Friday, April 6, 2012

Fearless Faith

Holy Week is a wonderful week. It's wonderful and horrible at the same time. The preparation and celebration of Easter is such a joy. The miserable reflection on our own corrupted natures that led to Good Friday is a crushing blow. Think you're doing ok on the road of life? Think you're a pretty good person? One dimly-lit evening tenebrae service will squash all notions of self-righteousness. The crash at the end of the service is the weight of your sin sealing Jesus' tomb.

I think it's a healthy thing to dwell upon the sorrow a bit. Can you really experience the full joy of Easter and rejoice in the generous grace of God if you don't understand how filthy and undeserving you are?

Anyway, I find it amazing that I can read the same gospels every year, the same story of Christ's death and resurrection, but have something in the scripture touch me in a new way each year.

This year, I'm struck by the faith of the Marys. (Mark 16:1-8) Mary Magdalene, and Mary mother of James wanted to finish anointing Jesus' body for burial. The timing of His death necessitated a hasty and incomplete burial process. Jesus died on Friday, right before the start of the Jewish sabbath. Work was forbidden. And preparing a body for burial was work. So as soon as was possible to go to the tomb, Sunday morning, they did. They knew the tomb was sealed. They knew they would not be able to move the giant stone in front of the tomb by themselves. But they wanted to anoint Jesus' body with spices and oils. So they went.

That is amazing faith. They knew that their task would be hard. In fact, they weren't quite sure how they would do it. They just knew they needed to do it. So they went.

I like to think that their fearless faith was rewarded by being the first people to hear the news that Jesus had risen. Well, the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb knew, but the earthquake and sight of Jesus and the angels left them catatonic and mute on the ground. So it was the women who had the privilege to spread the good news first.

Ah, to have such a fearless faith!
I wilt in the face of adversity and uncertainty. Those women surely knew that they could be mocked or punished for attempting to open the tomb. That would be enough for me to turn back.

But perhaps that's why they're in the Bible. They're a reminder that, when His work is being done, God will make it happen. And frequently in ways we can't predict. I suspect the women were calculating how many strong men, how much rope, and what special tools would be required to get the stone rolled away. I doubt the idea of "stone-rolling earthquake" even crossed their minds.

So as we prepare for the joyful season of Easter, I pray that I might not stop marveling, and may also have the fearless faith of the Marys.


  1. Beautifully written. The Easter story becomes so much more poignant when explaining it to a 4 and 3 year old. The hows and whys are revealing of our depth of failure and the unyielding grace that allows us the opportunity to share the Good News with our children.

    1. It's no wonder that many people start attending church after they have kids. Explaining what you do and why really helps you examine your faith and dig deep into what you believe. Hearing the girls retell what they learn in Sunday School and answering their questions helps reveal how simple yet how profound the story of Jesus is. If only we could have their faith and certainty all the time!