“O … slow of heart to believe”

Today we completed reading Luke’s testimony of the life of our Lord Jesus. He also wrote the book of Acts. Luke was apparently not a Jew, he travelled with the Apostle Paul some of the time. Efforts to prove Luke’s writings, especially Acts, had factual errors of history in them have failed, indeed research convinced at least one sceptic that here was true history and he became a believer.

There is a danger that we are being dazzled by the intensity of life today with all its technological inventions, instant communications, etc. that the incredible events of 2,000 years ago start to seem remote and unreal. Yet, where is this world heading? Our world has no future, much of the world is in near chaos, politicians are at their wit’s end, the United Nations is a largely ineffective organisation, Syria is but one example of this. What about climate change?

In contrast the reality of Luke’s careful record of Christ’s life, death and resurrection and events after his ascension have a challenging sense of truth. He began his gospel by saying, that as others had written about the life of Jesus “it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (1:3,4).

The climax of this account, that we read today, is the overwhelming shock, and initial unbelief, that the faithless followers of Jesus experienced at the news of his resurrection. Several women came to the tomb very early to complete the anointing of his body and they encountered angels and “were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?’” (24:5).

These men (angels) said, “remember how he told you … And they remembered his words” (verses 6,8). As we read, let us ‘remember’! Verse 10 indicates that at least 5 women told “the eleven” (Judas Iscariot was now dead) of their experience, “but these words seemed to them an idle tale” (verses 9,11).

Later that day an unrecognised Jesus came up to two disciples walking to Emmaus. They told him of the women that had said they had “seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive” (verse 23) to which Jesus responds, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! … and he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (verses 25-27). Are we slow of heart to believe? Let us believe with such conviction that it puts real meaning into our lives. If we remain “slow of heart” and gain no spiritual vision we are really committing spiritual suicide and our fate will be in some ways comparable to that of Judas Iscariot.