12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
Peter stood over the empty tomb where Jesus’ body was laid out just as Lazarus’ was once wrapped in linen strips and laid in a different grave. Peter examined the strips of linen, and even with the words of the women in his mind, wondered to himself what had happened.
How extraordinary that after all he saw and heard from Jesus, Peter didn’t know what the empty tomb meant.
Perhaps in shock, he forgot that Jesus foretold His death and missed that Jesus also foretold His return to the living. Jesus even rebuked Peter as “Satan” when Peter suggested that Jesus must not die. “You are thinking like men, not like God,” Jesus warned. Perhaps Peter pushed this confrontation from the forefront of his mind, still ashamed that he denied Jesus three times before the crow of the morning cock.
So now, Peter wondered what the empty tomb meant. A completely logical conclusion may have occurred to him — the body of the Lord Jesus must be stolen!
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” an angel asked Mary, the mother of James, Joanna, and Mary Magdalene who came to the tomb earlier with spices for the Lord’s body. The angel opened the women’s eyes and hearts to the truth, even asking if they remembered Jesus’ own words regarding the prophesies of the older covenant with God.
When the women returned to the Eleven to tell the truth of the Resurrection, no one believed them. The women’s words seemed like nonsense. But Peter ran to the tomb to see for himself.
Like Peter, each one of us must see the empty tomb, wonder and remember what it means.
Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
Jesus implies all Christians are not the same; that not everyone who is deemed ‘good soil’ will produce the same amount or same quality of crop. Each individual who blooms in God’s good garden carries the seed of faith. Where we go, who we meet, how we behave towards one another and towards others — these determine whether we produce any crop at all and what kind of crop we produce from our seed of faith.
With our faith in God, do we then sow doubt, fear, self-hatred, bigotry? Or do use our faith to sow understanding, peace, love, forgiveness, tolerance? Do we use the Word of God to browbeat those we consider ‘unbelievers’ or do we use the Word to accept them for who and where they are? Do we love those who mistreat us? Do we pray for those who try to kill us?
These are hard questions to answer honestly.
Some Christians wish to build walls between neighbors, perhaps after the adage, “Good fences makes good neighbors.” Others want to arm themselves in an effort to protect life and oftentimes property.
I see Jesus shaking His head, perhaps with a wry smile, maybe with tears. Walls and guns do not match the Lord I serve. Rather, the Jesus I know rips down barriers between people, and commands me to turn the other cheek, to go two miles when forced to go one, to give my coat when my shirt is stolen, to love my enemies and do good to those who mistreat me. I believe in modern times, it’s termed, “To go above and beyond…”
23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
The appearance of morality makes some people believe they are actually moral. Some people convince themselves that by avoiding this or avoiding that, promoting this or promoting that, believing this or believing that, performing this or performing that — that these acts somehow make them holy; not only holy, but holier than someone else who hasn’t bothered to clean the outside of the cup and dish.
Cleaning the inside of the cup and dish is much trickier than we care to admit. And much harder than doing a quick spiff-up of the outside.
How do you rid yourself of lust, greed, self-hatred, hatred of others, anger, deceit, mean-spiritedness, and yes, hypocrisy?
Jesus says to clean the inside of yourself and then the outside will automatically be clean. He warns us not to put on a disguise but to become genuine from the inside out.
He tells us how to do this, too. He does not ask us to avoid this or that, do this or that — after all, He picked wheat on the Sabbath! Instead, He promises to reside inside us. By being inside us, He makes us clean — akin to having an automatic dishwasher inside our hearts!
This automatic dishwasher is God, the Holy Spirit. He gently but persistently reminds us that the most important matters of the Law — the Law Christ fulfilled by His Life and Death and Resurrection — are “justice, mercy, and faithfulness.”
I love how Jesus Christ links the three, making them one in Him.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Jesus tells us to let our light shine in a manner before people that they will notice. We are to perform good works which I interpret as works of kindness to others. Our kindnesses should be polite, considerate, generous, loving and done publicly so that people will take notice. But when they notice us, we ought to remind them that we are no better than they are; that our ability to behave in a kind manner — even when we are treated unkindly — is strictly due to the Light within us. That Light is Jesus.
If we shine properly, those who notice us will eventually realize we are not normal human beings, that something is different about us. And they will realize the difference in us is the Holy Spirit and they will glorify God.