Gospel of Matthew – Resurrection
It’s funny how things we absorb weeks and months ago can come back and finally hit us square in the heart. I’ve spent thousands of hours and dollars trying to become best communicator and leader I can be, be it through College and Seminary, to online courses through Udemy, and even YouTube.
I’ve spent the last couple of years learning storytelling and I stumbled upon a YouTube video (which I’ve been unable to find again sadly) by a random technology administrator and I knew it was going to reshape everything I had thought about storytelling. It was a strangely significant moment in my life.
The presenter talked about the Struggle, the Switch, and the Success involved in Storytelling and I knew when I watched the video, that this concept was instantly Spiritual (alliteration works my dear friends, love it or hate it). The Switch was inherently Spiritual in nature.
Talk about the struggle too long and people think you’re complaining. Talk about the success too long and people think your prideful. What people really want to know is the Switch. How did you get from the struggle to the success. The switch is what’s helpful to the human soul.
So I’m sitting in my backyard on the porch, just as the blues and oranges are beginning to streak through the sky, a chilly breeze, and birds chirping. It’s my favorite sort of working environment. I even have my favorite hoodie on, so I’m pretty content here, especially with coffee in hand.
I’m looking at the Narrative Lectionary text this Sunday, about the Mary’s who go to visit the tomb of Jesus where I usually a 4 sentence approach to storytelling (Setting, Tension, Resolution, Creative Freedom) but then I remember this 3S technique of storytelling, I decided to apply it. And oh my.
Right into it: Jesus is dead. Our beloved Savior is no more. What were those years we travelled with him, seeing miracles unfold before our very eyes. He was constantly breathing new life into people everywhere we went, only to seemingly be conquered by death. If you were a post-cross-pre-resurrection disciple, the agony you must have felt must have been soul crushing. He had just raised Lazarus back to life a week earlier and now this? Excuse my language, but it’s the only language I can think of to hammer home the point. What’s happened doesn’t make any damn sense and it hurts to hell and back. Not just killed. Mockingly killed. Ridiculed in death. The Struggle is real and it hurts. Deeply.
Can you begin to feel just a little of their anguish?
Now the Success. The Mary’s are leaving the tomb, they’ve seen an angel that’s told them Jesus is alive. Afraid but joyful all at the same time, they begin heading back into town only to run into Jesus. They can’t believe what they see. They fall on their knees, clasping his feet. Jesus really is alive. It’s impossible. But here he is. Can you imagine a joy so eviscerating that it actually makes you sick to your stomach? There’s been a shift in the cosmos, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and through the blood of Jesus, Death has been defeated and the world has just changed forever.
But what happened?
How did Jesus go from death to life. How did the Mary’s go from emotional death to unexplainable renewed life in this moment? What happened that they could be filled with such a Joy that even overwhelmed their fear of having just seen an angel? After all, people in this time were terrified of angels and any number of messages an angel could bring.
What. WAS. The Switch?
The Mary’s deciding to visit the tomb.
They decided to stare death in the face instead of running from it. They did what 11 other men hadn’t already (one man short of 12, a painful reminder of what had happened).
Choosing to go and see even in the midst of pain, even in the midst of death, and even though some soldiers who were guarding the tomb could have chased them away, this choice they made was the switch. Facing the pain led to life for them.
And I’m a bit misty at the moment as I type all of this out… All of us have pain. And some of us know the pain of others. Pain that sucks the life out of us. The loss of family members. Mistakes we’ve made in life. Wondering if anyone actually cares about us. Not getting the job we thought we were destined for. Things happening in life that were supposed to happen a certain way but that instead turned out tragically wrong. And for the disciples, Jesus dying on a cross instead of leading them victoriously into old age.
The switch for the Mary’s was to turn into the pain and maybe that’s our switch too. Maybe in turning away from it, we’re actually moving away from Jesus. And that if we’d just turn in, Jesus would make life of it, waiting there on the road back to home. At the end of it all, I guess you could say that Jesus is the switch in God’s story. The switch that moves us from Creation to New Creation, from Death to Life.
I had a good cry yesterday after having some time to reflect on our mission trip to South Africa. I saw some pain. Some struggle there. Stuff that I’d like to turn away from. And I don’t know if I could be a part of a switch that leads to some life, to some success in the face of some of those struggles and pains. But I do know I’m grateful for The Fold and Adonai Christian Church near Vaalwater who embrace the forgotten and vulnerable. They’ve truly turned in towards what many of us never want to see or acknowledge even exists. They’re truly going to be a part of the switch for many people in that area, and already have been.
There’s some death to life things happening there that seemed impossible at one point. Death to life things much like the Mary’s experienced with Jesus after the tomb.
Reflections on Matthew 28:1-10