The following is a reflection on Luke 24:1-12, one of the Gospel lesson options for Easter Day, Year C, according to the Revised Common Lectionary.
But these words seemed to them an idle tale
The disciples thought they were offering an “idle tale?”
Jesus, their Lord and friend, has died on Friday. It’s now Sunday. He had been offered up to the authorities by one of their own, who had just recently committed suicide. Women—other friends and disciples of Jesus—come to the disciples and tell them that Jesus has risen.
And the disciples thought it was an “idle tale?”
How condescending, right? There go those excitable women again…<eye-roll> <knowing-glance to another disciple> <raise of the eyebrows>
I don’t know about you, but this seems a little out of place to me. Incongruous. In the midst of death and mourning, were they really so callous that they could put down the women? I mean, even if they didn’t believe it, couldn’t they at least hear them out? Offer them a hug and a listening ear?
But, here’s the thing: I know all about that “idle tale” position. It’s a popular position in the world and an increasingly popular position in the church. I mean how many people—how many self-professed Christians—take Easter as a nice little hopey-springy cute-bunny-loving pastel-wardrobe-opportunity? How many people who almost never come to church, will come on Easter either because their spouse or mother forced them to—and while they’ll play the game and sing the hymns they see the Resurrection of Jesus as a metaphor at best, or at worst a cute little myth?
In our pews on Easter Sunday there will be a lot of people who hear the words of the women, who went to the tomb, as an idle tale.
I don’t mean to heap mounds of my own condescension here. And, really, I don’t think Luke does either. Because that exact position was taken up by Jesus’ most dedicated followers, who would become his greatest evangelists and apostles.
And, I don’t think Luke faulted them because, for them, it wasn’t a terminal position.
What changed their minds?: Those who once regarded the Resurrection as an idle-tale would eventually have a powerful experience of the Risen Christ.
Somehow Peter—perhaps because of his experience on the mount of transfiguration, or his sleepy time in the Garden of Gethsemane—was spared the temptation to dismiss the report of the women. Instead of snickering, he went running. And, he found what he probably already knew to be true: the tomb was empty.
Our job at Easter is to echo the women. Proclaim the Resurrection. AND, it’s to offer a space for the Risen Christ to touch our hearts and deliver us from rolling our eyes into a running leap of faith.