Advent Angels Sightings #2

Please read Luke 1:5-25 in your favorite Bible.

Advent Angel Sightings 1_final (1)

(Image by James Best, (C) 2019, https://www.behance.net/gallery/82544295/Sermon-Illustrations-2019.)

There’s at least one thing very wrong with the mythology of Santa Claus. “According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer each year, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December.
“Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in the spring. Therefore, according to EVERY picture depicting Santa’s reindeer in late December, EVERY single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, has to be a girl.
“We should have known… ONLY women would be able to drag a fat man in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night and not get lost.”

https://www.favecrafts.com/Entertaining/A-Great-Bunch-of-Funny-Christmas-Stories

It’s strange that so many people make such a fuss about a mythical figure like Santa and neglect the historical person of Jesus Christ.  The gospel writer Luke was concerned with writing an accurate historical account of the life of Jesus.  To cover the subject as thoroughly as possible, he began with the miraculous circumstances surrounding the birth of the man who would introduce Jesus to the world as the Messiah; John the Baptist.  Our second advent angel sighting involves that moment of history.

CONTEXT: What we learn about Zechariah (5-11).  NT Professor Brittany E. Wilson has found in Luke a portrayal of Zechariah as an ordinary man suddenly caught up in a historic situation.  Perhaps you can imagine his disorientation.  Wilson identifies three markers in the text.

1 = His ethnicity.  Zechariah was a Jew.  In the Roman Empire, all conquered peoples were second-class citizens, but Jews were the butt of additional ridicule.

2 = His vocation. While priesthood normally earned a man some respect, Zechariah lived in the hills of Judea, not the city of Jerusalem, so the circle of respect was smaller, his service in the temple far less frequent.  Also, as v. 5 reports, Zechariah could trace his ancestry only to Abijah, while his wife could go all the way back to Aaron, Moses’ brother and the founder of the priestly line.  She had the better pedigree!

3 = His age and impotence.  Much has been said over the years about the scorn a barren woman had to endure in this culture.  But the husband did not escape unscathed.  Childlessness could be as demeaning a status for the husband as it was for the wife.

We balance these three observations against v. 6, where Luke identified both Zechariah and Elizabeth as UPRIGHT as the both kept God’s commands BLAMELESSLY.  Human nature has not changed in 2000 years, so we can assume that in Zechariah’s time as today, the UPRIGHT and blameless people tend to be overlooked.  The “squeaky wheels” tend to attract attention.  Also, God’s choice of Zechariah to occupy this historic place in His plan is foreshadowed by his selection by lot to offer incense in the temple.

Most of us ought to be able to identify with Zechariah.  He was an ordinary guy – why should he be visited by angel?  Being chosen to offer the incense was akin to winning the lottery; Zechariah’s focus was on that when he was blind-sided by an angelic visitation.

God’s messages demand a faithful – not doubtful – response.

  1. Zechariah’s response was doubtful.

As is always the case in these biblical angelic accounts, Zechariah’s initial reaction to Gabriel’s visitation was surprise and fear (11-13).  And, as always, the angel says, “DO NOT BE AFRAID,” but goes on to announce something surprising and fear-inducing (13-17)!

At this point, Zechariah had a decision to make: would he accept the angel’s message or would he believe and accept Gabriel’s message or doubt and reject it? (18) Using Zechariah as an example, let’s examine the continuum of belief.

– At the right end of the spectrum, we have BELIEF is intellectual agreement with and full obedience to the message of God.

– In the middle, we have DOUBT.  Doubt is an intellectual struggle with the message of God.  Doubt by itself is not bad, but if the struggle is either never resolved or is resolved with unbelief, it becomes a sin.

– UNBELIEF is at the left end of the continuum.  Unbelief is an active rejection of God’s message.  Believers can occasionally be guilty or mistakenly fall into unbelief, but are not characterized by it.  When it becomes chronic, settling into a character flaw, unbelief is the worst sin, the unforgivable sin (see Matthew 12:31 and Mark 3:29).

Zechariah’s response was a temporary form of the third option; an ill-considered decision to not believe Gabriel’s testimony.  It was an objection in the form of a question.  Otherwise the disciplinary act of rendering him mute is inappropriate; it’s too harsh.  Most convincingly, Gabriel himself condemns Gabriel’s unbelief in verse twenty.

Zechariah’s punishment is unique in this situation.  In the Bible there are five other birth announcements similar to this one.  In none of those cases, is objection met with divine discipline.

