have been hard to see anything. Did these woman really have a mummy’s look? Maybe they just assumed He wasn’t there and didn’t look properly because they couldn’t see too well. That was a comment I remember from a person who told me that theory after a God’s Awesome Book seminar in New Zealand once. No, stop and think about it. These woman knew exactly where His body was laid. Luke 23:55 tells us. As His body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where His body was placed. That doesn’t mean however that they say where His body was in the tomb necessarily. Remember the women were at a distance. They certainly knew which tomb but not necessarily where in the tomb. The angel helps in that regard by pointing out to them where indeed the body had lain. “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid His body.” There was clearly nothing there. Later on we will see what happens and what conclusions are drawn when the disciples see the place where the body was lain and see the grave clothes. What they see when it is much lighter in the morning is telling.
Why were the women terrified? Why were they not overjoyed?
They ought to have been overjoyed that the Lord was alive again but instead they are “terrified”. The word [emphobos] means afraid, terrified, frightened, startled. The construction is one which indicates fear setting in and remaining with them such that they are afraid to look up. Mark tells us they were trembling and bewildered and too afraid to tell anyone. When you take in all the circumstances I think we all would have a similar reaction. The notion of him rising from the dead was certainly one that was not in their thinking even though He had told them it would happen. I will discuss that issue tomorrow as to why they didn’t automatically connect the resurrection to Jesus’ comments about the Son of Man rising on the third day. But for the moment it is safe for us to assume that their emotions would have been in turmoil. They have lost the One they loved and considered to be their Messiah. Now His body is gone and they are left to take stock of it all. We will see what happens as the story progresses.
A further issue is what exactly was it the angel(s) said? As its a bigger topic and connected with the fact they didn’t connect what Jesus had said to the events that have now unfolded, it will therefore take some time to unwrap, so I won’t press on to cover these elements in this Gem. Continuing story in the next Gem. I have been told by some of the students in the new Deeper Bible first level class that the Gems (English and Indonesian) I send are long and hard to fit into their Quiet Time. I am aware of that but also want to finish Luke and Acts before the end of this century.
Get yourself right before you lead others into the same mistakes.Anon
Never judge someone by the opinion of another!Anon
Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.Albert Einstein
No man ever sank under a day’s burden. It’s when tomorrow’s burdens are added to today’s burden that the weight is more than a man can bear.Leticia Seviraneta