Exegetical resources

Narrative Lectionary: Perplexed, Fearful, and Amazed (Luke 24:1-12)

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Link to the text:;NIV;NLT;GNT;MSG

While most versions title this pericope “Jesus’ Resurrection,” this is a Monday-morning quarterback viewpoint. The Message more accuratelycalls this “Looking for the Living One in a Cemetery.”The women are looking for Jesus’ body to finish what they couldn’t before the Sabbath. They find the body gone and they are “perplexed” (NRSV). This sounds like a puzzle that leads to reasoned consideration in an easy chair with your pointer finger by your mouth, but the Greek means they are thoroughly perplexed and at a complete loss.

While in this state, the women are confronted by two men in blindingly white, glowing clothing. Like all meetings between humans and God’s messengers, the encounter makes them afraid. They bow down, and the two messengers remind them how Jesus spoke of his resurrection. And the women remember Jesus’ words. The women then tell those words to the disciples. The term for the “words” of Jesus and the “words” of the women about their encounter is the same (rhema, v.8 and v.11). Thus, the Greek appears to indicate that the women used the same words as the two messengers did–that they spoke as Jesus spoke and they tell what Jesus had said.

The reactions of the women and the disciples are, of course, quite different. The women appear to believe the messengers, going forward to share this nascent Good News. The text specifically reports that the disciples do not believe the women, thinking their words (rhema) an idle tale. This disbelief is in accord with the legal and cultural norms of biblical times when women were not accepted as witnesses in court and life.

In this part of Luke 24, there are not as yet any eyewitnesses to the risen Christ himself.  Jesus does not appear to anyone. The eyewitnesses have only, as of now, beheld the absence of Jesus’ body. The women find that the body missing and are perplexed. Peter finds the graveclothes empty and is amazed. What we have are eyewitnesses to the sharing of the news. We have messengers (the two men and the women). We have the word of the two messengers reminding the women of Jesus’ words. We have the word of the women telling the disciples what happened. What we have is words about the Word.

This is in some ways just the beginning of the story. The Word is told, it is shared, before it is experienced. It is heard before it is understood. Jesus’ followers have been told the Good News; and shortly they will see and experience the resurrected Jesus themselves. They have been telling Good News and soon they will be living into (but not solving) the mystery of the resurrected life, of new life. But in this passage, the words predicting and proclaiming the resurrection and the absence of the body are what they have.  

Since the Resurrection, we too are witnesses who share words about the Word. Since the Ascension, while believing in the Resurrection, we too are witnesses to an “absent” Jesus with regard to his body.  In the Church, we live out the words about the Word through the preaching of the Word. In the Church, we participate in the absent, ascended, resurrected Jesus through sharing in the body of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.  And, in the world, we live out our witness to the Word and to the resurrected Christ by speaking of God’s selfless love and by acting in selfless love as the body of Christ.


This year’s Working Preacher commentary is at Further WP commentaries on this text can be found at

For other ways of looking/thinking about this passage (themes with links expounding on them), see


  1. What does it mean to look for the living among the dead?
  2. How do we use Jesus’ words when we tell the Good News?
  3. Where do we see legal and cultural disbelief of groups of people today?
  4. What does it mean that Jesus’ body is absent but present?
  5. What are the next steps in our own journey to knowing the resurrected Jesus?
  6. How can the church more fully witness to that journey?

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Barb Hedges-Goettl is a Presbyterian pastor and liturgical scholar recently moved to Rehoboth Beach, DE. She works with middle school special ed students in between writing liturgy, spending time with her husband Len, and training their new puppy, Cocoa.


Summer Hebrews Series #5: Hebrews 11:1-16 [12:1-2; Matthew 8:5-10] for Narrative Lectionary (August 11, 2019?)

This week’s NL resources are a bit more “down-and-dirty” and less elaborated than usual. Vacation and one Sunday off due to heat (our two sanctuary window air conditioners were not going to be up to the 105 heat index that Sunday, especially with our older folks) means we are out of rhythm on our own use of the NL, but I am striving to keep these resources up-to-date for those using them.

We will not be providing resources for any of the three-week mini-series listed for NL for the tail end of the summer. Instead, we will move right into the Genesis cycle. The first set of these should be posted by mid-August.

Prayer of Confession from Hebrews 12:1-2                                                            

Call to worship from Hebrews 11-12                                                                                

Prayer of petition from Hebrews 11                                                                                      

How to pray the Scriptures; prayer based on Hebrews 11:1

Prayer for Discipline (Hebrews 12)

Service based on Hebrews 11:1-12:2 from Calvin Worship Symposium

An order of worship around Hebrews 11: “With Every Good Thing Series – The Wonder of the Nature of Faith: David, Jesus and Hebrews 11” Also Calvin Worship Symposium

My own original liturgical pieces are now posted here (Opening Prayer, Call to Worship, Rite of Confession, Confession of Faith):!AuB3z496aTHTgaojI6BKhg7nNHbmlA


Hebrews 11:1 Badgers were cheering the winning Brewers while at the (losing) Badgers game.

Hebrews 12:1 One of the myriad examples of persevering in a footrace; others in the news depict runners helping others over the finish line.

Harry and Lily Potter appear in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire due to priori incantatem, the linking of Harry’s and Voldemort’s wands, and stand by Harry as he battles as his cloud of witnesses.



