2012-04-10

Luke Easter Story

Today let’s look at “The Gospel According to Luke.” This time it’s a group of women. Luke doesn’t say exactly how many. The group includes Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, Joanna, and the rest of the women who were close followers of Jesus. As in Mark, there is mention of spices and ointments for preparing the body, but they can’t do that until Sunday, after the Sabbath. Also as in Mark, when they get to the tomb, it is already open.
“They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.’” (24: 2-5)
So far, it’s like Mark, only more populated. More women, and two men instead of one in dazzling clothes. The women are terrified, just as in Mark – and there’s no mention of that fear being mixed with joy as in Matthew.

Then the Luke story goes its own way. In Luke the women, perhaps because there are more of them and they are able to borrow courage from each other, rise above their fear. In Mark, they ran away and didn’t tell anybody, but in Luke:
“Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.” (24: 8-9)
In Mark, the women never tell the disciples. The Matthew and in John, the women tell the disciples and are instantly believed. There is no hint in Matthew or John that the disciples had any doubts about what the women say. But in Luke, we read:
“Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.” (24: 10-12)
Only Peter believes the women. He checks it out himself, but apparently he says nothing to the other ten. The other “men refused to believe the story until two of the men happened to be walking to another village, and suddenly there is Jesus walking along with them, except they don’t recognize him. They get into this long conversation with Jesus, and finally Jesus says, Hey guys, you idiots, it’s me. Finally, the men believe, and they go back and tell the other men, who finally believe what the women have told them.” (Dan Harper)

The Luke story has no sense of the ongoing repression that was so prominent in Mark and was, to a lesser extent, present in Matthew. It was politically dangerous to be a follower of Jesus, but you couldn’t tell that from Luke. What you can tell in Luke, is that the women understood, and the men were slow on the uptake.

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Part 3 of "What's the Meadow For?
Next: Part 4: "John's Easter Story. And Yours."
Previous: Part 2: "Mark and Matthew Easter Stories"
Begginning: Part 1: "Easter Stories"