– In Genesis, the birth of a son is promised Abraham and he objected twice.

– In Judges, a son is promised to Samson’s father – Manoah – and he objected twice.

– In Luke, both Zechariah and Mary object to the birth announcements they received.

– In Matthew, Joseph did not argue with the angel who told him about Jesus.

Abraham, Manoah, and Mary were not punished for their objections or questions, yet Zechariah was.  Since God knows our hearts, we have to assume what is unstated in the text: Zechariah chose unbelief.

  1. Gabriel countered with discipline.

Gabriel pulled rank on Zechariah (19). “I AM GABRIEL,” he said.  As he was a priest, we can assume Zechariah’s familiarity with what we call the Old Testament.  He must have known the name Gabriel and its significance in Daniel (see last Sunday).  In fact, there are several parallels between Zechariah’s experience and Daniel’s.

He continued, “I STAND IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD.”  This statement implies a place of honor and high rank among the heavenly race of angels.

“I HAVE BEEN SENT TO SPEAK TO YOU AND TELL YOU THIS GOOD NEWS.”  There are a couple implications in this clause.  First, Gabriel informs Zechariah that God personally sent him with this message.  Second, the message is GOOD NEWS, not bad news.  Gabriel could have said, “Hey dummy!  I just told you some good news!  Why do you want to argue with me?”  In fact, as Gabriel said in v. 13, this GOOD NEWS came as an answer to Zechariah’s prayers.  Why pray for something and then disbelieve it when it arrives?  We would never do that, right?

Gabriel administered a punishment to fit the crime: Zechariah was struck mute, unable to announce the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to him (20).    Gabriel specifically identified Zechariah’s sin as unbelief = “YOU DID NOT BELIEVE MY WORDS.”  To paraphrase, Gabriel said, “You did not believe my words so you forfeit the power to use words.”

In that culture as well as in ours, words are power.  The ability to speak to a situation, to make an announcement, to express an opinion, is a kind of power.  So the punishment of Zechariah is a kind of disempowering him.  The Greek word for mute can also mean deaf.  It is possible Zechariah could neither hear nor speak.  If so, this is a great Scripture passage for ASL interpreters like our Melanie!

God did everything Gabriel announced he would do (20-25), proving yet again God’s trustworthiness.  In verse twenty, Gabriel predicted, “WHICH WILL COME TRUE AT THE PROPER TIME.”  This is in reference to Zechariah’s loss of speech continuing until the birth of his son John.

There were witnesses of Zechariah’s speechlessness.  The same group of worshipers mentioned in verse ten were still there in verses 21+22.  They were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the temple and pronounce the customary blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26.  When he finally emerged from the temple, he was unable to speak and could not pronounce the blessing.  Zechariah’s punishment for unbelief was to be unable to announce Gabriel’s good news and to be unable to perform his priestly duty, a double whammy!  Notice how Luke really emphasized Zechariah’s being muted: HE REMAINED UNABLE TO SPEAK (verse 22).  Relying on impromptu sign language, Zechariah was somehow able to communicate to the people he had received a vision.

In verses 23-25 we see Gabriel’s prediction COME TRUE, just as he said.  Zechariah’s wife Elizabeth became the speaker for the family and she praised God for showing favor to her.

God’s messages demand a faithful – not doubtful – response.

          A new truth we learn about angels in this passage is that God deputizes them to dispense justice on His behalf.  Gabriel presented his GOOD NEWS to Zechariah and when the priest responded with unbelief, Gabriel dispensed a punishment in the form of making Zechariah mute.  So angels are more than just messengers, they appear at the authority of God Himself and wield that authority in human affairs.

A new truth we learn about God in this passage is that our obedience is not required to advance his plan.  Zechariah’s moment of disbelief did not cause God to stop, throw up His hands and say, “Well NOW what do I do?”  No, Gabriel immediately informed Zechariah the will of God was going to be accomplished.

The new truth we learn about ourselves in this passage is that belief ought to be an all or nothing proposition, but we try to pick and choose what we want to believe.  Consider this; Luke identified both Zechariah and Elizabeth as faithful people, even blameless in their obedience to God’s law.  And yet, Zechariah chose to disbelieve Gabriel’s promise of a son born to him in his old age.  Zechariah was guilty of sin by thinking he could pick and choose between God’s messages which he would believe and which he would not.  His punishment fit his crime and serves as a warning to all of us not to follow his example.

