As I listened to the Easter story from the Gospel of Mark in church on Sunday, I was struck by the final words of the passage:
So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. ~Mark 16:8
This ending of fear and trepidation isn’t in the other Gospel accounts. The women and disciples are told to not be afraid. They seem to believe rather quickly – they take the angel’s word for it and share the news with others.
But let’s be honest … doesn’t Mark’s account really encompass where we all are? If we’re really honest with ourselves, aren’t we all terrified of just what the Resurrection means?
It means Jesus is the real deal. God won over evil. Death couldn’t keep Jesus down. He is greater than that. This man wasn’t just a prophet … he was, and is, God. In the flesh.
And if Jesus is the real deal … God here on earth … well, that’s scary stuff.
It’s scary because following this man called Jesus requires quite a bit of sacrifice. If Jesus is God, we have clear commands from him on how to live our lives.
Love one another. Even your enemies.
Take care of the poor.
Feed the hungry.
Leave your possessions behind.
Lose your life.
These aren’t easy to do. In fact, they can be down right scary. Terrifying.
Have you ever gone to feed the hungry in the bad part of town?
Ever invited the homeless into your house for dinner?
Sold all your possessions and given the money to the church?
What about literally laying down your life for someone else?
I haven’t. To be honest, the thought of doing these things freaks me out a little.
But if the Resurrection is true, it proves Jesus was God’s son. It makes Jesus’ commandments a little more than just mere suggestions. If we really want to follow Jesus, we have to do some scary stuff.
It’s easy to call ourselves Christians – but when it gets right down to it … are we really followers of Jesus? Or is “Christian” just another way we define ourselves?
Now I’m not saying being Christian is all about what we do. In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite. God has freely given us the gift of his Son. That’s what’s so amazing about the Resurrection. It has already happened – no matter what we do (or don’t do). God has already won. Absolutely nothing is required of us.
And perhaps that’s precisely why it’s so terrifying. We’ve been given the best, most expensive, gift anyone could ever receive. Our response doesn’t come out of obligation, but out of gratitude. Out of love. And Jesus showed us just what true love meant.
I’m not sure why Mark chose to end his Gospel account this way. But it definitely hit home to me this week. Being a follower of Jesus is not all sugar and spice.
Loving my enemies is hard work … but it’s nothing compared to dying on a cross and rising again.
Feeding the hungry is exhausting … but it’s nothing compared to dying on a cross and rising again.
Taking care of the poor is a neverending task … but it’s nothing compared to dying on a cross and rising again.
Leaving my possessions behind is an inconvenience … but it’s nothing compared to dying on a cross and rising again.
Following Jesus is scary. Terrifying in fact. But we press on and do our best, trusting in the promise of the Resurrection. The promise that life in the Resurrection is so much better than the alternative. Because let’s face it … if God can beat death … then he can certainly help us through our fear.