“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Mark 16, verses 6-7.
God does for us what we can’t do for ourselves. This week after Easter, that’s good to remember. That can be difficult as the church year goes on because it’s a few weeks until Pentecost, then a long, long span until the next big event, which is Advent in December.
Really? Yep. I mean, who besides those wrapped up in ‘churchy stuff’ follows that kind of thing these days? You’d be surprised: there are millions who do. Such things still matter; very much, in fact. And during the summer, when the sun is shining and there are fun things to do, it becomes so easy for us to let our faith in Jesus get stale. Today, when the feeling of being with a bunch of like-minded believers is fresh, it’s easy to feel great about God. In a few months, that feeling will wane and it’ll be easier to slip into the groove of “it’s all about me.”
Before that happens, notice that the first person to tell humanity about the resurrection isn’t a person at all. It’s an angel; it’s a supernatural being. The first person to speak to humanity was supernatural (God Himself). The first person to speak to Mary when she learned she would be a mother was supernatural, the angel Gabriel (who had also spoken to the prophet Daniel centuries before). And the first person to speak to believers after Jesus resurrected was another angel, this one unidentified.
What was the believers’ reaction? Fear. Sure, it’s understandable that these humble, mild women would be afraid. It was, after all, an extraordinary thing. Don’t forget that the other men and women who had been closest to Jesus were in hiding, afraid of what the Sanhedrin might do. If the priests were bold enough to take out Jesus, it wouldn’t be a stretch for them to take out Jesus’ inner circle. Indeed, it was a courageous thing for these women to even show their faces yet they did so early in the morning, before the rest of the city was stirring. Is it surprising that they would be afraid when confronted by the angel?
But that fear is telling. It’s our reaction today. 9/11 attacks? We were afraid. The (almost weekly) terrorist homicide, random shooting, or heinous crime in Chicago? Fear. Truly polarizing candidates trying to prey on our fears of what ‘the other guy’ will do to the Republic? They get away with it because we let those fears seem real. It’s almost as if fear is wired into our psyches.
Hence, God reaches out to us to grab our attention. He does this because we can’t. We’re paralyzed by our fears; we’re paralyzed by our sins. When faith is stale, God shakes us up. In the past, He used the supernatural to crash into our so-called natural world. Many – myself included – say He still does so today. He does it to do what we can’t, to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves. Namely, to save us…like He did on Easter Sunday. Millions of people desperately need it.
Lord, thank You for doing what I can’t, for saving me, for giving me so much better than I deserve.
Read Mark 16, verses 9-20.