No Nonsense

“It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the disciples what had happened. But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it.”  —  Luke 24:10-11

Gladys Aylward was a diminutive servant girl, poorly educated and lacking any marketable skills apart from the ability to do menial work. But she believed God had called her to be a missionary to China. So she made application to a mission board that was looking for potential recruits, was interviewed, and was summarily rejected.

The august body who considered her and dismissed her made little attempt to hide their amazement that such an unsuitable young woman should think for a moment that they would be interested in sending her to China as a representative of Christ! Unperturbed, Gladys purchased a train ticket across Russia and Siberia, and after enough adventures to fill a travelogue, she finally arrived in China and embarked on a singularly effective missionary career characterized by untiring service and unbounded courage. The board may have dismissed her, but she was right about her calling!

“Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several others” (Luke 24:10) would have understood Miss Aylward’s experience with the mission board. They, too, stood before an august body, the apostles, and reported what they had seen and been told. They had been to the tomb of Jesus that morning, wondering how they would be able to move the stone guarding the entrance.

On arrival, they discovered the stone already moved aside, the tomb empty, and the body gone. Deeply puzzled and distressed, the women were startled by angels, who asked them, “Why are you looking in a tomb for someone who is alive?” (24:5). The angels reminded them that Jesus had repeatedly predicted that he would rise again from the dead, and they informed the women that that was precisely what had taken place.

The women understandably rushed back to “tell his eleven disciples–and everybody else–what had happened” (24:9), only to be unceremoniously rebuffed! To the apostles, their “story sounded like nonsense, so they didn’t believe it” (24:11). Never mind that the disciples who had fled the scene were hardly in a position to criticize the women who had shown considerable courage and concern. But the women were right!

There is a danger in dismissing as nonsense what we do not understand. There is great arrogance in dismissing as irrelevant the sincere testimony of a brother or sister whose experience differs from our own. It is too easy to dismiss what we will not take the trouble to discover.

Peter, however, quietly slipped out of the room and ran to the tomb to see for himself. It’s a good thing he did. In seeing the empty tomb, he began to rethink his position and, ultimately, he met the risen Lord (24:34).

As Peter discovered, it makes no sense to dismiss as nonsense what doesn’t at first make sense. Instead, it makes sense to listen to what others say and see how it could make sense. That’s common sense!

We should stay immersed in the Word of God so that truth will so impact our lives that we will recognize it in the message of others. In doing this, we will also recognize error when it comes.


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