Having faith in God even when we can’t see him

Trust as the theme of the children’s sermon

Using the book The Little Prince to illustrate faith as an invisible thing that shapes our lives

The storybook of Faith the Cow tells of the faith-filled founding of Heifer International

Object lesson using things that work in ways we cannot see/understand as a metaphor for faith


Hebrews 11

Hebrews 12


Runner by Twila Paris


From the blue Presbyterian Hymnal:

Hebrews 11.1–12.13
117.6 O Sons and Daughters, Let Us Sing!
129.2 Come, O Spirit, Dwell Among Us
145.3 Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart!
146.3 Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart!
157.2 Our King and Our Sovereign, Lord Jesus
250.1 When Morning Lights the Eastern Skies
253.2 I’ll Praise My Maker
260 A Mighty Fortress is Our God
262.4 God of the Ages, Whose Almighty Hand
265 Great God, We Sing That Mighty Hand
269 O God of Bethel, by Whose Hand
275 God of Our Life
280.3+4 Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound
281 Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
282.3 If Thou but Trust in God to Guide Thee
286 Give to the Winds Thy Fears
301 Lord Jesus, Think on Me
307 Fight the Good Fight
339 Be Thou My Vision
341 Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine!
342 By Gracious Powers
348.3 Christian Women, Christian Men
354 Guide My Feet
360 Hope of the World
361 How Firm a Foundation
363 I Want Jesus to Walk with Me
364 I Sing a Song of the Saints of God
376.2 Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
388 O Jesus, I Have Promised
389 O Jesus, I Have Promised
390.6 O Savior, in This Quiet Place
399 We Walk by Faith and Not by Sight
419.3+4 How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord
442.5 The Church’s One Foundation
457.5 I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art
462.3 Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies
463.3 Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies
464.3 Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
470 O Day of Radiant Gladness
483 Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above
512.1 Living Word of God Eternal
522.2-4 Lord, When I Came Into This Life
526 For All the Saints
528.2 Give Thanks for Life
538 Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing
185.6 Psalm 33
288 I Sing the Mighty Power of God
469.1 Morning Has Broken
160.3 Psalm 4
212.4 Within Your Shelter, Loving God
251.3 Your Faithfulness, O Lord, Is Sure
295.3 O God of Love, O God of Peace
333.2 Seek Ye First
320 Hebrews
362 I Love the Lord, Who Heard My Cry
489 Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty
186 Thy Mercy and Thy Truth, O Lord
205.4 All Hail to God’s Anointed
209.1 My Song Forever Shall Record
219.2 To God Compose a Song of Joy
227.3 Not Unto Us, O Lord of Heaven
251 Your Faithfulness, O Lord, Is Sure
276 Great Is Thy Faithfulness
600.5 Song of Mary (Magnificat)
149.4+5 The Head That Once Was Crowned
269.4 O God of Bethel, by Whose Hand
275.3 God of Our Life
301.4 Lord Jesus, Think on Me
337 Isaiah the Prophet Has Written of Old
388.4 O Jesus, I Have Promised
389.4 O Jesus, I Have Promised
431.1 O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John
433.1 There’s a Spirit in the Air
450 O Day of Peace
453.1 O Holy City, Seen of John
73.3 Swiftly Pass the Clouds of Glory
86 When We Are Tempted to Deny Your Son
149.4+5 The Head That Once Was Crowned
260.4 A Mighty Fortress is Our God
277 O God, Our Faithful God
333.1 Seek Ye First
334 When Israel Was in Egypt’s Land
393 Take Up Your Cross, the Savior Said
420 God of Grace and God of Glory
114.1 Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain
115.1 Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain
494.3 Out of Deep, Unordered Water
73.3 Swiftly Pass the Clouds of Glory
86 When We Are Tempted to Deny Your Son
404 Precious Lord, Take My Hand
10.2 On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry
11.1 O Lord, How Shall I Meet You?
79 Kind Maker of the World
248.5 You Are Before Me, Lord
249.4 O Lord, Make Haste to Hear My Cry
277.1 O God, Our Faithful God
301 Lord Jesus, Think on Me
313 Come Down, O Love Divine
333.1 Seek Ye First
335.3 Though I May Speak
354 Guide My Feet
366 Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me
376.2 Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
466.3 O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
526 For All the Saints
35.5 In Bethlehem a Newborn Boy
76.3+4 My Song Is Love Unknown
78 Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed
80 Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley
81 Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days
84 In the Cross of Christ I Glory
95 He Never Said a Mumbalin’ Word
96 Calvary
97 Go to Dark Gethsemane
102 Were You There?
110.1 Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands
141 A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing
148.2+3 At the Name of Jesus
149 The Head That Once Was Crowned
157 Our King and Our Sovereign, Lord Jesus
344 Christ of the Upward Way
360.3+4 Hope of the World
365.1 Jesus, Priceless Treasure
383 My Faith Looks Up to Thee
393.3+4 Take Up Your Cross, the Savior Said
419.4 How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord
447 Lead On, O King Eternal
448 Lead On, O King Eternal
566 Glory to God in the Highest (Gloria in Excelsis)
575.6 Glory to God in the Highest (Gloria in Excelsis)



Narrative Lectionary commentary on this passage-the power of the Word to evoke faith.

NL Podcast on this passage; apparently addresses the whole book/series. Hebrews 11-12 begins just after minute 15.

The role of those who went before/all saints                                            

Pulpit Fiction: Seeing and Living the Faith from Working Preacher


Sermon by Rev. Anrew Ladwehr from the time of Watergate -Faith: The Unseen Power

Faith Amid the Fog

Audio of Bishop Robert Barron’s sermon from 2003: The “Leap” of Faith          


Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 is in the RCL for Proper 14C/Ordinary 19C; see for

Hebrews 11:29-12:2 is in the RCL for Proper 5C/Ordinary 20C and Holy Week Monday

Working Preacher (RCL) Hebrews 11’s 2 statements about faith:

Working Preacher (RCL) Hebrews 11’s “honors list”                                                    


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