Dr. Rachel Coleman
This is the final post in our “Repent and Believe” series. We’ve been tracking the rubber-meets-the-road implications of a positive response to that gospel invitation in Mark’s Gospel. What did it look like, in the nitty-gritty of life, for people to repent and believe, leave and follow? (See the previous parts of the series here.) In Mark 15–16, we see three little glimpses of how they followed Jesus in the darkest moments of their journey, and then in the glorious light of resurrection.
Immediately after Jesus’ crucifixion, we meet Joseph of Arimathea, “a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God” (Mark 15:43). Matthew tells us that Joseph had become a disciple of Jesus; John qualifies it as a “secret disciple” (Matt 27:57; John 19:38). This secret disciple goes to Pilate and asks for Jesus’ body, so that he can give it proper burial. Something has finally clicked for Joseph; his repentance and belief can no longer operate in the realm of secrecy and hesitation. Witnessing the crucifixion, that apparent defeat of God’s kingdom at the hands of the empire, has unleashed in Joseph a willingness to walk boldly into the den of empire’s power, in order to serve the broken body of Jesus.
Two days later—and we can only imagine the dark grief and questioning of those two days—some of the women disciples come to that tomb where Joseph had laid Jesus’ body (Mark 16:1–8). These women demonstrate that sometimes “repent and believe” means acting in faithful loyalty and love for Jesus even when faith is still lagging behind. The two Marys and Salome fully expected to find a dead body in that garden tomb and a problematic, heavy stone blocking their access to it. Resurrection was not on their horizon that Sunday morning. And yet they went; like Joseph, they were moved by the simple desire to minister to the broken body of the One they had loved. Imagine the mental, emotional, and spiritual bridge they had to cross, to get from faithful loyalty to faith when presented with the angelic announcement of Jesus’ resurrection!
Finally, one of these women, Mary Magdalene, overcomes the initial terror and amazement that kept the women silent, despite the angel’s command to “go and tell” (Mark 16:7–8). Mary bursts into the disciples’ “grief group” with the astonishing news that Jesus was alive—but “they would not believe it” (v. 11). Sometimes, it seems, putting “repent and believe” into action means telling the story, whether they believe you or not!
Questions to consider:
- What is the impetus (shall we say, “swift kick in the spiritual pants”?) that will shake you from hesitation into resolute action as a follower of Jesus? What risks will you take to serve Jesus by serving his broken body, the fragmented and beautiful lives that make up the Body of Christ?
- If your faith is faltering, how can faithful loyalty to Jesus keep you moving forward until faith catches up?
- Where and how and to whom do you need to tell the wild and wonderful story of Jesus’ resurrection, whether you think the listeners will believe you or not?