Lectionary Reflection for Easter

Luke BTCBThis excerpt comes from Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey, commenting on Luke 24:1-12:

The difficulty of conveying such a momentous thing as the resurrection verbally is instanced by Luke in his depiction of the women’s own immediate frustration, even as they become the first to proclaim the very essence of the good news.

Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and all the others have returned breathless to “the eleven” (24:9-10), yet their words seem to the grieving men as “idle tales” . . . . Thus, in sharing this most important news imaginable, the women are disbelieved and ignored (24:11).

These women are soon, of course, to be vindicated. Peter will be troubled and eventually leap up and run to the tomb to see for himself. John will record that he also, having been approached by Mary Magdalene, then runs toward the tomb, where he and Peter likewise find it empty (John 20:1-10) and that meanwhile, Mary Magdalene, having returned to the area to search, queries one she takes to be the gardener about the body of Jesus and discovers herself to be both seeing and speaking with the risen Lord (20:11-18).

So it is the women who first learn of the resurrection, and Mary Magdalene among them who first sees and speaks with the Lord before he has “risen to the Father.” There is just no getting around this, as Augustine says: “So in this fact we have to reflect on the goodness of the Lord’s arrangements, because this, of course, was the doing of the Lord Jesus Christ, that it should be the female sex which would be the first to report that he had risen again.”

Augustine goes on to emphasize this fact too, in the narrative symmetry reflected in Luke’s Gospel especially, that though “humanity fell through the female sex, humankind was restored through the female sex. A virgin gave birth to Christ; a woman proclaimed that he had risen again. Through a woman death; through a woman life. But the disciples didn’t believe what the women had said. They thought the women were raving, when in fact they were reporting the truth” (Sermon 232.2).

One persuasive indicator that we are dealing with facts as they happened is that the revelation comes first to women, so unconventional and imagination for this culture. This is both confirmed and reinforced by the other Gospel accounts.

So many “walls of partition” have been broken down by Jesus in his life and, now, after his death and in his resurrection. Think of it: not only is his resurrection made known first to the women, but he also reveals himself in his resurrection body first to a woman—and to a woman who is not his mother or a relative—something perhaps almost unthinkable in first-century Palestine.

One powerful theme to emerge in Luke’s Gospel is just this: Jesus is no respecter of persons. He does not conform to our social hierarchies and sorry prejudices.


©2012 by David Lyle Jeffrey. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.