None of us knows why Zechariah chose unbelief in this situation, but the text makes it abundantly clear that’s exactly what he did.  Similarly, we sin when we think it’s up to us as individuals to decide which parts of God’s will we want to accept or reject.  That kind of nonsense thinking is what our culture teaches.  The Bible teaches that God is truth and truth is available for discovery, but not for us to determine it.  Zechariah became right with God and regained his ability to speak just as Gabriel had predicted.

 

Resources:

Unmanly Men: Refigurations of Masculinity in Luke-Acts, Brittany E. Wilson

Word Biblical Commentary #35a, Luke 1-9:20, John Nolland

Belief, A Theological Commentary on the Bible, Luke, Justo L. Gonzalez

A Saintly Stepfather

(Please read Matthew 1:18-25 in your favorite Bible.  I have used the NIV as a basis for these remarks.)
There was the little boy who approached Santa in a department store with a long list of requests. He wanted a bicycle and a sled, a chemical set, a cowboy suit, a set of trains, a baseball glove and roller skates.
“That’s a pretty long list,” Santa said sternly. “I’ll have to check in my book and see if you were a good boy.”
“No, no,” the youngster said quickly. “Never mind checking. I’ll just take the roller skates.”
A less materialistic little fellow came closer to the real meaning of Christmas. A store owner was doing some last minute Christmas shopping with his young son when he saw another store owner with whom he had been friends for some time. The two of them exchanged greetings and spoke with each other about what a financially profitable season it had been for their respective stores. The small boy overheard his father say, “This has been the best Christmas ever.”
As the store owners parted company, the father and son continued their shopping, but the father noticed his son had become very quiet. He inquired as to his son’s silence, and his son replied, “Dad, you just told Mr. Johnson that this was the best Christmas ever.”
His dad replied, “I did, son. The economy is great, and people are really spending.”
“O.K.” the son replied, “It’s just that I always thought the first Christmas was the best one.”
<Retrieved from http://www.tonycooke.org/holiday-resources/christmas_illustrations/ on 12/2/16.>
More than any other holy day, Christmas has been co-opted by our culture, turning it into something irrelevant to the event itself. We know from church history that the church took Dec. 25th away from the pagans who were celebrating the winter solstice. Now it seems they want their
holiday back.
The important thing to we who believe is keeping our perspective in order. At Christmas, we celebrate one of God’s signature events. He became one of us. Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man at the same time is a fact that taxes our knowledge and our imagination, but is wholly necessary for a saving faith.
Whatever reason others may have to observe Christmas in their own way, ours is to look to the Incarnation, the in-boy revelation of God, and rejoice that He came. This is why we return to the biblical texts year after year, reaffirming the faith we have received as a heritage and work to pass along as a legacy.
Last Sunday we looked at the family tree of Jesus. There we saw an important if neglected figure in our history of faith, a man named Zerubbabel. He set an example of perseverance and devotion to doing the will of God that we would do well to follow.
Which leads us to today. At the top of that family tree we found the name Joseph. Joseph, we should observe, was NOT the biological father of Jesus. While Matthew includes Jesus at the very top of Joseph’s family tree, this is not for the usual reason. It is not a relationship of blood that bound Jesus to Joseph.
As we shall see, God is the Father of Jesus. One of the persons of the Trinity would, from Jesus’ birthday forward, be known as “God the Son” because he accepted a human body that God the Holy Spirit made for Him in cooperation with a brave little lady named Mary.
Out of convenience and respect we refer to Joseph as Jesus’ “father,” but it would be more accurate to say that he was Jesus’ “stepfather” or “adoptive father.” I do not make this point to take anything away from Joseph. He too is a great man of faith who sets an example for us to follow.
1. Joseph made a wrong but kind decision (1:18-19).
It was a wrong decision because he did not know the true means of Mary’s pregnancy. Verse eighteen clearly tells the reader the cause of Mary’s pregnancy: THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT. Since he believed that Mary’s pregnancy was disgraceful, Joseph decided to DIVORCE her.
It was kind decision because he did not want to expose Mary to disgrace or harm. Joseph writhed on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, he was FAITHFUL TO THE LAW. The Law had a very strict penalty for adultery; death by stoning (see Leviticus 20:10). On the other hand, Joseph wished to spare Mary of both kinds of suffering if he could. If he extended her mercy, that outcome could be avoided. However, there was still the court of public opinion and the DISGRACE Mary would face in the community.
Joseph resolved his dilemma by his decision to keep the DIVORCE and its cause quiet. He wanted to keep Mary and her pregnancy out of the public eye as much as possible. In this instance, Joseph is an example of the classic struggle between law and grace, between holiness and love. Knowing how to balance these sometimes complimentary virtues is one essence of wisdom.
2. God’s messenger changed Joseph’s mind (1:20-21).
The word “angel” literally means “messenger.” The ANGEL OF THE LORD APPEARED TO JOSEPH IN A DREAM to deliver God’s message about the truth behind Mary’s pregnancy.
Let’s note the specifics of the message.
The angel addresses him as JOSEPH, SON OF DAVID. Especially in Matthew’s Gospel, it is essential to note that Jesus came as the fulfillment of God’s promises in the Old Testament to send a Messiah. One aspect of the Messiah is that he would continue the dynasty of David, being one of His descendants. We looked into this last week. Though Joseph is not Jesus’ father, it is still important that he be a descendant of David, and that fact is affirmed again by the angel.
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO TAKE MARY HOME AS YOUR WIFE. Of what was Joseph AFRAID? Based on the context, we can assume he was afraid of violating the Law. He may have also feared public ridicule or retribution.
