“Do not be alarmed … he is going ahead of you …”Mark 16:6-7
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome brought spices so that they might go and anoint the body of Jesus. They wondered, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the tomb?” This was their mentality and outlook as they went out early that day to attend to earthly matters.
Little did they know that God was already at work long before they knew a thing about it. For the stone was rolled away when they arrived. As soon as they entered the tomb a man dressed in a white robe alarmed them with good news, “Do not be alarmed, … [the One] you are looking for … has been raised, he is not here. See, the place where they laid him. But go, tell the disciples that he is going ahead of you to Galilee and you will see him there, just as he told you.”
God is always out in front. By definition of who God is we are followers of this risen One from the dead, as is indicated by the earliest reports as we have them in Mark’s gospel.
The expectations that our Lord Jesus raises for us, his followers, are distinct from the world. Where the world thinks about earthly matters of money, finances, organization and institution, maintenance first, God looks at the hearts of his people. Are they set on Christ first, are they obedient by faith and are they longing to be evangelists and preachers and promoters of his good news in all fields and walks of life?
Where humans fret on earthly church matters our risen Lord, whose lordship is over all things in heaven and earth, calls his followers to get a grip on the resurrection and new life given as pure gift that raises expectations beyond ho-hum predictable earthly organizational matters.
These expectations of Christ our Lord are not meant to diminish organizational work on behalf of God’s mission in and through churches, but put them in their proper place in a support role as it undergirds the more important goals of loving Jesus and neighbor, making known good news to all (especially those who are yet to claim him as their own), and rejecting the world’s definition of life as being too small and limited compared with the abundant life that arises from our Crucified, risen Savior.
Christ is risen! He has raised our expectations by giving us faith to trust his promises. If we are not called to be alarmed about Jesus being raised, then surely we are not called to be alarmed about earthly matters that support God’s efforts to reach a world in need. The only thing we should be alarmed about is looking at today’s challenges as his followers with pre-empty tomb expectations when God has raised our sight by overcoming the world.
Let us be excited as the women, and later, the men and children, who heard about the good news of a risen Savior and Lord out in front, changing the world by the alarming and earth-shaking promises of eternal life. God will always lead us by these high expectations of faith and trust, fear and love. Matters of the heart are where our Lord rules and makes all things new! This is most certainly true!
Come celebrate the truth of Christ’s resurrection and life for the world, Blessed Easter to you all.