Surprise, Surprise

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ”

And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened. (Luke 24:1–12)

When the women came to the tomb that Sunday morning they were very sad; it was the third day since Jesus had been crucified, and they wanted to properly prepare his body that had been buried hurriedly before the Sabbath began. Now, with the Sabbath over, they could do the job right.

The women did not suspect, did not imagine, had not conceived of even the possibility that Jesus’ body would not be in that tomb. Their primary concern was wondering exactly how they’d get into it to do the final tasks that they thought they owed him, given that the stone blocking the tomb entrance was large and heavy.

The angels that met the women at the tomb wondered why they were looking in a tomb, of all places, for Jesus. Then they quoted Jesus’ prediction of his resurrection. Even then, confronted with the reality of the empty tomb, they had trouble understanding Jesus’ words.

God often surprises us, not so much because he hasn’t told us ahead of time what to expect, but mostly because we simply didn’t understand what he told us. Thankfully, he isn’t dependent upon our understanding in order for him to act on our behalf.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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