Easter Sunday: Rising To The Unexpected
“He isn’t here - he has risen victoriously!…
Run and tell his disciples, even Peter, that he is risen”
Retrospectively, the Resurrection is not the most unexpected outcome. Every year we reverently remember Good Friday, but we also know that Sunday is coming. It's fairly easy for us to look back at Scripture, assemble the pieces and anticipate the outcome.
But for the early followers of Jesus who first encountered the Risen Jesus, this scene at the tomb was certainly unexpected.
Often the most unexpected moments catalyse the most significant growth. Often it’s these unforeseen, unanticipated moments that propel us further into discovering His purpose for our lives.
Before this year, unexpected circumstances tended to overwhelm rather than excite me. However, so much of that changed when I moved from the hustle and bustle of South London to a much slower lifestyle in the sweet mountainous North California to attend ministry school.
I left the U.K with a clear diary, little agenda, and a willingness to be surprised. I’d prepared as much as I possibly could to move stateside; gone through the arduous process of obtaining my visa, wallowed through emotional goodbyes and triple-checked that I had resourced myself with plenty of Dairy Milk and Twinings tea. I prepared as best I could for what the unexpected nine months would look like. In reality, I had no idea what was coming.
So what’s the point here? I realised that my experience finds consensus in the Resurrection story.
‘Saturday evening, Mary Magdalene and Salome and Mary the mother of James went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body.
“Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”
But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.
When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side.
The women were shocked, but the angel said. “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!
‘Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee.”
There’s something unexpected about this story too - at least for the women who went to anoint the body of Jesus. Similar to my preparation for a year at ministry school (visa, packing, goodbyes), these women prepared themselves (by purchasing burial spices), to anoint the dead body of Jesus at the tomb.
Yet, just as this year has proven vastly different for me, we see the women receive a wildly different assignment at the tomb to the one she thought she was going there for. A different, and far greater assignment than she could have expected or dreamed up herself.
She thought she was going there to anoint the dead and lifeless Jesus. Yet, her expectations were both shattered and re-formed as she became one of the first evangelists in history, commissioned to preach the Gospel.
“He isn’t here - he has risen victoriously!…Run and tell his disciples, even Peter, that he is risen”
It is like this with our expectations, assignments and goals we set ourselves, and His purpose for our lives. We can plan and prepare the burial spices, but the reality is that our expectations must be captive to His first (Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.)
The most liberating thing about this surrender is that His plans will almost certainly be far better, far more fulfilling, far more life-giving than our own.
That’s not to say resist dreaming, hoping or having confident expectation in an outcome; I believe the Lord cares deeply about our desires. But when life throws a curveball, or something happens that you might not have expected, it is an opportunity to press in and see how the Lord is using the situation for good.
So, a few challenges for when something happens that you don’t expect:
1. EMBRACE it
One translation of Mark 16:8 says “they staggered out of the tomb, awestruck.” The women could hardly believe their eyes - their precious Jesus had just defeated death and proven himself the King of Heaven.
Embracing the plans and purposes of God involves a sort of divine exchange - when we lay down our expectations, even our rituals, our traditions and plans we receive the fullness of what God intends to use us for. The unexpected moments often mark the end of something old and the beginning of something new.
It’s an extraordinary exchange; Jesus' death and rising from the dead enables others to rise from the dead and delight in His majesty forever.
2. RISE to it
Though initially hesitant, afraid, and ‘deep in wonder’, the women eventually rose to the unexpected.
Mark 16:11 and John 20:18 depict an awe-struck Mary telling the disciples:
“He’s alive and I’ve seen him.”
Sometimes our most detailed plans and colourful expectations can actually be our biggest hindrance to growth. If Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jacob and Salome showed up to the tomb still adamant on anointing a dead body or without rising to the new assignment, they would never have seen the fullness of God's redemptive plan.
Rising to the unexpected means - both for the women then and women today - recognising the potential that exists at the heart of uncertainty, and trusting in a God who is faithful beyond our understanding.
Originally from London and currently studying at ministry school in North California, Nadia graduated with a degree in Theology at Durham University in June 2017. Only a few months after being introduced to More Precious, Nadia joined the team as Content Manager, using her love of writing and theology to pioneer a number of our most popular series. Nadia has loved the opportunities that MP brings and is always praying that girls would discover their beautiful identity and live wholeheartedly for Jesus.