This statement is puzzling if we don’t understand that culture’s wedding traditions. When the marriage was arranged and agreed-upon, the couple was considered to be married in every way until the wedding day. Then the wedding was held and the union consummated for the first time. What looks to us as an “engagement” is a different relationship in their culture. In this case, as Mary’s “reputation” was already under suspicion, Joseph was told to move up the wedding date and immediately include Mary in the home he had made for the two of them.
WHAT IS CONCEIVED IN HER IS FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT. Mary was not, as everyone assumed, guilty of adultery. She had not cheated on Joseph. Just the opposite; she had been faithful to both Joseph and God. The truth of the matter was that her pregnancy was a miraculous act of God.
SHE WILL GIVE BIRTH TO A SON…YOU ARE TO GIVE HIM THE NAME JESUS…HE WILL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS. HIS PEOPLE are the Jews. Jesus’ own description of His mission was to the nation of Israel first.
FROM THEIR SINS = Jesus came to save people. Sin leads to death. The sacrifice of blood is God’s cure for the problem of sin and Jesus’ blood would be shed for that purpose.
3. Interlude: explaining prophecy (1:22-23).
As we’ve observed, Matthew is very concerned about Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy, so, no surprise that 22 verses into his Gospel, we have the first citation of fulfilled prophecy. This is not part of the angel’s message, it’s an aside delivered by Matthew. Let’s note the specifics.
THE VIRGIN WILL CONCEIVE AND GIVE BIRTH. This is obviously a supernatural, miraculous occurrence. Both Matthew and Luke go to lengths (as we’ll see in v. 25) to let us know Mary’s pregnancy was this miracle.
To be clear – the conception of Jesus was supernatural; a miracle. The birth of Jesus was completely natural and typical. Mary shared the experience of every mother from Eve onward.
SHE WILL…GIVE BIRTH TO A SON, just as the angel predicted to Joseph in v. 21. As we see later in the passage, this is exactly what came to pass.
THEY WILL CALL HIM IMMANUEL might, at first glance, seem contradictory with the angel’s instruction to Joseph to name Him Jesus. Note that THEY, not “you” will call Him Immanuel. This is a name others will bestow on Jesus. The meaning of this name or title is literally “God with us;” Jesus was God present in the flesh. What is more significant than the name itself is what it tells us about Jesus; He would be GOD WITH US.
4. Joseph completely obeyed God (1:24-25).
WHEN JOSEPH WOKE UP means he didn’t waste any time. Joseph was obedient in time and in the fullness of the angel’s instructions.
It’s my pet theory that the wedding date was moved up and perhaps it was observed without the usual fanfare and the customary week-long party. I speculate that it was early enough in Mary’s pregnancy that no one else knew about it and a quick wedding might mislead others into thinking Jesus was Joseph’s son.
This theory has only a little support in the Bible. In Matthew 13:55, when Jesus returned to Nazareth after beginning His ministry, the people of Nazareth remarked, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” If they had ever known about Mary’s pregnancy before consummating her relationship with Joseph, they forgot about it. I like to think that Joseph was such a kind-hearted man that he was willing to endure a slur on his character rather than let Mary take the heat for something she clearly had not done; be unfaithful to him.
Joseph is such a faithful man he took the command of God one step further and did not insist on his conjugal rights: HE DID NOT CONSUMMATE THEIR MARRIAGE UNTIL [after] SHE GAVE BIRTH TO A SON. This, of course, fulfilled the prophecy entirely, maintaining Mary’s virginity until the birth of Jesus. Also, Joseph followed through on all the angel’s instructions and GAVE [Mary’s son] THE NAME JESUS.
For all kinds of reasons, Christmas has occasionally been a tense, hotly contested holiday. One of the recurring stories is non-Christians complaining about how the holiday gives Christianity too much of the spotlight.
You may remember that our former governor Bill Janklow was not one to let complaints bother him too much. When criticized about having a nativity scene on display, Janklow prepared to let every religion put something on display in the Capitol, and even set aside an “empty corner” for the use of atheists.
Tony Cooke and David Beebe came up with a cute and insightful look at the conflicts of Christmas. They took a popular poem and wrote their own version of it. The titled it ‘Twas the Fight Before Christmas.
‘Twas the fight before Christmas,
And all through the house,
Not a creature was peaceful,
Not even my spouse.
The bills were strung out on our table with dread,
In hopes that our checkbook would not be in the red.
The children were fussing and throwing a fit,
When Billy came screaming and cried, “I’ve been bit.”
And Momma with her skillet, and I with the remote,
She said, “You change one more channel and I’ll grab your throat.”
When on the TV there arose such a clatter,
I sat up on the couch to see what was the matter.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
The cable was out, it was my worst fear.
“The Cowboys, the Celtics, the Raiders, the Knicks,
Without the sports channel I’d soon need a fix!”
And then in the midst of my grievous sorrow,
I remembered the times I had promised, “tomorrow…”
“Not now, my children, but at some soon time,
Dad will play with you, and things will be fine.”
Now under conviction, I looked at my wife,
Where was my kindness? Why all the strife?
My heart quickly softened; I now saw my task,
Some love and attention was all they had asked.
I gathered my family and called them by name,
And told them with God’s help I’d not be the same.
We’ll keep Christ in Christmas and honor His plan.
No more fights before Christmas—on that we will stand.
My children’s eyes twinkled; they squealed with delight.
My wife gladly nodded; she knew I was right.
It was the fight before Christmas, but God’s love had come through,
And just like He does, He made all things new.
<Retrieved from http://www.tonycooke.org/holiday-resources/christmas_illustrations/ on 12/2/16.>

