Posted by: Bob Clark | November 5, 2007

Trembling and Bewildered

Based on the gospel of Mark

Mark 16:1-8
“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”‘

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”

Trembling and bewildered.

Why? I can’t say for sure.

But I can tell you that sometimes when I read the gospel I am left trembling and bewildered, because this story does not begin as I expected. The story does not unfold as I expected. The story does not end as I expected.

And following Jesus is not what I expected.

We expect to find meaning and purpose and happiness – and I suppose there is a sense in which Jesus offers that – but it surely isn’t what you hear packaged and sold as Christianity today. And it wasn’t what was being packaged and sold as Messiah in the first century.

What was packaged as Messiah in the first century and what is often marketed as Christianity today is – you are special, you are served by the church, you are powerful, you are a winner

That’s not the message of Mark. Mark is about a Messiah who is betrayed. And mocked. Mark is about a Messiah who dies. On a cross. Like a criminal. And the amazing twist is that before he tells you that Jesus dies he makes it clear that you understand Jesus has amazing power – He can heal the sick and kick out demons like you have never seen before. This Jesus who dies has the power to avoid this death, but he doesn’t.

And Mark teaches those who read how to be His disciple, how to be like Jesus. You carry a cross every day. You die. You relinquish whatever power you have and just like Jesus, you carry a cross.

Exactly how does this work?

1. You pick up your cross and follow Jesus when you recognize the least as the greatest (9:33 – 37, 42-50; 10:13-16)

It’s easy to be interested only in the cool, the wealthy, the powerful, those who can be used to our advantage

But this is not the Jesus way. The Jesus way is to take up your cross.

2. You pick up your cross and follow Jesus when you can respect the service of someone who is “not one of us” (9:38-41)

It’s easy to draw the line of fellowship ever tighter.

Excluding more and more until we recognize only those who are “one of us.”

But this is not the Jesus way. The Jesus way is to take up your cross.

3. You pick up your cross and follow Jesus when you understand that “marriage and divorce” a matter of discipleship (10:1-12)

It’s easy to think of marriage and divorce as a great topic for a church debate, forgetting that there are hearts and lives and often children involved.

But this is not the Jesus way. The Jesus way is to take up your cross.

4. You pick up your cross and follow Jesus when your possessions are in God’s control (10:17-31; 12:41-44)

It’s easy to think of giving God some of my money without realizing it’s all God’s and that stewardship is discipleship.

But this is not the Jesus way. The Jesus way is to take up your cross.

5. You pick up your cross and follow Jesus when you seek to serve rather than be honored (10:35-45)

It’s easy to be intoxicated with power, and for some, it doesn’t take much to be a raging drunk. It’s easy to manipulate and bully and seek honor by “posing,” pretending to be someone you are not

But this is not the Jesus way. The Jesus way is to take up your cross.

6. You pick up your cross and follow Jesus when you realize church does not exist for your personal fulfillment (11:12-19)

It’s easy to think the church exists to tickle my every fancy, be that nothing better change or everything has to change, and if it doesn’t I’m out of here.

But this is not the Jesus way. The Jesus way is to take up your cross.

7. You pick up your cross and follow Jesus when you embrace His priorities – love God and love people (12:28-34)

It’s easy to get sidetracked or to make it so complicated.

But this is not the Jesus way. The Jesus way is to take up your cross.

8. You pick up your cross and follow Jesus when God’s will comes before your own (14:32-42)

It’s easy to begin thinking God exits for your benefit.

But this is not the Jesus way. The Jesus way is to take up your cross.

9. You pick up your cross and follow Jesus when you refuse to strike back (14:43-52; 14:53-65; 14:66-72; 15:1-15; 15:16-20)

It’s easy to think you have to defend yourself, your honor, your name, your reputation.

But this is not the Jesus way. The Jesus way is to take up your cross.

10. You pick up your cross and follow Jesus when you are crucified with Him (15:21-32)

It’s easy to think that it’s all about success and being a winner.

But this is not the Jesus way. The Jesus way is to take up your cross.

Gaze with me into the open tomb.

Are you bewildered? Trembling?

Are you ready to tell others? Are you ready to show others?

Are you willing to follow Jesus?

Are you ready to take up a cross every day?

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