Be Astonished! The Work is Finished!

“Joseph of Arimathea… asked for the body of Jesus. Taking him down, [he] wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid… 

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb… And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe… And he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them.” Mark 15:43,46-47; 16:1-8

A plethora of emotions had gripped these devoted followers of Jesus for days. Their eyes had stung watching the horrid crucifixion, and been enshrouded by the hours of daytime darkness. Their ears and hearts had been pierced by the cruel mocking, Jesus’s final cry, and the centurion’s exclamation of belief. With a surge of sorrow at the finality of His death, they longed to anoint His lifeless body with spices, to gently lavish their love on the one Who had been so tender to them. But this was not to be. (Mark 15:21-41; Luke 8:1-2)

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What the angel announced penetrated the women’s trepidation, and should be our own everyday mantra: ‘Jesus is no longer dead. He’s not to be gently stroked on the cross, or pitied in the grave. He is risen, His work is finished, and He lives for me that I can live for Him!’ The power of the resurrection moves us from heaviness to astonishment, weeping to praising, regret to gratitude, sentimental affection to humbled, amazed love.

Have I allowed a mindset creep that Jesus was a victim, in need of my help and comfort? That I am the real savior– of myself, my children, my turbulent situations? Would I instead approach the empty cross and tomb and marvel at so tremendous a love, so bold a control of every breath, and such unimaginable a resurrection power that I would relinquish self-drive, and allow Jesus to comfort and embolden me? Would I confess any expectations I hold, and ways I behave, that suppose He exists to serve me, and instead ask how I can serve Him?

The finished work of Christ frees me from the burden of self-serving sin to live unfettered for my Risen King. What difference is it making in my outlook and activities? Applying this freedom to serve Him and others brings joyful trembling and astonishment at the privilege. (Galatians 5:13)

Savior, may the empty tomb fuel my astonishment that You would die and rise for me, and daily resurrect my love for You and others.

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