Red Letter Year: 9/20

Luke 24.1-12

1 But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 3 So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.

5 The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”

8 Then they remembered that he had said this. 9 So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples — and everyone else — what had happened. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. 11 But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. 12 However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.


One of the things all four Gospels agree on is that women were first to learn about and proclaim the resurrection of Jesus. Mary Magdalene is present in all four tellings. She is alone in John, but goes along with the other Mary in Mark and Matthew. Mark also includes Salome. Luke has both Marys, Joanna, and several other unnamed women. These are likely the same women who supported Jesus’ ministry, who remained at the cross through his crucifixion (unlike his male followers), who then came to care for his body as soon as their Sabbath restriction was lifted. They showed a good deal more concern, care, and initiative than any of the male disciples. They also remember Jesus’ teaching once the angel reminds them, which indicates they were more than submissive servants. They were active participants in Jesus’ ministry, helping inaugurate the kingdom. They are the first preachers of the Gospel. What they preached sounded like so much noise to the men, not because of a defect in their preaching, but because the men had hearts full of doubt (Jesus will say this later in this chapter). Closed minds, hearts, and ears prevented these men from hearing the wonderful message of Jesus’ great news. At least they moved Peter enough to go check out what they were talking about.

It’s sad how this sounds very much like the church in America today, where women are routinely forbidden from fulfilling their calls to preach the Gospel, for no other reason than their gender (and despite often showing more concern, care, and initiative, just as their first century sisters did) . This is done in the name of complimentarianism – the idea that men are suited for some activities while women are suited for others. That’s a nice, nostalgic idea, but in practice it always means denying women from preaching the Gospel, from teaching, from leading – basically from doing any of the things men want to do. Women turn out to be “suited” for the sort of things (some) men don’t like doing: serving in the nursery, teaching kids classes, cleaning, etc. How convenient. Except it’s a lie.

The truth is God made humans in his own image. Both male and female were created in the image and likeness of God. This is how it was in the beginning before our sin screwed things up. Gender inequality is always a sign of sin. Then Jesus came and brought us into the kingdom of God.  In Christ there is no male or female, Gentile or Jew, slave or free. All inequalities cease when the kingdom comes. Throughout his Gospel, Luke consistently showed women in a positive light, even at times as a picture of what God is like (e.g., woman searching for her coin in ch. 15). Here at the end, he completes his theme by giving the entire band of women followers the place of preeminence in preaching the good news of Jesus’ resurrection. If we are going to follow Jesus, if we are going to live biblically, if we are going to participate in the kingdom, then we have to embrace full gender equality in the church. Anything less is a capitulation to sin and a denial of the power of Jesus and his kingdom.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Red Letter Year: 9/19

Luke 23.44-56

44 By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 45 The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. 46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.

47 When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” 48 And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow [literally: beating their breasts]. 49 But Jesus’ friends, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching.

50 Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph. He was a member of the Jewish high council, 51 but he had not agreed with the decision and actions of the other religious leaders. He was from the town of Arimathea in Judea, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come. 52 He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in a long sheet of linen cloth and laid it in a new tomb that had been carved out of rock. 54 This was done late on Friday afternoon, the day of preparation, as the Sabbath was about to begin.

55 As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law.


Mark and Matthew record Jesus quoting Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Luke records Jesus quoting Psalm 31, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” We might be tempted to read this as Luke trying to make Jesus sound less desperate, less out of control, less forsaken, but if you read on in Psalm 31, you don’t get that sense at all:

5 I entrust my spirit into your hand.
Rescue me, Lord, for you are a faithful God.

6 I hate those who worship worthless idols.
I trust in the Lord.
7 I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love,
for you have seen my troubles,
and you care about the anguish of my soul.
8 You have not handed me over to my enemies
but have set me in a safe place.

9 Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in distress.
Tears blur my eyes.
My body and soul are withering away.
10 I am dying from grief;
my years are shortened by sadness.
Sin has drained my strength;
I am wasting away from within.
11 I am scorned by all my enemies
and despised by my neighbors—
even my friends are afraid to come near me.
When they see me on the street,
they run the other way.
12 I am ignored as if I were dead,
as if I were a broken pot.
13 I have heard the many rumors about me,
and I am surrounded by terror.
My enemies conspire against me,
plotting to take my life.

14 But I am trusting you, O Lord,
saying, “You are my God!”
15 My future is in your hands.

Except Jesus has been handed over to his enemies and they have carried out their plot to end his life. His friends are watching from a distance, and he is surrounded by terror. Death, pain, and mocking are all around him on that hilltop. Yet, he entrusts his spirit to the Father, trusts in a rescue not limited by the death Jesus feels coming over his own body. Jesus dies and in dying shows us how to face death. For centuries, Christians have prayed this at the end of their lives, pastors and loved ones have prayed it over corpses: into your hands Father, I commit my spirit.

But Jesus doesn’t just show us how to face death. This should not be a prayer reserved for the end of life. It is a prayer we should pray with such regularity that at the moment of death it springs to our lips from well-worn habit. The cross shows us how to live – live committing our spirits to the Father. I really hope you will pray that today and often. Into your hands, Father, I commit my spirit.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.