Have you ever noticed how matter-of-fact Risen Jesus is with those who first encounter him? He says to the women in Matthew, “Greetings!” As if every day one runs into their formerly dead friend. In Luke, he asks the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “What are you discussing with each other as you walk along?” A sort of, “Hey, what’s up?” kind of question.
The seemingly insensitive question is directed at Mary Magdalene in John, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
“Well, you see, the person I loved most was tortured and murdered just a few days ago. How dare you ask me why I am weeping?”
Of course, in Mark, we get nothing. Left with terror, amazement, fear and silence, all we can do is flip to another Gospel if we want to hear from our risen Lord.
Each Gospel account of the resurrected Jesus is paradigmatic of seasons of discipleship. Sometimes Jesus comes out of nowhere and surprises us with his presence, life appearing just a rolled stone away from the repository of death. Sometimes he walks alongside of us without us even knowing he is there, realizing only in hindsight that our hearts had burned within us all along the journey. Other seasons are marked by terrifying absence, no word at all from the One we need to hear from the most. And aren’t there occasions when all we can do is weep, wondering how anyone dare question our overwhelming grief?
Post-Easter Jesus may be matter-of-fact, but we, on the other hand, muddle through this era of already-not-yet with a mixture of shock, fear, grief and, thanks be to God, worship and joy, too. The Risen Christ offers peace, but then sends us to Galilee and to make disciples and to feed his sheep. In the messiness of those marching orders we are going to need the peace that passes understanding. The realities of this mission will no doubt make us want to weep. Our ability to stay the course will come only with close attention to Scripture and frequent gatherings around the table with friends and with our Master.
Remaining behind locked doors is not an option for disciples of Jesus Christ. Staying and clinging to the Risen Savior is not our role. Weeping at the graveyard must come to an end. Remaining silent? That would be unfaithful in the long run. We’ve got to go to Galilee and the ends of the earth: To make disciples. To teach. To tell, feed and tend. When we go, we will discover a lot that will cause us to weep: parents of young children with cancer, teenagers who’ve been refugees their entire lives, innocent people wrongly imprisoned and executed. When we witness these things we must not remain in terrified silence. We must go and tell all the more, all the louder, to our brothers and sisters and the whole world. Like the persistent woman to that uncaring judge, never shutting up until justice is done.
The Risen Christ’s matter-of-fact first words give way to explicit resurrection instructions. Go. Tell. Make disciples. Baptize. Teach all I have commanded. Feed and tend. Leave the graveyard and the locked room and hit the streets.
Follow Jesus’ resurrection instructions that come with resurrection power and promise, so that the world will know cruelty and death won’t have the last word.
We must remember not only our Risen Lord’s first words to those who love him, but also his last ones:
“Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
“See, I am sending upon you what the Father promised; So stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
As we follow we may be suddenly surprised by Jesus’ presence or oblivious to it until we break bread together or even offended that he won’t just let us alone in our grief, but we can be confident that in Galilee, and to the ends of the earth and the age, the Risen Christ is with us offering his presence, his peace, his power and his promise. We’ve been given our instructions, now is the time to go.
Grace and peace,