Devotional: April 20, 2022
They left the tomb and broke the news of all this to the Eleven and the rest. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them kept telling these things to the apostles, but the apostles didn’t believe a word of it, thought they were making it all up.
But Peter jumped to his feet and ran to the tomb. He stooped to look in and saw a few grave clothes, that’s all. He walked away puzzled, shaking his head.
Luke 24: 9-12 The Message
The resurrection of our Lord Jesus is the greatest event in all of history. Yet this incredible story of hope, victory, and God’s power does not arrive at the same time to everyone. The women who came to the tomb early that morning are the first witnesses to the resurrection. Even though twelve men listened to, lived with, and learned from Jesus for three years as his disciples, it is the women who were the first witnesses to the greatest event concerning Jesus.
What can we learn from this episode, where the women tell the disciples about the empty tomb? There are many lessons, but I will focus upon three.
First, you can and should always tell the truth. Yet even when you do, someone may accuse you of lying. One of the most disappointing aspects of this part of the Easter story is the disbelief of the disciples. Jesus had told them multiple times about the need for His death and resurrection. Now, the women tell the disciples that it has happened. Unfortunately, the men do not listen. I imagine the women repeating the story, trying to convince the men. Yet at least initially, the wall of doubt from the men is unbroken, and insurmountable.
Second, sometimes we need to be persistent when telling an important story. The women didn’t give up easily. Or really, at all! They kept repeating the story. They knew and trusted what they had seen. An angel of the Lord had revealed this incredible truth, and the women knew it was now their responsibility to pass this truth on to the disciples. The story remained the same. From the women, we learn that our evangelism efforts ought to be persistent, and based on what we know. The reception of the story may not be received well, but we are not to give up. Let us persist, even if we are initially rejected, like the the women. Can you imagine if the apostles had not been at least curious enough to verify what the women were telling them?
Third, the goal of evangelism is to get people to encounter God for themselves. Eventually, Peter suspects that maybe there might be some truth behind the women’s tale. Therefore, he jumps up (did fiery Peter ever walk anywhere?!?), and checks out the empty tomb for himself. Sometimes, it is best to gently share the gospel, allowing people to absorb the message, but this was not one of those moments.
Our goal, when sharing the message of Christ, and of His abundant love and forgiveness, is to help someone take the first step towards faith. Reading some scripture, going to worship, offering a prayer, and even fellowshipping with Christians can often be opportunities any one of us can offer to others. For some people, sharing the gospel is uncomfortable, and awkward. St. Francis of Assisi once said; “Preach often, and when necessary, use words”. Our message of Christ's salvation can be shared first though our actions. We know that even the greatest journey begins with a single step. Like the women-evangelists, encourage someone to take that first step today!
God of resurrection hope,
Inspire me to share the good news about Your son Jesus with everyone, even those people who are like the disciples: initially skeptical. Forgive me when I walk away from opportunities to share the gospel. Grant me the courage to patiently tell the story, even as I demonstrate my walk with the Lord in my life every day. I pray this prayer in the name of Jesus, the Risen One! Amen.