The Fourth Eothinon Gospel brings us Luke’s account of the Resurrection. The “they” in the first verse refers to “the women” from Luke chapter 23 who ministered to Jesus at the cross and after He died. Unlike Matthew’s and Mark’s accounts, their number is not stated. In this account, the women find the stone rolled away, enter the tomb, and find it empty, and then are greeted by two men (not one as in Mark’s Gospel). The encounter with the young men/angels takes place after they have viewed the empty tomb.
Continuing in the passage, Luke qualifies that the women present include Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James and the other women. As in Mark’s Gospel, it is the women who share the news with the disciples and it is the disciples who dismiss the news as an idle tale, disbelieving what had happened.
Peter, to his credit, ran to the tomb to see for himself what had happened. He took the time to investigate. He, too, did not know what to make of what he had seen. As we know, Peter, despite his uncertainty, “stayed with the program” and became the leader of the early Christian Church.
These accounts of the Resurrection, while slightly different, confirm the truth, because of their slight differences. Police officers and detectives, when they investigate a crime, separate suspects. If the suspect accounts of what happened are identical, they know that they are concocted. If they are totally different, they know that someone is being untruthful. If they are similar, though not the same, they find them to be more truthful. The accounts of the Resurrection all confirm that women went to the tomb early in the morning and found it empty. They all reveal that an angel or young man (or two young men) were present at the tomb. And they all reveal a level of skepticism among the disciples.
In addition to giving to us the historical account of the Resurrection, they tell us our own story. How do we react to the good news of the Resurrection of Christ? Do we meet it with skepticism? With doubt? Do we run like Peter to confirm the message for ourselves? Are we still sitting at home, wondering what happened?
Peter’s reaction, metaphorically speaking, is something we should all do. We should all “run to the tomb”, meaning run to church, run to the Bible, run to prayer. We should discover the beauty of each, and we should go home and wonder what happened, in the sense of contemplating, reflecting, and learning the message.
Peter didn’t just sit home wondering what had happened. He put his faith in the Resurrection, and went out and became a leader in the Church. We are called to do the same. But we can’t lead with conviction if we haven’t first learned what it is we believe.
Peter didn’t believe the women, he ran to the tomb to see for himself. Don’t take my word for the faith. Investigate the faith for yourself. Reflect on what happened two thousand years ago. And then make a decision that this message will be a focal point for your life, as Peter made it for his.
It was early dawn when the women came to Your tomb, O Christ, but the body they desired was not found. Therefore, those in resplendent vesture standing by said to them: Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is risen as He foretold. Why do you not remember His words? Convinced by them, the women proclaimed what they had seen, but their good tidings seemed to be idle tales, so dulled were the disciples still. But Peter ran, and beheld and glorified within himself Your wonders. (Fourth Eothinon Doxastikon, Trans. by Holy Cross Seminary Press, 1991)
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