After the Sabbath, three women arrive at the tomb of Jesus as the sun was rising. They had come to anoint the body of Jesus and along the way had discussed and questioned: “Who will roll the stone away for us?” Upon their arrival, their discussion was abruptly ended for with eyes to see and ears to hear the scene before them brought several emotions to the surface. The stone was already removed and on it sat an illuminating man, an angel, brilliant like lightning, in snow-white garments. He had been dispatched from heaven to roll the stone away not to release Jesus but to proclaim Jesus.
As they stood perplexed he spoke: “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember… “
What were they to remember? “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” and the sign of Jonah: “as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”
In fear and trepidation they left and went and told the disciples all that they had heard. Their words were received as nonsense with the exception of Peter and John who went to investigate. Peter left wondering, John left believing.
Beloved, the tomb is empty, He has risen! Do you remember these words? Will you share them this day?
King Herod, of Herod fame, inflicts harm on the early church to please the Jews. But, God is at work both in and behind the scenes as we read this chapter and see the fulfillment of the words of Jesus “Upon this rock I will build “MY” church and the gates of hell shall not prevail.” [Matt 16] Satan may seek to bring the church into disfavor but he fails to realize that what he seeks to disarm God will use to bring about good. [Rom 8:28]
But, just as then, we are often befuddled at God’s working. Why did God allow James to be executed but released Peter? This is one of those “secret things” that belongs to God alone and will be revealed in eternity. [Deut 29:29]
Dr. Luke refreshingly gives us some comedic relief of the persecution of the early church with his account of Peter’s release from jail. While Peter sleeps, King Herod gleefully waits for daybreak of the day after a solemn religious holiday to murder him. Sound familiar? We remember that was the plan for Jesus as well. Into this mix we find the church persistently praying for Peter. But after an angel miraculously releases him and he arrives in the middle of their prayer meeting they tell Rhoda “she has lost her mind.” Again, like the account of Jesus’ resurrection, it is called nonsense.
Dr. Luke gives us this chapter to show us that God not only hears the prayers of the church but opens the windows of heaven.