Luke’s account of the resurrection begins with some of the women who followed Jesus discovering the empty tomb, being reminded that he had said that he would rise three days after his death, and then telling this to Jesus’ male followers: ‘But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them’ (Luke 24:11).
A literal translation of the Greek would be: ‘And appeared before them like folly the words of them, and they did not believe them.’
This turn of phrase is reminiscent of that employed by Luke’s friend Paul, writing to the believers in Corinth:
‘For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’
‘Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.’
(1 Corinthians 1:18-25)
Like Paul’s audience, Luke is writing with a predominantly Greek audience in mind. And to proclaim Jesus crucified, dead and buried, and risen again on the third day, is foolishness. Such words take on the appearance of foolishness. They are dressed in the foolishness of God, which is wiser than human wisdom. This is so from the very first proclamation.
It is foolish to believe what I believe, to proclaim what I proclaim. I am a fool. And, God help me, I must embrace that foolishness, or else I am to be pitied indeed.
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