Text: Matthew 28:1-10; Luke 24:9-11; John 20:26
Proposition: It is in the inconsistencies of the text of Scripture that we see deeper the truth of Who Jesus is.
Introduction: One of the things I have come to cherish is that God is rarely doing what I expect. He moves with boldness one moment and with subtlety the next. I see it in everyday life and I see it in the Bible. You might even call it an inconsistency of Scripture. Take, for instance, the way things happened in those moments of the first day of the week that resurrection Sunday, when the dust of death had settled and now it was a time to respond. There are things here that seem inconsistent. What is it that these are meant to do in the shaping of our understanding of the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Let’s begin by looking at Matthew 28:1-10.
I. Why go at dawn to do the work of a mortician? As faithful Jewish women they wait for the Sabbath to be done, which technically was sunset on Saturday. But why come at the crack of dawn, why come knowing the tomb was sealed with an immense stone and perhaps even with a guard over it? It seems inconsistent and yet each of the gospel writers begins their account with these women who came while all others still slept. What was it that could not wait another hour? Perhaps the words of the angel that met them there gives a glimmer of understanding as he says, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.” How does the angel know this, we can only assume that he was told it, angels aren’t omniscient or able to read minds. So the angel has this understanding because of what God has instructed him to say. The evident thing to God is that they were seeking Jesus, not the body of Jesus but the relationship they have had with Jesus. Is this what the Spirit of God stirred in the heart of these women, is this the first message of the resurrection, that God stirs our hearts to seek Him despite all barriers, to try to move closer to Him at all costs?
II. When the command is clear, why say it twice? The women are met by the angel, he comforts their minds as they encounter spiritual reality, the reality of an angel right there in front of them. He confirms the evidence for them, Jesus is not here. He’s not only not here in terms of the physical tomb, he’s not here in terms of the realm of the dead. Then the angel issues a command. He comforts, he confirms and then he commands, “And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead and indeed He is going before you into Galilee, there you will see Him. Behold I have told you.” Do you feel the urgency in this command, do you here the shock in it, “risen from the dead”? Do you hear the authority underwriting it, “Behold I have told you.”? Just look at verse 8 if you want to see their reaction. That’s just as it should be but then comes verse 9, Jesus is right there greeting them with what would be the equivalent of our word, ‘Hello’. Does that seem just a little bit inconsistent to what you were expecting? Jesus steps into their view and they see and touch Him and worship Him. What might this tell you about our Lord, is it that He rewards faith and obedience, is it that He loves us beyond what we might expect? He sees their hearts overwhelmed with hope and joy and He amplifies that by stepping right in front of them and confirms their faith. Is this what a living Lord does every day? Then He says to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee and there they will see Me.” Jesus says the same thing to the women that the angel had said, “Go to Galilee…”. So the women leave, likely running and crying out to each other, wiping tears from their eyes and laughing and crying all at the same time as they head to where the disciples are staying. This leads us to the next inconsistency, have a look at Luke 24:9-11.
III. When the command is clear, what is that blocks our belief? Credible voices saying incredible things, how could a clear command received by more than three people whom they knew and trusted not be to them what it was intended to be, a command. They were to break camp, head out, close shop, head to Galilee, yet they don’t.. Their action was inconsistent with what we would expect and it reveals to us not only their humanity and the nature of faith but also the character of Christ. Have a look at verse 13, it’s the same day, likely late afternoon and two of the disciples are headed out, but not to the Galilee. They were on the road to Emmaus, going back home. The disciples heard the truth of the command from the angel and from Jesus and chose not to believe it. Why? Is it that memory is stronger than reality, what I remembered now rules my understanding of what can be. A cross, a torn body, a cold tomb, death…there was within them a contest between fear and faith, it produced action but not obedience. Emmaus was not Galilee. The reality of the risen Christ is confirmed to these two in Emmaus and they run back to tell the others and again the story is inconsistent. You’d think they would immediately head for Galilee but while they debate this new understanding Jesus suddenly comes and shows Himself to them all. Now it is clear that He really is risen, to all except one, Thomas was not there. Eight days later, still in Jerusalem it says in John 20:26, Thomas is won. He sees, hears and touches the risen Jesus Christ. It’s only now that they obey the command and in John 21 we see the disciples in Galilee. So what is it that blocks belief? Certainly we are creatures of habit, that is we do what we remember worked for us yesterday. But belief is also blocked by sin, the thirst to always be in control, to be the highest authority over our life. It is this belief that God overrules with the gift of faith. Perhaps what the inconsistencies show us is that Jesus knows who we are, He knows the issues that trip us up. Knowing all this He pursues us, with all the power that sovereignty possesses. Because He is resurrected, He now establishes by faith our resurrection as a certainty. And it is this that He wants us to know.