The Resurrection Discovered
Luke 24:1-12
Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared…

When the women and the other mourners left the Lord's tomb on the evening of the Crucifixion, it was with the intention, after the sabbath was past, of completing the embalmment. This office of love seems to have been left largely to the women; for it is they who make their way, in the early morning of the first day of the week, to the sepulchre. They seem to have had no knowledge, for they had no apprehension, of the Roman guard, which was manifestly placed at the sepulchre on the Jewish sabbath, when the disciples and the women were keeping the sad day in strictest privacy. Their one apprehension was how to roll away the stone; but, like so many apprehended difficulties, it was found to vanish away - some hands stronger than women's had been before them and had rolled away the stone, and left them no difficulty in discovering an empty tomb. The narrative of John about Mary Magdalene's visit is quite consistent with Luke's narrative; for, as Gilbert West has pointed out in his admirable analysis of the Resurrection-history, Mary rushes off alone to tell the disciples, "They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him" - implying that others had been with her at the tomb. Without any misgivings, therefore, about the reliable character of the history, let us point out the instructive steps in the discovery of our Lord's resurrection.

I. THE WOMEN WITH THE SPICES DISCOVER AN EMPTY TOMB. (Vers. 1-3.) They had employed the evening after the sabbath was past in preparing all that was needful for embalming thoroughly and finally the Saviour's body. It was with this fragrant burden they made their way in the twilight towards the tomb, to find their fears groundless and the stone already removed. But a new fear now laid hold on them. There is no body in the tomb; it is empty. They do not appear to have taken in the significance of the grave-clothes carefully put aside because never to be needed more, as John did at his subsequent visit; their whole anxiety was about what had become of the dear body which they had come to embalm. The empty tomb was a discovery. The first impression, as indicated by Mary's message (John 20:2), was that their enemies had seized the body and disposed of it to defeat all their ideas of embalming. One thing is certain from the history, that neither the women nor the disciples could have been parties to the removal of the body.

II. THE WOMEN THAT WAITED GOT EXPLANATIONS FROM THE ANGELS. (Vers. 4-7.) Mary Magdalene, acting on impulse, seems to have hurried off to tell Peter and John about the discovery of the empty tomb, while her companions wait longer to get some explanation, if possible, regarding it. And the waiting women are not disappointed. Angels appear in shining garments, and, as the women sink before them in terror, they proceed to reassure them with the glad tidings, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man mast be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again." It was the angels that reminded them of the promise of resurrection, and how it was now fulfilled. This is the second stage, therefore, in the discovery of the Resurrection. The fear of the women had been that the Jews had got the body. But there could have been no such plot carried out, for the very simple reason that, if they had got the body and it had not risen, they could have produced such evidence at the Pentecost as would have overturned the apostolic testimony, and prevented the inauguration of the Christian society. The angelic explanation, based as it was on our Lord's previous promises, was the only satisfactory one. The Resurrection was the fulfilment of Christ's deliberate plan.

III. THE REPORT OF THE WOMEN TO THE ELEVEN AND THE REST. (Vers. 8-11.) It is quite reasonable to suppose that Mary Magdalene was the forerunner of the rest, and through her report induced Peter and John to start at once for the sepulchre, while the main body of the women, consisting of Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and others, returned more leisurely to make their report. At all events, the narrative of Luke implies all that is given by Matthew and by John. For the disciples who went to Emmaus distinctly say that certain of the disciples "went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said; but him they saw not (ver. 24) - implying that the women, in their report, had spoken of having seen the Master. The testimony of the women was based upon a threefold foundation - first, the assurance of the angels; secondly, the promise of resurrection given in Galilee by the Lord; thirdly, according to Matthew's account, an interview with the risen Lord himself (Matthew 28:9, 10). It was a remarkable testimony certainly, but at the same time it had ample warrant.

IV. THE BEST-ATTESTED FACTS MAY SEEM, TO DAZED MINDS, THE IDLEST FANCIES. (Ver. 11.) The poor disciples are, however, so overpowered with grief and disappointment that they are utterly unprepared for the announcement of the Resurrection. Here the suppler mind of woman is revealed in contrast to the more plodding, sifting, logic-demanding mind of man. The women enjoy the consolations of the Resurrection much sooner than the men. They take in the evidence at a glance. They do not question. They simply accept. But the disciples will not believe in a hurry. And so the messengers of the best tidings ever related unto men are at first in the position of the Master ..... himself, and constrained to cry, Who hath believed our report?" And the unbehevmg criticism of to-day is more unreasonable than the disciples were before the women. Because the resurrection of Christ may break in upon the ideas of nature's absolute uniformity which the critics have adopted, the whole evidence of resurrection-power continued through the ages is to be treated as an idle tale! Minds may be so dazed with grief or with success on certain lines as to discredit the completest evidence ever offered to the world. Before prejudice, the strongest facts get resolved into the idlest fancies. We should earnestly seek an impartial mind.

V. PETER'S FIRST ATTEMPT TO DEAL WITH THE EVIDENCE OF THE RESURRECTION. (Ver. 12.) Peter, as we learn from John's account, accompanied by John, rushes off to see the sepulchre. He reaches it after John, but pushes past him, and goes into the sepulchre. There he sees the linen clothes laid by themselves, yet departs without reaching anything but perplexity. To John's keener intellect the grave-clothes, so neatly deposited and the napkin laid in a place by itself, show that Jesus had risen, and laid aside his sleeping-clothes, as we do our night-dresses in the morning, because he had entered on the day of resurrection. John becomes a believer in the Resurrection on circumstantial evidence. Peter, it would seem, cannot make it out, and has to get a personal interview somewhat later on that day (cf. ver. 34), before he can take it in. It thus appears that one mind may handle the Resurrection evidence successfully, while another may only stumble through it into deeper perplexity. But when a soul like Peter is in earnest, the Lord will not leave him in the darkness, but will grant such further light as will dispel the gloom and dissipate all perplexity. Meanwhile the discovery of Christ's resurrection is but the interesting first stage in the remarkable evidence to part of which we have yet to proceed. - R.M.E.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

WEB: But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they and some others came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared.

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