So, once again, let’s pick up the story viewed through the ‘spectacles’ of Luke. In the other two synoptic Gospels at this point, Jesus speaks from Psalm 22: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ In Luke, it is Psalm 31 that is emphasised: ‘Father, into your hands, I commend my Spirit.’ Both psalms end on a note of confidence, trust and victory. Interestingly, in a way that ties all the Gospels together Psalm 31:22 echoes Ps 22:1 by saying, ‘In my alarm I said “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.’ I love the way in which Jesus’ very real sense of separation from God is almost immediately chased down by a knowledge of being heard and loved.
In our times of ‘separation’ experience the gap may be or seem longer – but the reality is as close – we are still heard and we are still loved even though we may feel abandoned. Hold on for help is coming. Don’t despair for joy will come in the morning. Even death is swallowed up in victory. As part of the Covid-19 generation this is our greatest shout of triumph: this is our time to declare that in the person of Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the Life, we can be assured that we shall rise again. It should enable us to stand in the place of fear and propel us to be in the riskiest, darkest, most dangerous places – alongside the suffering, the sick and the dying. Being wise – of course; taking precautions – of course; taking risks – of course. For we are the community of the ransomed, the redeemed and the raised.
There are some other small but distinctive nuances in Luke’s account. Note the centurion’s declaration of the innocence of Jesus; the crowd’s instinctive sense of wrongdoing, the way the women are reported as ‘remembering’ Jesus words about being ‘handed over to sinners, crucified and on the third day rise again.’ But the other major emphasis in this passage is on the women who first discover the empty tomb and the response to their message that Jesus is risen. It seems like an idle tale and they are not believed. Well, that’s encouraging! These are the ‘Eleven’ – been with Jesus for three years, sat at his feet, listening to his teaching, experiencing the wonders of God, seeing the works of God, receiving the presence of God. Yet, so slow to believe.
Be patient with those who see our faith as merely ‘an idle tale’; and take heart yourself, for ‘blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’