On the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 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. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 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.
From Rev. Katie Nakamura Rengers
“Suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them.”
Two angels. Why two?
I had to go back and read the end of each of the other three Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and John – to confirm that they all tell this little bit of the story in a different way. Sure enough, it’s:
One angel in Matthew, who rolls back the stone and sits on it. (I do like the playfulness of this one)
One “young man” in Mark, sitting on the right side of where Jesus had lain.
Two angels in John, sitting perfectly symmetrical at the head and feet.
Two “men in dazzling clothes” in Luke, not inside the tomb itself, but standing beside the three women.
Why two? Perhaps it’s not important. Then again, we know that Luke used the Gospel of Mark as a template when he wrote his version of the Jesus story… so Luke deliberately changed this detail.
I’m reminded of a parallel story in Luke 10, where Jesus sends his disciples out to preach the Good News in neighboring towns. He doesn’t send them alone, he sends them in pairs. Could Luke be saying that The Good News is something so weighty, so important, so controversial, so unbelievable, so mysterious, so joyful…. that no one should carry it alone?
I love and appreciate you all at The Abbey, because I know that I do not carry the Good News alone. This Lenten devotional is proof of that! In fact, despite three years of seminary and nearly eleven years of ordained ministry, I’m not always the best prepared person to understand and interpret the Gospel. So, we carry the Good News together, we interpret it for each other, and we share Jesus’ commission to preach it always and everywhere, in our every day lives, by word and action.
I’m thinking of that song Zach often leads us in:
When we sing to God in heaven,
We will find such harmony,
Born of all we’ve known together
Of Christ’s love and agony.
How about it? Will you join your Abbey friends at the door of the empty tomb? What adventure awaits us on the other side?