We Don't Like Tension

When faced with tension, we want to eliminate it as quickly as possible. What makes a good book is often the tension the author creates. It’s sort of delicious and troubling at the same time. How’s it going to end? You think you know, but you can’t quite be sure. The writer may have some creative twist planned, that you don’t see coming. Same thing with a good movie script.

But what if the writer does not resolve the tension in the end? They just leave you hanging. Or maybe the tension is resolved, but in a very unsatisfactory way—and that makes you mad! You can only hope that they write a sequel and finally resolve the tension then.
The Gospel of Mark ends this way (16:6, 8): “‘Don’t be alarmed,’ [the angel] said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.’ …Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”

There’s more to this Gospel, as a longer ending was added sometime later. Added, I think, for the purpose of resolving the tension we’re left with in verse 8. But why this abrupt original ending that left Mark’s earliest readers with this great unresolved tension? Mark’s resurrection story seems to be missing the Good News! Jesus does not appear. The women hear the angel’s words, but they do not see the reality. They live in great tension.

Put yourself in the shoes of these women. You witnessed the horrible death of the person you loved the most, then saw his body laid in the tomb. Now, through the angel, you receive special revelation from God that he is alive. Yet you flee, trembling, bewildered, afraid. You comprehend in your spirit this Word from God, but it takes longer for your brain and your emotions to catch up.

Mark ends his Gospel with the women living in that void between knowing the truth, and finally seeing the truth, because this is where all of his readers live, including us today. You live in that void. You have heard the Word, God’s special revelation to you. You hear it again this Easter. But you have not seen Jesus. Not yet. We live in tension!

The work of Christ on your behalf has been fully accomplished. As you trust in this Jesus, the Savior who died for your sins and rose again for your justification, it is all finished, even though you do not fully experience the Person of Christ today. This is the nature of our faith. And this is why the Apostle Peter wrote: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1:8-9).

Rev. Brent Juliot is Contributing Editor of F&F magazine and Pastor of Living Hope Church in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

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