They did not believe
May 9, 2023
“But it struck them as sheer imagination and they did not believe them.” Luke 24:11
The women who went to the tomb that early morning on the first day of the week were known to the eleven. They were part of the circle of disciples who traveled with Jesus and shared community and fellowship with those who Jesus called to follow him. These women provided from their resources for Jesus and his companions and supported his ministry in Galilee. These men knew these women well. They were traveling companions. The eleven had been recipients of their care and friendship as part of this close circle. James (the less) had a familial relationship as his mother was among the reporters that morning. The disciples had relied on these women as they created the community with Jesus, and yet on this morning after his death, the men did not see the women as reliable. The report the women gave of the events they experienced and the conclusions drawn were simply too fantastic to be believed.
What must it have been like to hear the story that Joanna, Mary, and Mary Magdalene shared? What was going on in James’s heart as he listened and watched his mother and the other women share their experience and proclaim that Jesus was risen?
Although Jesus had trusted and relied on these women during his teaching and travels, the disciples must have thought the women were speaking nonsense and making up a story that could not possibly be true. “It struck them….” The report from the women astounded the eleven, and they immediately judged it as fiction. Faithful friends and family were now seen as unreliable witnesses.
Today, spend time praying and reflecting on what it would have been like to be a recipient of this report. Put yourself in James’s sandals as he receives his mother’s recounting of her morning. Think about how you feel when you hear news that seems unbelievable coming from known and reliable ones. What does this disconnect do to your heart? Your relationships? How do you hold both elements at the same time: the wanting to believe them because you know and love them and the impossibility of what they are saying? Sit with this holy tension and let the Holy Spirit help you.
Prayer: God of mystery and life, you reveal your power and death-defying love in remarkable ways that are, at times, difficult to believe, trust, and accept. Keep me open to your glorious impossible. Help my unbelief. Amen. Alleluia.
Photo: Peter Paul Rubens, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons