Another narrative of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s interesting that the Lectionary framers carefully omitted some verses (47-49, 51, 54-56), but they also give the option of a shorter reading (in blue below). This narrative picks up where the good thief left off. What is distinctive about Luke’s account that you wouldn’t get in the other Gospels? Mainly one thing: instead of “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (from Psalm 22), Jesus utters a phrase from Psalm 31.
If at death, we are pleased to commend a believer to God, this is an act of faith in the face of grief. Perhaps the dying person was able to do this. Note, please, I don’t criticize those who hold on strongly–I just recognize that different families are at different places in the spiritual journey. If mourners are able to commend a person to God, then this might be a good reading to explore:
It was now about noon
and darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun.
Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”;
and when he had said this he breathed his last.
Now there was a virtuous and righteous man
named Joseph who,
though he was a member of the council,
he went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
After he had taken the body down,
he wrapped it in a linen cloth
and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb
in which no one had yet been buried.
But at daybreak on the first day of the week
the women took the spices they had prepared
and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb;
but when they entered,
they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were puzzling over this,
behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.
They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground.
They said to them,
“Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
He is not here,
but he has been raised.
The shorter option excises the Resurrection narrative here. Comparing with the other Gospels, Luke relating the “puzzling” is unique to him. A caution: I don’t endorse slotting a Scripture scholarship lecture in place of a homily. I mention Luke’s original content to distinguish from the other death and resurrection narratives in the funeral Lectionary.
If you use the long form reading, looking carefully at the women’s puzzlement might be good. Human beings are puzzled by mysteries. They poke our curiosity. And spiritual mysteries like the resurrection may ultimately lead us to God. And death is an appropriate time for us to engage God, to bring our grief, consternation, and our mortality. We can be puzzled. We won’t get all the answers in this life. But we can seek and receive the reassurance of grace.