Turning their backs

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“Then they did remember what Jesus had said, and they turned their backs on the tomb….” Luke 24:8

The moment of remembering, the moment of insight came for these women. They not only remembered, but also they were beginning to comprehend that what Jesus had told them was true.

He was risen.

This realization led the women to change their perspective. In the story, they literally “turn their backs on the tomb.”

This is a significant act of faith and believing. Of course, it is phrase that JB Phillips uses to describe their movement as they prepare to leave and go to tell the community, but it is more than this. To turn one’s back is to put something behind you. To move on. To no longer give it your full face on attention. Turning one’s back can be a gesture and sign of rejection, disengagement, dismissal. It is a powerful yet nonviolent act. It is a gesture of claiming back one’s own authority. In the moment of remembering that brings them to believing, these women turn their back on death.


“Turning one’s back” echoes the renunciation questions in the sacrament of baptism that ask three times if we renounce that which hinders the fullness of life God has given us (renounce: spiritual forces of wickedness, evil powers, sin). These questions are followed by the turning promises: turn to Jesus, trust, obey. In some communities, there is a practice that those being examined are invited to physically turn as they answer these ancient questions.

Turn your back on darkness; face the light.

Today, you might consider how you need to “turn your back” on that which no longer gives life. Spend time in prayer with this, and then if you are comfortable, physically pray the posture and movement. Stand and face the tomb. Let the moment of realized risen life and belief come to you. Then, turn your back on death. Let freedom, hope, and risen life be yours.

Prayer: Giver of everlasting life, help me believe and receive the gift you give in the resurrection. Help me turn my back on death, and all that robs me of the abundant life. Turn our world around in your resurrecting, that fullness of life, light, love, and freedom may reign. Alleluia. Amen.

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