We redeem the days of Advent by following the faith example set for us by Joseph.  In addition to being faithful to God’s will, Joseph showed grace.  He demonstrated personal holiness in his full devotion to God and gracious love in the sacrifices he made for Mary and by adopting Jesus as his son.

“He is not Here”

(Please read Matthew 28:1-10.)

MESSAGE: Joy is one of our greatest resources of faith.  Our joy comes from the Resurrection.

CONTEXT: The previous section (27:62-66) introduces the Jewish clergy’s conspiracy to make sure there would be no deceit about the resurrection of Jesus.  They asked the Roman governor to set a watch to keep Jesus’ disciples away from the tomb.  This tells us two things: One, they were aware of Jesus’ promise to rise from the dead.  This is important: they knew His teaching to this extent and yet still rejected Him!  Two, they were so paranoid they anticipated a situation in which Jesus’ disciples would fake a resurrection.

The following section (MTW 28:11-15) is the conclusion of the conspiracy; the guards were bribed to create a false report, the Jewish clergy circulated the false report as a rumor, and the lie persisted to the days in which Matthew wrote his Gospel.

Matthew’s resurrection account is sandwiched in between these conspiracy notes.  So Matthew’s purpose is to expose falsehood of the Jewish conspiracy with the truth.

COMMENT:

  1. The evidence of the Resurrection.

One neglected bit of evidence contrary to the Jewish clergy’s “conspiracy theory” is Matthew’s evidence that there was no plot among the disciples to fake the Resurrection.  We see this in all the details that show the disciples were not initially interested in the tomb.

– While travel was forbidden on the Sabbath, the Sabbath officially ended at sundown.  If anyone wanted to get t/t tomb at the earliest possible moment, they’d have been there Saturday night.  Yet none of the disciples approached the tomb until Sunday.  In fact, if you were up to skullduggery, doing it Saturday night under the cover of darkness would make MORE SENSE.

– If anyone HAD tried to steal Jesus’ body, they would’ve run afoul of the soldiers guarding the tomb.

