But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
Easter makes an eternal difference and everywhere we look in the Easter accounts we see how His resurrection changes people and changes things for those people.
In our first in this series we’ll consider the women.
These women had shared in supporting the ministry of Jesus.
Joanna was among the first women to discover the empty tomb (Luke 24:10). She was the wife of Chuza, the household manager or steward of King Herod Antipas (Luke 8:3).
Who else was there?
Mary Magdalene was there. Mary was a Galilean woman whom Jesus had delivered from seven demons. (Luke 8:2; Mark 16:9). Mary the mother of James and Joses was there. So were Mary the wife of Clopas and Solome the mother of James and John.
And of course, Mary the Mother of Jesus was there too.
We don’t know a lot about most of these women. But we do know that they had been supporters of the ministry of Jesus. We do know that their hopes were bound up in Jesus. We do know that they were on the way to the tomb that Sunday morning because they expected to care for the dead body of this Jesus whom they loved.
But the resurrection of Jesus changed these women and it changed their circumstances.
“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
The women were looking for a dead body to show love to a friend, but they instead discovered that their friend was risen. And with His rising, their hope is restored.
These women were learning what Christians throughout the ages have learned: The resurrection of Jesus changes death itself.
For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. –1 Thessalonians 4:14-16
When the women approached the tomb they expected to find the dead body of Jesus. Death, they thought, was undefeated. But instead they found that this time death itself had been defeated. Jesus was victorious.
The women would learn the truth of what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4, that the resurrection of Jesus means that not only has He conquered death, He has conquered death for us!
So now, death itself was changed for the women. And it is changed for us.
When we attend a Christian funeral, we’re attending a ceremony of mourning, but also of hope. Because just as certainly as Jesus is risen, so too will those who died trusting in Him rise to life everlasting.
- What types of interactions had the women had with Jesus prior to His death and resurrection?
- Why would the women have expected to find the dead body of Jesus in the tomb?
- Each of the women had a unique relationship with Jesus. Do you think the resurrection of Jesus had a unique impact on them? In what ways might the resurrection have had a similar impact for all of the women?
- Have you ever walked through a church cemetery? Imagine the impact Jesus had on each of those buried in that cemetery and then remember that they will be raised from death to life.
Can you imagine being in a church cemetery on the day of Christ’s return when the resurrection occurs?
- What are some ways the resurrection impacts how we view death for Christians?
Heavenly Father, there is death all around us in the world. Remind us that our hope doesn’t depend on things that are fleeting, but on Jesus. Help change our perspective so that we may live as people who have hope through salvation. In the name of our risen Jesus, Amen.