Mark 16

Read Mark 16.

[5] And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. [6] And he said to them, “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. [7] But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” [8] And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Mark 16:5–8, ESV

“Do not be alarmed,” the women were told at Jesus’ tomb. The problem is, of course, that they already were, and when your whole world is spinning, being told to calm down doesn’t usually cut it, at least not for me. The shift from alarmed to not being alarmed requires some processing, which is what we see here. The messenger at Jesus’ tomb didn’t just tell them not to be alarmed. He also told them why they didn’t need to be alarmed, followed by what they could do instead. Jesus wasn’t there because he was risen and on his way to Galilee. This was good news they were called to go and tell his disciples. So what did they do? The extended ending of Mark and the other gospel accounts tell us that they eventually shared the news, but something else happened first–nothing. They fled in fear and “said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

So what’s my point? Biblical instructions like “do not be alarmed” or “do not worry” or “do not fear” can sometimes produce shame in us when they don’t immediately relieve us of the emotions they denounce. Why am I still afraid? Why am I still anxious? Doesn’t Jesus say not to be? Well, yes, but these instructions are never issued in a vacuum. They’re accompanied time and again by reminders of God’s faithful love. The women at the tomb didn’t flip an emotional switch from alarm and fear to bold proclamation. It took some time for the reality of the resurrection to sink in, and that reality that the God who loves them was not defeated even by death is what ultimately had the power to relieve their fears. So what’s my point? Maybe it’s that you don’t have to be alarmed when you’re alarmed. God isn’t scared off by your fear or anxiety. He’s still for you and still going before you, even when it takes some time for you to get there.

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