7 April 2017, by Rev. David A. Muench, Director of Ministerial Care
“… Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified.
He has risen; He is not here. See the place where they laid him.”
Would you agree: Life can be full of surprises? Does it seem like all too often you need to change a schedule or adjust your budget because of something you hadn’t anticipated? Maybe you’ve found yourself thinking, “The worst of this is the surprise! I was totally not expecting this!” Or, maybe something like, “If I had known this was coming, I could have been more prepared.”
Without a doubt, whether the situation is something that later seems insignificant or is very serious with long-term life-altering impact, a large part of what you have to deal with is that it was “so unexpected.”
What was discovered at the tomb – first by the women, and later by the men – on that first Easter morning was certainly unexpected. After all, they had witnessed Jesus’ body placed in there only hours before, as the Sabbath was about to commence. Yes, this was an unexpected discovery, even though as recently as Thursday He had indicated to the disciples that this would happen (Mark 14:27-28). These events that form the heart of our Easter celebration give witness to this truth: Our God is Master of the unexpected.
You see, because we live in a broken world, plagued with the realities and consequences of sin all around us (Romans 8:22), many of the unexpected events in our lives bring difficulty and challenge. However, the reality of the Easter resurrection gives testimony to the fact that when the unexpected is from Him Who is Lord and Master of all, even to the point that “wind and waves obey Him,” the outcome for us is always good. The Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, is full of miraculous examples demonstrating our God’s unexpected and gracious mastery of the unexpected.
Yet, as the sun rose on the first day of the week, the Scriptures report the discovery of an “unexpected event” that will forever top all others. The tomb was empty! The Shepherd Who had been struck down had been raised up again – just as He said. Jesus, Who had suffered and died in full view of all who could bear to witness the excruciating events, had been raised to life again. This was sure and confident evidence that the price for sin – for all people, for all time – had been paid. The righteous wrath of God had been satisfied by the suffering and death of His own Son!
This is the greatest, most powerful and far-reaching example of our God’s mastery of the unexpected, but there are so many more as the story continues even into our lives today, even as He continues to cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
Perhaps, as we celebrate again the greatest “unexpected event” of all time, it becomes most meaningful to us that we realize again how our story – with all its unexpected twists and turns – is joined with His story. The impact of what happened on the first Easter morning is more keenly felt as we realize the same God who took charge, even mastered the unexpected then and there, is present in our lives here and now.
Though we may not yet be fully aware of precisely how and when it will happen, we can rest assured that He is aware. We can be confident in His desire and willingness to remain Master of the unexpected in our lives. We can be anchored in the truth that He has nothing against us for the sake of Jesus, Who paid in full for every shortcoming and sin that may seek to convince us otherwise. The tomb, unexpectedly, was empty! You are forgiven, cleansed of guilt and shame. You are righteous, by grace, through faith in Jesus.
My prayer is that our God will multiply joy and every blessing for you as you regularly watch for the presence of Him Who is the “Master of the unexpected” in your life.