Happy Easter? Think Twice Before You Wish

Matthew 28: 1-10

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Message

When I was in Seminary, we had a practical assignment at The Leprosy Mission at Madurai, run by Christian Doctors. Along with me was Binu Cherian (now Rev Binu Cherian). After a long journey we reached the destination from Kottayam, Kerala. The first day we were asked to take rest. Next day the first task assigned to us was the medical dressing of the wounds of the patients with Leprosy. I had read many books about heroes who served patients with Leprosy and was really looking forward to this adventure. There was a nurse assigned to us to show how to do it. I volunteered to go first and whooshhhh. I just could not bear the sight of the wounds and almost blanked out. I just could not bring myself to even touch with gloves. I just gave up and in came Binu. He was shaky but could manage to do his best. I was so annoyed with myself that I took a week to bring myself to even get to start doing my basic job and that too with a lot of reluctance. But Binu Cherian who is by nature a very caring and nurturing person had become adept in the process. This incident always reminds me of the disciples who kept away from the site of crucifixion and the suffering of Jesus. About Peter we read that during the trial of Jesus, he maintained a distance and eventually denied any association with Jesus. Disciples did not know how to handle pain and always tried to distance from any sufferings. Rev Binu always reminds me of people who do not avoid serving or uncomfortable situations like stated before. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary dared to walk to the tomb to apply spices on the mutilated and wounded dead body of Christ. They are ready to revisit the ordeal and  pain that they saw on Friday when Jesus died a brutal death. The women teach us an important lesson in life. We are living in a generation where the brutality, blood, gory violence and mayhem are very much the order of the day in movies, television and videogames. But in reality, we are terribly ill equipped to face the harsh realities of life and try to avoid it by indulging into entertainment, excessive food, alcohol, sex and everything that helps us to be anesthetized from our surroundings.

When the women were walking towards the tomb Mark 16: 3 says that the women asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” Looking at the insurmountable odds in front of them the women did not budge. When the odds are stacked high there is an Earthquake that shakes the world as they know it. Dead person can be embalmed as far as they know. But the Angel brings an earthquake in the lives of the women where they see the stone being rolled away. Angel informs “ He is not here, He is Risen” The tomb could not contain Him. Our God cannot be preserved with spices as he is not where we expect him to be. He goes ahead of us in Galilee. The women had to inform the disciples to follow him to Galilee which was 130 kms away from Jerusalem. Why Galilee? What does this all mean? Can you hear any of the disciples saying “Wow, all is going according to plan how Jesus said”. No.

Remember Jesus is calling the disciples to Galilee, the spot of their ministry which is away from the power centres of Jerusalem. Jesus is calling disciples to travel 130 kms further to engage in the ordinary situations of life. Remember, if Jesus had died and if that was the end of the story, it sure would be tragic. But disciples could get back to their life as usual. They could live a normal life, doing things for themselves. But this resurrection actually brought an earthquake in their life. It would not leave them as ordinary as they wanted to be. Their life from now on had become dangerous as they became the practitioners of resurrection in a culture and society that declared death and destruction. Jesus did not call them to live in a secluded place away from civilization. But called them for commission to ordinary place like Galilee, to involve in the lives of people and give them something that nobody can take away. What is that? Some say it is the most dangerous thing in the world. There is a saying in Malayalam that says “Aana kodathalum, asha kodukalle” (roughly translated it means, it is OKhe is risen if you give elephant but do not give anyone hope). The hope of resurrection is a very risky business. So when we say “Happy Easter” remember, the day of resurrection was a day of great joy and great fear. Resurrection of our Lord said “No force in the world can arrest our Lord in a tomb. He is not where people expect him to be. He goes ahead of us. Following him is risky and very stupid. Are you stupid enough to follow him to Galilee?

Let me introduce you to my batch mate and friend who I respect a lot, Rev Nebu Varghese. Right from our seminary days, Nebu marked himself as a person of few words and a great living witness. Nebu as of  today is the missionary of a Mission called the Tibetan Border Mission of the Mar Thoma Church. This project is work of education and health in Munshiyari in Uttarakhand. It is far too away from the power centres and metropolitan and cosmopolitan cities. The travel in itself is an adventure. His wife Christina and Nebu have worked for last 4 years in this really remote village where extreme cold is the order of the day along with constant shortage of electricity. With the team of evangelists they are doing their best to add new dimensions to the village life out there. Remember, for any emergency, they need to travel 14 hours on long winding roads. Even to buy basic stuff like vegetables this is the case. In spite of all the odds he is entering into the 5th year of his ministry there even when everyone of his well wishers and family members advised him to take a transfer. His wife Christina and Nebu, both feel that their work and vision that God has assigned them, is far from over.  Let me tell you Nebu is a person who detests anything written about him or in no way does he find what he is doing very heroic. He is just concerned about people and how the lives of the people can be bettered. There is one statement that he made that struck me like a thunder bolt. “ Christina and myself have seen the awesome work of God. I used to believe slogans like ‘God is sufficient’ but I have tasted it and know it is true. One needs to get out our comfort zones to see where God is leading us” I can admire such people but can I risk my life and make my life dangerous for spreading the news of resurrection?

Before wishing anyone Happy Easter, please think twice. Resurrection makes life risky, uncomfortable and very dangerous. Embrace it at your own risk.

P.S.

To contact Rev Nebu Varghese and find out more about Tibetan Border Mission Field of the Mar Thoma Church, you can mail him : nebuothara@yahoo.co.in

You can call him on : 7533965556

Also this link could be useful to get to know about Tibetan Border Mission Field: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1286463004713710.1073742073.226203707406317&type=3&uploaded=14

Rev Merin Mathew

Bethel Mar Thoma Church

Kolar Road, Bhopal