During the recent Covid19 Easter season, I was drawn to consider, with new eyes, the account of the resurrection. Admitedly my eyes may have been more anxious than usual. That can happen in the middle of a pandemic.
You may be familiar with the story of Jesus being raised to life, but there is an interesting detail in the Gospel of Matthew's 28th chapter that speaks to our current context. After finding the tomb empty, the women were instructed by an angel to go and tell the disciples that Jesus is alive. The text says “With great fear and excitement, they [the women] hurried away from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples (Matthew 28:8).”
I love this picture of these women. I love the honesty of the gospel writer here. The women felt great fear. They were anxious to the max. They likely had adrenaline coursing through their veins for days. They found themselves running away from the tomb, half in terror, and half in joy! Fear and excitement; anxiety and joy; panic and happiness: don't these sound like contradictory emotions?
Certainly our days are touching upon ambiguous moments where seemingly differing emotions readily coexist. I have spoken with people who are both in awe of what God is up to in the world, and deeply angry at God's inaction when called upon. I have heard stories of deep and certain faith that is existing beside trembling worry and heartache.
As people of faith, we are accustomed to calmly following our trusted Shepherd beside still waters. Yet today it seems we are frantically scrambling down the path of death's valley. This contradictory experience is human. Mixed-feelings signal the complexity of our passions. Even the story of Easter has room for ambiguous expressions: sorrow and love; defeat and triumph; loss and gain; fear and excitement.
Your ambiguity is safe with Jesus.
Right in the middle of this human conflicted moment while the women were running, half to escape and half to proclaim, Jesus breaks in to bring redemption.
“But Jesus met them and greeted them” (Matthew 28:9).
Notice for a moment what did not happen next. Jesus did not ask the women to first determine the sincerity of their joy by expelling all fear. Jesus did not ask them to get clear how they were feeling before he would grace them with his presence. The redeemer does not require that we squelch our human reaction or conflicted-hearts.
Your ambiguity is safe with Jesus. He meets you. He greets you. Yes, even in the middle of a pandemic. Jesus shows up in the middle of our messy and anxious hearts, and lets us grab hold of him and experience the intimacy of his presence. Just as we are. There is room in the presence of Jesus for ambiguity.
In this season of ups, downs, and ever-changing landscapes, I find it encouraging to know that in the definitive story of my faith, there is this picture of fear and excitement, conflicted and unfiltered. I am more familiar with “messy” these days than I like. It is, however, where I am frequently residing. Jesus still meets me and greets me there.
Oh, how I cling to Him.
This blogpost is an exerpt from the Easter 2020 message by Pastor Kyla, found here.