Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 7 April 20:
Mark 16:1 — “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.”
The twelve disciples played lead, visible roles in Jesus’ ministry, but it was others behind the scenes, unlikely protagonists, who remained faithful to the end, remaining with Jesus. It was Joseph of Arimathea (unmentioned prior to Jesus’ death) who “went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body,” no doubt at great personal risk and definitely at great personal cost. Also, John records that Nicodemus claimed Jesus’ body with Joseph, again at great personal risk. While many watched Jesus’ trial from a distance (spectator believers), the Bible says that the two named Mary, as well as Salome, “cared for [Jesus’] needs in Galilee.” These same three chose to anoint Jesus’ body while the disciples remained in hiding (John 20:19), and because of their quiet faithfulness, these women were the first to be given the Good News – “He has risen!” Because of their faith, they saw the power of God in ways others didn’t and could proclaim what others couldn’t. On the frontlines of faith, they became leaders in the faith.
Someone once said, “Leaders know the way and show the way.” Jesus said, I am the Way.” So, the real leader is the one closest to Jesus who can lead others to Jesus. At one point the twelve disciples were very enthusiastic about their leadership roles within the Kingdom, even arguing about which among them would be the greatest, but now they remained in fear behind closed doors. Of course, we know that this isn’t the end of the story for them, and after a personal encounter with the Risen Christ (and a rebuke by Him for their unbelief), they will be transformed into men of valor.
Often those most enthusiastic and vocal about leading are not ready for the reality of the cross and the personal costs of worshipful, sacrificial leadership. It takes faith to lead at all costs, trusting that the real victory, eternal life, and immeasurable riches are gained in Christ alone. You must be ready to deny self, take up your cross daily, and follow Jesus unconditionally. Many pursue leadership from a position of pride, but Jesus said true leadership is lowly, costing everything for the sake of the Gospel. The two women named Mary, Salome, Joseph and Nicodemus were focused on one thing – humbly serving Jesus despite the personal cost. They served quietly, behind the scenes and modeled the foot-washing type of leadership which Jesus taught — something for aspiring leaders to consider carefully today. Are you a leader? Where exactly are you leading those who might be following? “Whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Luke 11:23)
– Mark 16:15, 16 — “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.’”
Leader, Jesus has given you your marching orders and shown you what leadership looks like. Are you the one so close to Jesus that you can’t help but proclaim, “He has risen!” Jesus commanded His disciples to proclaim the Gospel, not just to a select few or to those who were likely to accept it, but to the “whole creation.” The Christian’s responsibility is to boldly proclaim the Gospel to everyone as an ambassador of Christ in a hostile land; how others respond to the Gospel is their responsibility. So, as a leader, from whom have you elected to withhold the Gospel, and why? Where is your leadership on the other side of the cross?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 7 Apr 20: “You will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16) Consider the fruitfulness of your leadership today as an ambassador for Christ entrusted with the message and ministry of reconciliation. Are you being used by God to reconcile others to Him?