Friday, April 28, 2006

Easter Surprise

Most of us love stories with surprises. The women in Mark 16: 1-8 were in for a few surprises themselves. They went to the tomb that early Sunday morning bringing spices to anoint Jesus’ body worrying about the stone blocking the tomb. Unlike many doors here in Sweden—with its specific locks and numeric codes—the women had no key to unlock the door.

The women expected a locked tomb, they expected a dead body inside, and they expected to use the spices they brought to anoint that dead body. But, and we all know this already, when they got there the stone had already been rolled away, the tomb was empty, there was no dead body to anoint—Jesus was not where they expected him to be.

Like the women at the tomb, we want Jesus in a box, with a lock, where we could do whatever we want to do with him. Moreover, like the women we expect Jesus to be in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is supposed to be a holy place. It is where God is supposed to be. It is a monument to faith and the faithful. Do not forget this—the women went to the tomb expecting a dead Jesus. Over and over in the Markan story, especially in chapters 8, 9 and 10, Jesus told his followers that he will rise to life. Jesus’ followers did not believe him. They went to the tomb to visit a dead person.

Dead people have no power over us. Sure we visit their graves once or twice a year. For many Christians, churches have become tombs—where they visit Jesus an hour or two once a week. A dead Jesus has no power over us; he cannot make demands on our lives, on our work, on our time, our talents, our treasures, our plans and commitments. A dead Jesus is a safe Jesus.

But alas, Jesus is not dead and he is not where we want him to be. He is risen. And he is not in heaven nor is he in Jerusalem. He is back in Galilee—where we don’t want him to be, among the sick, the poor, the demon-possessed, the marginalized. He is back in Galilee along the path that ultimately led to his crucifixion, along the path that ultimately led to the offering of his life.

And he is already there waiting for us.

Do we have the faith and the heart to go and meet Jesus in Galilee. Do we?

(Based on Meditation shared 19 April 2006 at Teologiska Högskolan Stockholm, Sweden)