Sunday, April 18, 2010
What Do You Expect?
Gospel Reading: Luke 24:1-12
I always like this Sunday when we remember the Myrrh-Bearing Women. It's always good to remember that great things can happen when no one cares who gets the credit for it. These Myrrh-Bearing Women were simply doing a basic task for Someone they loved, simply because it needed to be done. They didn't care who knew or didn't know. (Although they did get their names in the Bible, so that is some credit :-)
These women had expectations when they went to the Tomb, expectations that would be expectations you and I would likely have were we in the same position.
They expected to prepare Jesus' body for burial. (Luke 24:1)
They expected to find the Tomb closed and sealed. (v. 2)
Finding the Tomb open, they expected to find Jesus' Body. (v.3)
Finding the Tomb empty, they expected to figure out the problem. (v. 4)
Finding Angels there, they expected fear and harm. (vv. 5-8)
They expected the Apostles to believe their account. (vv. 9-10)
They expected wonderful things to happen. (v. 8)
On each count, their expectations were turned upside down.
Expecting to prepare Jesus' body, they didn't realize that this had already been done by St. Nicodemus and St. Joseph of Arimathea before they laid Him in the Tomb (John 19:39-42).
Expecting a closed tomb, they found the stone door of the Tomb rolled away, the seal broken.
Expecting to find Jesus' Body, the found the Tomb empty.
Expecting to figure things out one their own, they met Angels who greeted them, admonished them, encouraged them and commissioned them.
Expecting fear and harm by the Angels, they were filled with awe - according to Matthew 28:8, they were "filled with joy."
Expecting to be believed by the Apostles, they were not. Interestingly enough, even though each of the Gospels provides various details about the Resurrection, this is one detail on which they all agree: the Apostles didn't believe the women. Hmmm.
Expecting great things to follow, they did. Wonderful things happened on Resurrection Day and the forty days following - Jesus Christ met with the men on the Emmaus Road, He met with the Apostles that evening, He met them in the Upper Room a week later, He went fishing with them in Galilee, visited with them on a mountain in Galilee, and finally ascended to Heaven before their eyes.
All of us expect things from God, don't we?
Many expect God to be an enabler. They expect Him to help them out of every situation, to help them avoid or cover the consequences of their ungodly lives. They expect God to give them the means to continue their sinful ways. Some even expect God to bless their sinful endeavors, to bless their corrupt business practices, to sanctify their undisciplined lives, to approve their immoral choices.
Some people expect God to be their pal. You know, "Everything's cool with me and the man upstairs." They expect that God is Someone that would sit on the sofa with them and watch TV, but not challenge their life or lifestyle. These folks put too much emphasis on "personal relationship" and not enough emphasis on with God. Just like "pals" and "buddies" come and go, sadly so often goes their life with God.
Some people expect God's people to be perfect, just as He is. They blame God for things His people do. Who of us hasn't misrepresented God at some point in their lives? (I'm among the worst.) There are some who look at Christians instead of Jesus Christ. Others perceive Christianity to be too hard or too realistic. As G.K. Chesteron once wrote, "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; rather, Christianity has been found dificult and left untried."
And there are some who expect God to be like them rather than expecting themselves to be like God. Have you ever noticed how both major parties make God follow their own agenda? (Aren't you glad God is neither Republican or Democrat?) Have you ever noticed that God is conveniently invoked as needed by both politicians and criminals? And have you ever noticed that when God conflicts with someone's ideals, suddenly He becomes irrelevant?
God turns these expectations upside down, too.
Expecting an enabler, we find that God works in a person's heart, at the root of the problem - sin - and change a person from the inside out. God doesn't bless our sinful ways; no matter how hard we try, we can't change our lives on our own. We don't need an enabler, we need God Who renews.
Expecting a pal, God proves Himself to be a truer friend than any casual "pal" or "buddy." God is a "friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Prov. 18:24). When your pals and buddies have moved on, God remains.
Expecting perfect people, we realize that God sees everyone the same: none perfect, but all dearly loved. Perfection is not to be found in people. Perfection is only found in God.
Expecting God to be like us, we come to understand that the more we know God, the less like us we see Him to be and the more like Him we will want to be.
What do you expect from God?
Do you expect to prepare His body, though the task is already done?
Do you expect to find His sealed Tomb, though it is already opened?
Do you expect to find His Body, though He has risen?
Do you expect to explain the empty Tomb rather than listening to the Angels?
Do you expect fear rather than greeting and encouragement?
Do you expect to be believed by those who ought to believe?
Do you expect something wonderful to happen?
Remember His words.