“But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”
This is probably how the story should end. A few women-those eccentric, emotional, unreliable witnesses-tell the faithful 11 that they have gone to the tomb and that there is no body, and in fact there was a messenger who reminded the women that this is precisely what Jesus said would happen. But, like they do today, the words seemed like an idle tale, not the sort of tale you actually believe in.
Bob pointed out that the language used in Luke to describe the disciple’s reaction, Idle Tale, is a little tame. More likely, the disciples thought the women were selling a load of wishful BS. More likely a fool’s story than the actual state of things. But something about the idle tale of the three women gave Peter pause. Something about the idle tale that the women were weaving sounded almost too good not to be true. Peter leans in to the women’s fantastical tale because it had something of Jesus’ own words running through them.
Today the words may strike us the same way. Some believe the tale of the women that Easter morning. Some believe it enough for it to count as faith. Others cannot bring themselves to believe a resurrection happened. Others have no patience for these sorts of stories. If the words seem an idle tale to you, that’s fine. I can’t blame you. The disciples thought the same thing. In fact, if you’ve never thought to yourself, “Hmmm…isn’t it more likely that this is an idle tale?” then maybe you’ve never really thought through the Easter claim: that a dead man did not stay dead.
Peter sprints off towards the tomb to see for himself. The words of the women seemed like an idle tale, but there was a glint of truth in their telling. The words of Mary, Joanna, and the other Mary, that idle tale of the women on Easter morning came to be called the gospel. And in a matter of days, it would be all the disciples would talk about.
Our Easter prayer is to have the courage of the women, and if we can’t afford that, then maybe at least the curiosity of Peter.
The good news is improbable, and I don’t blame you for calling it a fool’s fantasy. Frederick Beuchner puts it this way, “Maybe the truth of it is that it’s too good not to be true.”