Sunday, March 27, 2016

Fear Reigns, or Does It?

They sat huddled together in a locked room off the beaten path.  This handful of men usually moved with confidence through their world.  Along with a few women who were part of their inner circle, they were confused, possibly angry, without direction and frightened by recent events that tore their world apart.

These men and women were adrift and anchorless because their Jesus, the One Who was to deliver them from their enemies, had been brutally tortured, hanged on a cross, declared dead and was buried in a cave/tomb with what seemed to be an unmovable stone sealing the entrance.

My first thought was to be critical and shocked at their lack of understanding.  And then I was flooded with memories of the many times I also displayed a lack of trust in The One I proclaim as sovereign in my life.

There was that time I discovered a lump in my body where there shouldn’t be one.  I made an appointment to see my doctor but in the meantime…I worried.  I fretted.  I imagined the worst.  It turned out to be benign and life turned right side up again.  But, I had failed the test….the “trust test.”

Fear and anxiety indicate we have taken our eyes off Jesus.  It’s as though we have left Him in the tomb.  It’s a challenge to look beyond the moment.  Do we forget that the very next day the tomb was found EMPTY? 

Jesus had shared with them the entire plan.  Maybe the whole thing sounded so preposterous they couldn’t fathom it.  Or perhaps they just could not comprehend it all.  Undoubtedly a bit of disbelief crept in; after all they didn’t want Him to die – He was supposed to be their conquering King!

I’ve had my share of dark tunnel-like times:  multiple miscarriages, debilitating depression, divorce, unemployment.  I felt anchorless, as though God was nowhere to be found.  But that’s because I temporarily lost my spiritual compass and along with it, my hope.

I LOVE that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene, a woman!  Jesus had such a heart for the women of His time.  He treated them with respect, giving them a value the culture did not offer.  Mary Magdalene and Jesus had encountered one another often and she was bereft when He was killed.

The gospel of John tells us in chapter 20, “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”  So what did she immediately do?  She ran to tell Peter and John.  No doubt she was beside herself because she is quoted as saying, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

It’s not enough that Jesus was dead – now His body was missing!  Peter and John checked it out and sure enough the tomb was empty.  No body.  No Jesus.  They returned home with hearts that were burdened beyond belief.

I am SO thankful the story did not end there.  If it did, we would all be doomed for eternity; lost without hope.  BUT, as Mary stood by the tomb, weeping, the scene changed.  (Trumpet roll here!)  Mary saw angels and then her eyes took in Jesus.  (In Luke’s gospel the story includes other women with Mary.)  It took her a moment to realize it really was her beloved Jesus.  What joy!

What drama!  It has been said that real life is much more exciting than fiction.  The details of all Jesus did after busting out of the tomb can be read in the 4 gospel accounts.  Some of those details include appearing out of nowhere to His disciples, showing them His nail pierced wrists and eating real food.  Jesus ministered with and to many folks for 40 days before rejoining His Father in heaven.

Did I tell you I LOVE EASTER?!  Jesus conquered death; that tomb could NOT hold Him!  No more fear; no more anxiety; no more sleepless nights.  Christ is alive!

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