From the Vicar
In the church calendar Lent is a time to help us prepare for the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Before these events originally took place, Jesus also had been preparing his disciples for what was to happen. We know of at least two occasions when Jesus took his disciples aside to explicitly explain what would happen to him. For example Mark’s gospel tells us, ‘he began to teach them [the disciples] that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering ... be killed and after three days rise again (Mark 8: 31). Then a little later Mark recalls again, ‘He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him (Mark 10: 32-34).’
One would think that the disciples then seeing those events unfold would put two and two together to realise Jesus’ predictions were coming true. Indeed, the idea of Jesus rising from the dead after three days was so widely known in Jerusalem that Pilate took extra precaution and placed guards at the tomb just in case his followers might take the body and manufacture such a claim.
But as is so often the case, Jesus disciples just didn’t get it. If they knew of Jesus’ predictions in their minds, they certainly didn’t believe it in their hearts. Immediately after the resurrection, all of them doubted at one time or other: Mary Magdalene arriving at the tomb to anoint the body with spices, bumps into someone whom she thinks is a gardener, but fails to recognise that he is the risen Jesus (John 20:15). When she reports back to the rest of the disciples none of them believe her (Mark 16:11). Then there’s the story of the two disciples on the Emmaus road who spent the afternoon walking and talking with Jesus but neither of them recognised him (Luke 24:16); and we all know about ‘doubting Thomas’ (John 20:25). Of course, it is easy to target the disciples, but if were honest, I’m sure we would have had very similar reactions: after all, dead people simply don’t rise from the dead.
As the disciples realised what had happened, the boundaries of what they considered possible were radically redrawn. In Jesus, the impossible could happen, death can be defeated. It dramatically enlarged their understanding of what God’s mission was all about: suddenly it opened their eyes to how big and glorious it was – a mission not just for Israel but for the whole world.
The Resurrection radically redefined the boundaries of what is considered possible and it challenges us today to rethink what might be possible with God. It’s all too easy to put God in a box, with neatly defined boundaries of what we think he does and does not do, or what he might and might not do. But the Resurrection reminds us otherwise.
In the past few weeks we as a church have been thinking about vision – both what God’s vision is for us as individuals and also what his vision is for us as a Church. As we think about this, let’s allow Christ to break down whatever boundaries we put up and create in us a radical vision and an expectant faith of what God wants to achieve through us his church.
St John the Baptist
Serving God and the Community of Leytonstone for 180 years