The immediate events after the Resurrection were absolutely chaotic! And so, let’s continue our art series, which illustrates the immediate aftermath of the Resurrection, shall we?
After the angel speaks with the three women at the tomb (depicted in this artwork!) the other women hurry away and tell the disciples the news — Jesus is no longer in the tomb!
The reaction of the disciples? Well… you can say it was less than enthusiastic.
Saint Luke describes it as such:
9 Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others. 10The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, 11but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them.
Think about that word: nonsense.
And if you think about it, their reaction makes perfect sense. Jesus was dead. Dead! It was a highly public execution! There was no way that any of the words that spilled out the holy women’s mouths made sense.
Yes, they were highly respected women… one was even an apostle’s mother! Yes, they were holy and loved by Jesus. Yes, they were truthful.
But really… the news that they had to say was just too incredible. It couldn’t be true. It was dark… maybe they came to the wrong tomb? Or maybe they finally had a nervous breakdown after all the stresses that they received.
Besides, the women almost certainly garbled up the message. Saint John reports that the message that Saint Mary Magdalene was not, “We saw angels and they told us this.” Followed by a detailed and reasonable message which gives them hope that perhaps Jesus might not be dead.
Instead, her initial message was recorded as this:
1On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”
Would you believe that message? Would you believe that Jesus was missing from a tomb that you knew to be guarded heavily by Roman guards?
I know I wouldn’t. I would have thought that the women had gone crazy.
And so, to illustrate this moment, I would like to turn to James Tissot:
In this picture, Mary Magdalene bursts into the room that the Eleven apostles are hiding in. As it is early in the morning, most of the apostles are sleeping… or were sleeping, anyway, before Mary Magdalene burst in.
Most of the disciples appear to want to go back asleep. It is only Saint Peter, who stands at the right of the door, and Saint John, who stands at the left of the door, who seem to really hear her message. And even they don’t seem very excited about it.
Yet it is that news that prompts them into action… as we shall see in the next artwork!
And that should give us hope. After all, how many times do we doubt? How many times are we unwilling or reluctant to follow the God’s Word in our own lives — especially if by following God, we must inconvenience ourselves and sacrifice something?
How many times are we unenthusiastic toward God?
Jesus Christ’s apostles — some of the people who were closest to Him in His life! — also were like this at times.
And Jesus loved them still.
May we remember that Jesus loves us!