Common Storylines

We recently celebrated Easter.  Here’s a reflection from Mark 16.  While this story is extraordinary, it contains common storylines for those who encounter God.

Common Storyline #1: The unexpected happens

Mary, the other Mary, and Salome are walking to the tomb to anoint Jesus’s body. They ask the question, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”  The question sets up the drama. They are not expecting a miracle. They are not anticipating a resurrection.

They know the stone is large. They know the stone is heavy. They think they are going to have to move the stone in their own strength.  You’ve never asked a question about rolling away a stone from the entrance of a tomb but I’m sure you’ve asked plenty of questions about the stones life puts in your path:

How am I going to raise my children?

How am I going to make it financially?

How am I going break the grip of addiction, pain, anger, worry, sin?

You know the stone is large. You know the stone is heavy.

Mary, the other Mary, and Salome ask “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But then they look up. The stone had been rolled away. What they could not do in their own strength had been done for them by the power of God.  They were not expecting a miracle. But they received one.

I’ve been at this long enough to know that when you encounter God, “I did not see that coming” becomes a familiar phrase.

Common Storyline #2: The impossible becomes reality

Mary, the other Mary, and Salome were on the way to the tomb to anoint Jesus body. They expected to find the lifeless body of Jesus but God turned the impossible into a reality.

Three days before Jesus had been beaten, mocked, spat upon, and hung on a cross. After the torture and humiliation Jesus cried out in a loud voice and breathed his last. The preceding chapter of Mark names Mary, the other Mary, and Salome as witnesses to the death of our Lord and Savior. The preceding chapter also tells us that Mary and the other Mary witnessed Jesus’ body pulled from the cross and laid in a tomb.

They arrived the first Easter morning expecting to find a body but found an angelic messenger. The young man in a white robe announced, “He has risen. He is not here.”

You’ve never arrived at a tomb expecting to anoint the body of Jesus but I’m sure you’ve arrived at plenty of situations in which you deemed a positive outcome as impossible:

That could never happen!

Oh, there’s no way!

I just don’t see how!

There’s no way out!

You know the odds are not in your favor. You know the forecast is cloudy.

Yet, “He is risen” is a victory chant proclaiming the dead has come alive, evil has been defeated, the chains of sin have been broken, the impossible has become reality.

I’ve been at this long enough to know that when you encounter God, “I did not see that coming” becomes a familiar phrase.

Common Storyline #3: There is a mission to be accomplished.

Mary, the other Mary, and Salome do not get to sit back and relax after this experience. They are not invited to merely be spectators. Rather, they are expected to be active participants. There is a mission to be accomplished: “Go!” They are commissioned to be preachers of the resurrection. They are now equipped to be proclaimers of Good News. They are now sent to turn the followers of Jesus from mourners to rejoicers (not a word but I like it).

The mission is to tell the world that the crucified One is now alive. The mission is to preach the message of new life.

Common Storyline #4: Obedience or Disobedience

This is the hard part of pastoral ministry. I get a good glimpse at both.

Mary, the other Mary, and Salome end our passages silent and afraid. Yet, we know they don’t remain that way.  They eventually shared the message of the resurrection and the message has been changing lives ever since.

What about you? Will you receive the message of the resurrection? Will you be a preacher of new life?

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