– Only the women approached the tomb.  If they’d planned to steal Jesus’ body, it would have been done by a group of men with enough physical strength to roll back the heavy stone that closed off the tomb.

– Matthew tells us that the women went to LOOK AT THE TOMB.  This is likely based on the traditional practice of the Jews to return to the tomb of a loved one for three straight days after death to make sure that they were truly dead.  (Apparently lots of human cultures have fears of being buried alive.)

– The other Gospel writers tell us that the women brought spices to anoint the body of Jesus.  There would be no need for these supplies if they were enacting a grave robbery OR expecting Jesus to be raised from the dead.  They expected to find a corpse in the tomb, and had planned to deal with it there, not take it away.

A second bit of evidence is the EARTHQUAKE. Before they could make arrangements to have the stone rolled back, the women experienced a VIOLENT EARTHQUAKE.  But the purpose of the EARTHQUAKE is not to roll the stone back; the text clearly says that the angel did that.  The purpose is to announce the angel’s arrival and the fact that something important has happened. Notice that the tomb is already empty when the stone is rolled away.  This was not done to let Jesus OUT, it was rolled away to let His disciples IN!

The third piece of evidence offered in Matthew’s Gospel is the ANGEL.  Matthew’s description of the angel’s appearance offers us insight into the Resurrection.  Most Bible descriptions of angels are understated.  Matthew and Luke’s description are more supernatural.

– HIS APPEARANCE WAS LIKE LIGHTNING. In Matthew 24:27, LIGHTNING is used to illustrate the suddenness of Jesus’ Second Coming.  Two aspects: the dazzling light of the glory of God and the suddenness of His appearing.

– HIS CLOTHES WERE WHITE AS SNOW.  This expression was also used to describe Jesus at the Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:2).  In Revelation 7:9, the great multitude of Jesus’ followers stand around God’s throne similarly dressed. It symbolizes the purity of the wearer.

– The appearance of the angel was so striking that THE GUARDS WERE SO AFRAID OF HIM THEY SHOOK AND BECAME LIKE DEAD MEN.  This explains how the tomb was open without the soldiers being guilty of dereliction of duty.

We can also gain insight from the angel’s testimony.

– “I KNOW THAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR JESUS, WHO WAS CRUCIFIED.”  Jesus appears to all who truly seek Him.

– “HE IS NOT HERE; HE HAS RISEN, JUST AS HE SAID” (see Matthew 16:21; 17, 23; 20:18-19 for instances where this promise was made).  Though the disciples did not understand or believe them at the time, Jesus kept His promises.

– “COME AND SEE THE PLACE WHERE HE LAY.”  The angel made them an invitation to use their physical senses.

– “THEN GO AND QUICKLY TELL HIS DISCIPLES…”  QUICKLY is for the sake of the other disciples who were still sick with grief.

– “NOW I HAVE TOLD YOU.”  From then on, they were responsible to obey or not.

The fourth and most significant piece of evidence for the resurrection is when Jesus appeared to them.

– SO THE WOMEN HURRIED AWAY FROM THE TOMB…AND RAN TO TELL HIS DISCIPLES. Their feet were propelled by excitement and a desire to obey.

– SUDDENLY JESUS MET THEM.  The word SUDDENLY carries a lot of force in the Greek; in English, it might be, “WHAM! There He was!”  The most important evidence for the Resurrection is all the people Jesus met after He rose from the dead.

– “GREETINGS,” HE SAID.  This typical greeting feels out of place in this atypical situation.

  1. The women’s response to the Resurrection.

We learn first that they were AFRAID, YET FULL OF JOY.  That exact reaction is the most logical one when a person truly encounters God.  It sounds and feels like an odd mix, but it can be particularly energizing.

Second, they responded with obedience.  The angel told them to “GO QUICKLY” so they RAN.  This is a full, literal, and simple obedience.  Obedience in time is part of a full obedience.  To obey fully is to obey immediately.  They were sensitive to how well received this news would be and they were understandably eager to tell Jesus’ BROTHERS (a gracious term!).

Third, worship.  This word combines two Greek words; “to kiss” & “to bow.” It is a word picture of the posture and the attitude of worship; deference given to an authority figure.  It was customary in that culture, to show respect for someone important to kneel before them and kiss the hem of their robe.  While it sounds strange to us that the women CLASPED THE FEET of Jesus, this was the most appropriate behavior in the situation.  They expressed complete submission to Jesus.