Expectations Interrupted - Mark 16:1-8
Friday morning I was at Best Buy standing there, lost in deep thought, debating a purchase I was considering. Suddenly someone said, “Do you need any help?” I near about jumped out of my skin. I wasn’t expecting someone to speak to me, much less someone to be standing there because I had not seen them walk up. How many times has something like that happened to us? We are somewhere, and suddenly we are startled because someone has quietly moved into our area and we were didn’t notice. They speak and we jump, our heart starts pounding, and we might even find ourselves at a loss for words.
It is kind of like a child playing with a “jack-in-the-box” for the first time. They are there turning the handle, making the music play as they turn it round and round, and they are just enjoying the music. All they expect to hear is the music as they wind the handle. Then suddenly their expectations are shattered, the lid pops open, and out pops the little clown, or whatever “jack” is hiding in the box. Some kids laugh, some cry, almost all of them “jump,” and it is not just little kids that “jump,” I’ve watched adults, who have seen jack-in-the-boxes for years almost hit the ceiling when “jack” pops out.
Shock, surprise, fear…those kind of things happen when surprises occur, when our expectations are interrupted.
That was probably how it was for Mary, Mary, and Salome there at the tomb. Think about it. They had watched their friend be put to death. Jesus’ wrists and ankles had been nailed to a cross. They had watched him hang there on that Friday afternoon. They watched the soldiers break the legs of the two thieves to hasten their death, but Jesus had already given up the fight…yet a soldier had pierced his side, just to make sure that he was dead. They had found out from some of the other disciples that Joseph and Nicodemus had taken his body and laid it in Joseph’s garden tomb. While some were sure that Joe and Nick had prepared the body properly for burial, these women weren’t too sure. They knew how men were, doing just enough to be able to say they had done it, so they had come to the tomb. They wanted to make sure their friend was taken care of properly, so they brought the spices and approached the tomb.
As they approached the tomb, one of the women voiced a concern over something they had completely forgotten. Picture Salome turning to Mary Magdalene and say, “Hey, we forgot something. How are we going to get in to put these spices on Jesus? They have sealed his tomb with that big stone. We can’t move it, who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb? Suddenly they walked through the brush and into the clearing where the tomb was located…Expectation number one interrupted. They had expected a sealed tomb, the tomb was already open.
Unsure how the stone had been moved, the women cautiously entered, expecting to find Jesus body lying in the tomb. Yet entering the tomb, their expectations were interrupted again as they didn’t find a dead body, but instead a young man dressed in a white robe, sitting inside the tomb. Many translations, including the New Revised Standard that I read from say that upon seeing the man that the women were alarmed or afraid…however, they had to have been more than just alarmed…I kind of like how the King James puts it, it reads that the women were affrighted. It kind of sounds to me like a combination of afraid and frightened…kind of doubling the fear that women had to have been feeling.
The man, thought, tells them not to be alarmed, afraid, or affrightened. He says, you came in here looking for Jesus, expecting to find a dead man lying in this tomb, but He’s not here, He has risen…look, He was lying right here and He is gone.
How many times has God interrupted the expectation of the end in our lives. Times were we just thought everything was over…that this had to be the end for us. Maybe it was an illness…maybe it was the loss of a loved one…maybe it was the loss of a job…maybe the destruction of a marriage…maybe the loss of our retirement…maybe a pile of insurmountable bills…those times were we just knew it was over, we were done…
And yet, my brothers and sisters, to our surprise, we are still here…we are gathered here on this great and glorious morning…because God has interrupted the expectation of our end…the specter of death…and says…don’t be affrighted…it is not the end…I have life for You…because My Son lives, you can live…don’t expect anything to be the end of you…I have interrupted even death from having the final Word…with me, You will have life…In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.