Luke 24:11. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
Have you ever witnessed something that was so phenomenal, so astounding, and yet so confounding, that it seemed almost impossible to put it into words, to sound plausible? Years ago, a friend and very devout Christian was diagnosed with a rare and fatal abdominal tumor. The prognosis was dire; surgery would only slow the progression. She gathered the best medical opinions and had a highly respected surgical team assembled. While all the preparations were underway, prayers from around the country were unceasing. A healing service with anointing and laying on of hands, and regular visits with her priest right up to the night before surgery, brought her comfort and allowed her to lean deeply into the love of God. She felt Jesus with her and was fully prepared for God’s path to unfold. Midway through the surgery, the doctor came out to announce to her family that there was no evidence of the tumor. What had been very visible on CT scans and an MRI was inexplicably gone. The surgeons couldn’t believe what they had seen. They were mystified; her friends and family overjoyed. Whatever could explain this? Not medicine or science, not logic; only profound faith in Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the power of healing prayer.
That’s how it must have been for Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the wife of James, and the others who came very early in the morning to prepare Jesus for burial. They faithfully stood witness to His agony at the foot of the cross and now, were given ultimate witness to His miraculous resurrection in the empty tomb. Yet, despite the angel’s pronouncement that He was risen (as Jesus foretold in Galilee), the women were terrified and bewildered. Whatever could explain this? Yet, once they remembered Jesus’ words, they were able to go and tell the disciples what they had seen. The news of the empty tomb, the risen Christ, the fulfillment of Jesus’ own prophesy was so phenomenal, so astounding and so confounding that these words seemed implausible, if not downright crazy. Only Peter got up and ran to the tomb to see for himself but also returned perplexed. True hope and healing through God’s love in action abounds - in upending what we expected, what we believed or understood to be true, and replaces it with the Good News of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord. This is the stunning Easter surprise and one that is hard to put into words.