Jesus Was No Stranger to Persistent Hope
Written by Molly Lorden
“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they 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.”
Luke 24: 1-10
Early in the morning, a group of women, including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and others, walked to the tomb where Jesus had been buried. I imagine them walking in silence, some of them with tears running down their cheeks, others in a daze. Their eyes are still adjusting to the morning light. One of them is carrying the spices they had prepared the night before, to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. As they approach the tomb, they see the stone rolled away. This, in and of itself, would be cause for alarm. Who had been there before them? They cautiously walk into the tomb and find it empty. What happens next would cause anyone to be terrified. Two men in dazzling clothes (AKA angels) stood beside them and began to speak to them. These heavenly beings remind the women what Jesus had told them about how he would rise again on the third day. Immediately after their conversation, the women return to the eleven disciples and tell them everything that had happened. Hallelujah! What terrific news!
Jesus was no stranger to persistent hope. Jesus taught these women, and his disciples, what it meant to persistently hope. To have hope is more than a wish. It involves knowledge of something true, that hasn’t happened yet. It’s not a premonition, or some special kind of revelation. It’s the hope we carry with us even when circumstances seem dire. It’s the hope that propels us forward in the face of uncertainty and fear. This is the kind of hope exhibited by the women that morning. It seemed as though everything was lost. Their Lord had been crucified. What would happen to them, his followers? Still, they faithfully went to the tomb to honor him by preparing his body for burial. Although none of them expected to find the tomb empty, I imagine them replaying Jesus’ words on the walk to the tomb. What did Jesus mean when he said he would rise again on the third day? Maybe it was this wondering which propelled them to go to the tomb that morning.
Palestinian and Israeli women are often the most overlooked, yet effective peacemakers. Women Wage Peace, an Israeli organization of women united across all traditional dividing lines—political, religious, ethnic, social, and geographic—was founded in the midst of deep despair and cynicism following the 2014 Gaza war. The goal of these women is to reach an honorable and bilaterally acceptable political agreement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a target date of 2018. They hope to do this by growing in diversity, pressuring the Israeli government to more proactively pursue peace, and increasing the number of women involved in the negotiations. These women persistently hope for an end to the conflict in their communities. When circumstances were grim, they took steps to change their communities.
In an article by Jennifer Lipman for The Jewish Chronicle, she writes,
Rather than endorsing a specific peace deal, they say trust-building must come first, between women across Israeli society and between Israelis and Palestinians. As [Huda] Abu Arqoub explains, that means changing the understanding of security “to a mutual need of everyone living in the conflict zone.” For too long, she says, security has been “a political position manipulated by fear and by views of the Other being the enemy,” with Israelis believing that Palestinian youth are being raised on hate. But when Israeli women meet Palestinian women like her, in situations engineered by Women Wage Peace, the conversation switches to mutual need. “This changes the whole concept of the Other.”
Women are powerful agents for change.
How are we, as Christians, called to persistently hope alongside these women who are actively seeking peace for their communities? First, we cling to the hope that this conflict will come to an end. We may not know when or how, but we trust that it will, and we take steps alongside those working for peace to make it so. We also recognize the unique abilities of women as powerful agents of change in their communities. We must not only support their efforts, but listen to their stories, and learn from them. And, propelling us forward, we remember our Lord, who fulfilled our hopes and rose again on the third day, even when all circumstances seemed dire and impossible. He is risen! Hallelujah!
Be with women in the Holy Land who are persistently hoping for an end to the conflict. Guide them as they work together to bring peace to their communities. Help us to learn from them, and to stand alongside them in persistent hope. Thank you for keeping true to your promise and rising again on the third day, fulfilling our hope.
In your holy name we pray, amen.
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Molly Lorden is the Church Engagement & Millennial Voices for Peace Intern at Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), and is currently studying toward a Master of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary.
CMEP is very thankful for the writers who contribute Spiritual Resources. However, CMEP does not necessarily agree with all the positions of our writers, and they do not speak on CMEP’s behalf.