It is hard to imagine the extreme emotional experiences for the followers of Jesus those last days. I envision many of these emotions and experiences were complete surprises from anything they would have ever expected. In this last chapter of Mark, we see those emotional extremes continue to play out. While still experiencing the pain and loss of what had just happened several days ago, Mark 16 starts the story of several of those followers continuing their mourning process by heading to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with spices.
The first surprise. The tomb entrance had been opened. What are all the questions that started coming to their minds? Who rolled the rock away? Is anyone else in the tomb right now, is Jesus’s body still there, who would want to take away his body from us? We know from scripture, that even though Jesus explained his mission on earth was to save all people from their own sins through his sacrifice, even his closest followers still had visions of Jesus building an earthly kingdom to save them from other nations. I wonder if at that point if the only question they might not be asking is: Is Jesus alive?
The second surprise. Meeting an angel in the tomb. Not only did the angel tell them they would not find Jesus’ body there, but that he was indeed alive and they should go tell the disciples and they would be able to meet him again. Filled again with joy and excitement at the incredible news, imagine the frustration as they shared with the disciples this news to only be met with disbelief.
The last surprise. Seeing Jesus ascending into heaven. Saying goodbye to Jesus had to be a bittersweet experience. I am sure it seemed such a short time in which they could again experience life with him here on earth after the resurrection. While knowing he was alive had re-created the joy and excitement they had first experienced, I expect there would still be sadness that they would not be able to continue life with him on earth.
It is difficult to imagine any of those experiences or extreme emotions were expected from Jesus’ followers. How many of us have expectations of experiences for our lives and see things turn out so differently from those expectations? God has great things in store for those who follow him. Although there is no assurance of life being easy or without pain as a follower of Jesus, but we can look forward to being part of God’s bigger story and carrying the joy that comes from knowing we serve a risen Savior!