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Included and Commissionedby Duane Mabee on March 16, 2023
As we approach Easter, let’s spend some time looking at the details of the resurrection and what they mean. The Gospels spend a significant amount of ink describing the details surrounding the discovery of the empty tomb and the spreading news that Jesus had risen from the dead. Each detail is important as it communicates something about the truth of the resurrection and its implications.
For example, have you noticed that in the first several hours after the resurrection, the angels and Jesus take great delight in appearing to people to announce the resurrection, but the angels only appear to the women. They never appear to the men. Sometime in the afternoon, Jesus appeared to two disciples who were heading out of town, and at some point, He appeared to Peter, but He doesn’t appear to the other disciples until that evening.
That’s not the order you would expect. Given Jesus’ history with the disciples, you have expected Him to appear to Peter, James and John first, then to the other disciples, and after that to the rest. Why the dramatic change in order?
Here are some thoughts. In some respects, He appeared to them in the order they came looking for Him. The women were up early. They had already purchased and prepared spices for embalming and were at the tomb very early in the morning, while it was still dark. The angels and Jesus rewarded their devotion by appearing to them first. That’s not the complete answer, though, because it doesn’t explain the appearance of Jesus to the men leaving town. Nor does it explain why the angels and Jesus appeared to the women but did not appear to Peter and John when they came to the tomb, and then appeared to Mary Magdalene after they left. What’s up with that?
In The Path of His Passion, Bill Crowder writes, “It is highly significant that the risen Christ first appeared to the women. In first-century Israel, women were generally viewed as being of low value and considered of little or no importance – but not to Christ! He valued women and treated them with dignity and honor the world of that day would have found shocking.”
In the sequence of how Christ revealed His resurrection, He demonstrated that His love, grace and salvation were for everyone. It would not be granted to the “important people” first with the leftovers going to the rest. Those considered to be the least were made first so we would all know that we are seen, loved and invited. Also, by making the women the first witnesses, and rebuking the disciples for their failure to believe them, Jesus made it clear that anyone who sees and believes is a credible witness. All are invited. All are included and commissioned.