1998-08-20 - Crushed to Humility
The Cross Series, Part 49
Mark 16:1-7 And when the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. 6 And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. 7 "But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He said to you.'"
These wonderful ladies were coming to the tomb, still devoted to Jesus, to perform the last action they could do for Him. In their hearts and minds, Jesus had died without fulfilling their fondest desire. They had hoped that He would take the Throne of David and reign as Messiah. Through their sadness and fears, they came with spices to anoint Jesus' body to properly prepare it for burial. Their hearts were in the right place - devotionally on target. But their understanding was obviously well off the mark. That was about to be corrected.
Matthew records an earthquake (Matt 28:2) as an angel rolled away the stone from the door to the tomb that Joseph of Arimathea had lent to Jesus. The women were just wondering how the group would roll away that stone. The stone had born the seal of Rome. To break the seal was punishable by death. The Lord had provided for them. It is important to note that the stone was not rolled away to let Jesus out. He was already gone. The stone was rolled away to let Mary and company into the empty chamber.
There is a difference in the accounts as to the number of angels present there. The important fact is that at least one angel greeted the women as they approached. The phrase "Do not be amazed" is delivered "Do not be afraid" in Matthew. Jesus was always telling someone not to be afraid. And, ironically, now in the face of the greatest news mankind has ever heard, the hearers must be told not to be afraid. We very often fear the things we don't understand or cannot comprehend. Do any of us really understand the resurrection of Jesus in complete detail? Our lack of understanding does not change the reality of the event. Still, we are so often so completely blown away mentally that a fear or total astonishment grips us. We know we are standing in the face of something that is totally beyond the natural. It is ironic too that we would all be astonished that Jesus had done just exactly what He had promised He would do.
The angel now reminds the stunned ladies of the instructions of Jesus to go to Galilee and to expect to meet Jesus there. The instructions are to be delivered to the disciples, and specifically to Peter. Jesus knows our broken hearts, our pains and self-rejection. Peter was not to be allowed to exit, quietly believing that Jesus had no more time for him. The Lord specifically sought Peter out to reconcile the burly fisherman to Himself. Just as Jesus Christ sought each one of us out. Many of us were like Peter - totally crushed and at the end of his personal resources. It is at this point that we submit willingly to Jesus' love and call. Once Peter's pride, like ours, was removed from the scene, then Peter would allow Jesus full access to his life.
Quite the opposite of Mary Magdalene, who was devotionally accurate, Peter is doctrinally accurate. The rigid letter of the law stares Peter in the face as the enemy whispers into Peter's anguished mind, "It's all over and gone. You'll never get it back." It was poison directly to Peter's heart.
Peter had blown it, period. He had denied even knowing Jesus, with cursing -- in fear of his mortal life as he warmed himself by the fire in the enemies' camp. Before we are too hard on Peter, we must be honest and admit that there were times when we have wanted to say something for Jesus to someone and felt the tightness of fear in our throats. We have remained silent. We have also blown it in this or other ways, period. Peter cried with wracking sobs and grief. We too have known sadness at letting our Lord down. Peter must have felt that the Lord could never ever use him again, and that Jesus might not have anything to do with him again. Eternity may have just slipped through Peter's fingers.
James 5:19-20 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.
We have all felt the same fears tugging hard at our hearts. It is a lie of the enemy. Just as Jesus restored Peter, He has and will again restore us. Jesus used this to crush the pride in Peter's life and give him a hint of what he was capable of doing. The humble man that emerged to serve the Master became a leader of the early church - bold for his Messiah. He looked Nero in the eye and refused to be broken in the face of his own execution and that of his beloved wife.
Admit your weakness and learn to depend on Jesus for everything - strength to get up in the morning and faith to close your eyes at night. In that weakness is the humility to serve Jesus, as Jesus served the Father, and as Peter served his Lord.
Dear Lord, If it must be, crush us and rebuild us as the tools that You need. Accomplish Your tasks and goals through us. Remove our proud hearts and give us Your humble heart to share with the world. Once You have our complete attention, Your grace, love and mercy can be much better understood and shared with those around us. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.