Luke 24:1-12 First Witnesses Of The Resurrection.

The resurrection of Christ was an event firmly ensconced in the historical record. Luke begins this record by stating the specific day on which what follows occurred-“on the first day of the week” (v. 1a Cf. Mt. 28:1; Mk. 16:1-2; Jn. 20:1a). Furthermore, there was a specific group of women who were visiting the tomb expecting to find Jesus’ body (23:55-24:1 Cf. Mt. 28:1; Mk. 16:1; Jn. 20:1). However, what actually happened was not what any were expecting. They had prepared spices which they wanted to place on Jesus’ dead body, which they were not able to do earlier (v. 1b Cf. 23:56). “But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb” (v. 2 Cf. Jn. 20:1b). Matthew records that it was the angel who would speak to them, who rolled away the stone (28:2). So instead of worrying about how they would roll the stone away so they might enter the tomb, as Mark records (16:3-4), “they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus” (v. 3).

This caused them to be perplexed, but before they could think of what they would do next, “two men stood by them in shinning garments” (v. 4 Cf. Jn. 20:11-13). Two men appearing may not have been odd, but their shinning garments would have been. So now they were both perplexed and afraid. They certainly knew they were in the presence of no ordinary men for they “bowed their faces to the earth” (v. 5). It is interesting that there is not just one of them, though Mark and Matthew note one speaking (16:5-7 Cf. Mt. 28:2-7). These angels are simply the first among many witnesses to testify to the resurrection of Christ. They pointed out to the women the stark contrast both of their expectation and of the place where they stood. The women were expecting to find a dead body at the place of burial, and instead they find an empty tomb, and angels testifying to them that their Lord had risen.

It is also interesting to note that the angel asked the women to remember what Jesus Himself had said to them. “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (v. 7 Cf. 9:22, 44; 18:31-33). Then we read that “they remembered His words” (v. 8), and it was more than simply recalling that He said this, but it led them to proclaim the reality to “the eleven and the rest” (v. 9 Cf. Jn. 2:19-22). Luke leaves out of his account what we find in Matthew, Mark, and John, namely that these women had an encounter with the risen Lord before they arrived at the disciples (Mt. 28:9-10; Mk. 16:9-10; Jn. 20:14-18). This also went into their confidence, but it began with the word preached to them at the tomb (vv. 8-10 Cf. Mt. 28:8). However, the disciples did not believe the women (v. 11), but Peter ran to the tomb, and seeing it empty and the linen clothes lying by themselves, he marvelled (v. 12).

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