Seward United Methodist Church
Monday, October 21, 2019
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Idle Talk or Amazing Grace?

Luke 24:1-12

24 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in, they did not find the body. 4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5 The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. 6 Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8 Then they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

 

Normally I like to use the New Living Translation of the Bible when I preach. But the first translation I read of this text was the New Revised Standard Version, and I liked how it sounded. So I stuck with it this time. I like how they translated verse 11: The words of the women sounded to the disciples like an “idle tale.”

It didn’t sound credible, believable. This is probably their cultural bias showing through. In first century Hebrew culture, women were considered to be too unstable, too unreliable to be good witnesses. Men, especially those of you who are married, if you have an opinion here, you had better keep it to yourself. In most Jewish courts, the testimony of women was not admissible as evidence unless it was backed up by the testimony of a man.

I wonder: How is the testimony of Christ-followers met today? Are we considered credible? Do our words sound like an idle tale to other people?

We certainly don’t have the influence or credibility we used to have. Even in my lifetime, I’ve seen the credibility given to Christians diminish rather significantly. And I’d like to think my lifetime has not been THAT long yet.

I think for many people now, Easter is an idle tale. It’s something those Christians believe, but not something that the world puts a lot of stock into. A lot of people would say it’s nonsense, bologna. For many people, today is just another Sunday. Or even just another day. It’s not like Sunday really holds a special place in our society anymore. It’s just another day to work or shop or do errands or pursue our hobbies.

Well, in spite of hearing from women, those unreliable women, Peter went to the tomb to see for himself. He saw the empty linens and he went away amazed.

What is your response to the story of Easter? Does it sound like an idle tale? Like nonsense? Something that is not credible? Or are you amazed? Are you amazed at the love and grace of God? Are you amazed that he would descend to take on human flesh? Are you amazed that he would die for your sins? Amazed that he rose again?

If you are amazed, then share that amazing tale.

There’s an old saying about lies: If you tell a big enough lie, loud enough and long enough and to enough people, then eventually people will think it’s the truth. It works wonders for politicians. But I think the reverse is also true: If the truth is not spoken; if it’s kept silent for long enough by enough people; then eventually the world will think it’s a lie. The more we keep silent, the more our story sounds like a lie.

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. If it’s an idle tale, there is no need to repeat it. But if it’s the amazing truth, we dare not keep it silent.

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