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An Idle Tale

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An Idle Tale *

Luke 24:11 (ESV)
11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

Speaking of raining on your parade – pouring cold water on the women’s discovery – here it is.

It’s Easter Morning and the women went to the tomb, expecting to see a corpse which they were prepared to anoint for burial.  They arrive and the stone is rolled away; they go into the tomb and there is no body.  They are perplexed.  Then they see two men (angels) and now they are frightened, and bow their faces to the ground.

Then comes a rebuke:  Why do you seek the living among the dead?  Precisely – that’s what no one expected.  A dead man doesn’t rise.

Then, the angels give the women a quick refresher course.  They had heard this from the lips of Jesus on several occasions:

            the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise

            ex.  Don’t lock the door of the card from the inside; always lock it with your key – then you’ll not lock the key in the car.  I’ve said that a few times.

In the case of the women, they remembered his words

Then they returned to the 12 and told them these things – the stone rolled away, the empty tomb, the 2 angels, and how they remembered that these events all fit in with what the Lord had told all of them.

Then verse 11.  Nonsense!  And idle tale!  i.e. they did not believe them.

But verse 12…Luke 24:12 (ESV)
12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

Christ is alive – three reasons:

Point One:  Real Events

If these things didn’t happen, then the Christian faith is nonsense!  It is not believable.

We’re not talking about the legend of Davy Crocket – when I finally realized that a lot of what I read about him in my books about him were pure legend, it didn’t markedly change my opinion of him.  He was still a hero in my eyes.

And Santa Claus seems to have survived in the minds of many despite the sad coming into maturity of many a boy and girl.

But, this isn’t true of Christianity or of the resurrection.  It all hangs on history.  It happened or it didn’t.

I remember being utterly perplexed when I heard the minister of my church announce one Sunday morning, that thanks to the teaching of some professors or professor at General Seminary (in New York), we didn’t have to bother ourselves about believing this story ‘literally’.  Even then, in my mushy brain, I knew that couldn’t be.  What is the opposite of ‘literally’ – non-materially, spiritually?  But what does that mean.  It happened – literally happened, or it literally didn’t.  There didn’t seem to me to be any middle ground in that one. 

Others who have admitted the facts as recorded to be beyond dispute, yet have attempted to show that Christ was not really dead, but that, being stunned and palsied, he wore for a time the appearance of death, and was afterwards restored to consciousness by

the cool grave and the spices


It is very clear that the women at the tomb were not predisposed to expect a body – quite the opposite as they had in their hands material to prepare the body for permanent burial.

Despite an empty tomb, they still were not sure what had happened.  If the officials were the ones to have taken down the body, they certainly would have made that known.  If the disciples had stolen the body, then what accounts for the subsequent martyrdoms of most of the apostles.  It’s unlikely that martyrs will die for a lie.  You can bet that Islamic martyrs wouldn’t be offering their bodies as bombs if they didn’t believe the in an Islamic paradise for martyrs.

The women saw an empty tomb; Peter and John did as well (in John’s account)

Very carefully documented by Luke – and both the women and Luke did not understand the significance of the empty tomb right away.  But, there is no dispute about the facts

It too time for the disciples to become convinced by the sheer weight of the evidence.

Point Two:  The Master’s Promise

Luke 24:4-8 (ESV)
4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise." 8 And they remembered his words,


They are perplexed.

Ex.  It’s like the dog when you point at a bone, they look at your finger.  They can’t make sense of it.

So, God’s sends messengers to bring clarity into their fog of perplexity.

            Angels – part of Luke’s gospel – Zechariah, Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds out in the field

            But, key is not their appearance but the word they speak.  They are there to instruct them.

They recall these women to the word he had spoken to them in Galilee. 

The women, undoubtedly knew what Jesus had told the disciples on 3 occasions about his death and resurrection. 

Luke 9:22 (ESV)
22 saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."


The angels tell them:


            Luke 24:6 (ESV)
6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,

God speaks and acts and he fulfills his promises.  All the way through Jesus’ ministry he was telling them what is outlined in:

 Luke 24:7 (ESV)
7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise."


Their own ideas were so strong that they missed what was in front of them.  And now, under the angelic instruction, the light begins to dawn.

Luke 24:8 (ESV)
8 And they remembered his words,


It takes time for the truths of the gospel to fasten into our hearts.

No doubt all of you here today know something of the resurrection of our Lord – even the news media understands that that is why Christians celebrate Easter – even when they carry programs that deny that there was a resurrection – such as the program a month ago on the alleged discovery of Jesus’ family grave.  (That was bogus, by the way).


Point Three:  They Went and They Told

Luke 24:9-11 (ESV)
9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

Here we run into rain which fell on their parade.  Ever had that happen.  You get all excited about something, then begin to tell someone who immediately says something like…Big Deal!

However, as you look Luke’s account of the resurrection and also of the events of that day – 3 of them he records – one of the main points he makes is that the evidence for the resurrection of Christ is not just that the facts tell us the story; not just that it is in keeping with his promises, but that people are telling others about the resurrection – which, in Luke leads to individual personal encounters with the Lord Jesus.

Women persisted.  What seemed like nonsense, when checked out by the disciples, led them to faith and life in the Lord.  Whatever they said, it persuaded the Peter to check it out for himself.

Peter checked out the tomb; it was empty, just as they said, and he went home marveling at what had happened.

The empty tomb is not all that is needed.  We need a word which explains the significance of its being empty.

And that is found in the news that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, that sin and death do not have the last word; but the Lord Jesus does.


How can I know.

1.  The Facts

2.  The Promise

3.  The Witnesses

At the end of the Luke 24, the risen Jesus tells his followers this:

Luke 24:46-48 (ESV)
46 and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.

And now, today, that word which brings new life is ours.  Ours to live out; and ours to share with others.  How will people know about the resurrection of Jesus – they will know through the individual and corporate testimony of us, the church.


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