The Great Surprise

I don’t know about you, but I’m not that keen on  surprises. To surprise originally meant to take suddenly, such as a town taken by force by an army. I like to know what is going and feel in control, which is perhaps a little bit boring. Serendipity, to be pleasantly surprised, is a good thing.

Can there be any greater surprise than the resurrection of Jesus? Nobody was expecting it, despite all the allusions that he had given. “Tear down this temple and I will rebuild it in three days”. "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. " 

The apostles were not waiting for it to happen. Mary Magdalene was not expecting it. Even his mother Mary did not expected to see her son again. Ironically it appeared to be only his enemies who remembered his prediction and requested a guard to be placed at the entrance to the tomb to prevent his disciples from spiriting away the body.

Then he appeared.

The God of surprises had created the greatest surprise of all.

He had surprised Abraham with the gift of a son, Isaac. Such was the amazement of his wife Sarah that she laughed at the idea.

He had surprised Moses at Sinai, by choosing him with his faltering speech, to lead his people out of Egpyt.

The Bible contains many surprises.

The teaching of Jesus was full of surprises. The people were surprised that a Samaritan, a foreigner could be the good neighbour, that a wayward son should be welcomed home with open arms.

They were surprised by him overturning the old dead ways of religious practice, urging love for enemies.  

He surprised his contemporaries by defending a woman caught in adultery and eating with sinners.  

Once more Christ surprised the people.

 It is so hard to contemplate the surprise, the astonishment, the amazement that the disciples felt after the resurrection; that Jesus had come back to life, that he was there with them again.

We hear the gospel accounts of the resurrection but I doubt whether we react with a sense of surprise. We recite that we believe it happened every week in the creed. ‘On the third day he rose again, in accordance with the scriptures.

For Mary Magdalene, Peter and John, the surprise came at the empty tomb. For the other disciples it came in a locked room. For Cleopas and the other it came on the road to Emmaus.

This Easter will we open ourselves to Christ to surprise us, even after however long it is that we have been following him? 

Are we prepared to be surprised by his teaching, taking the eternal word of God to our hearts?

Are we ready to be surprised by his grace that draws life out of death and enables us to blossom like a spring flower.

Not all surprises are unpleasant.

A man received the gift of a parrot, he was delighted, he had always wanted a parrot that could speak. This parrot was a few years old, and he already knew some words, but they were all swear words, and the parrot had a bad attitude, he squawked and screeched and swore all day long. The man was at the end of its tether and one day he could cope no more, so he stuck the bird in the freezer. The bird shrieked and swore and thrashed about, then all went quiet.

The man opened the freezer door, and the parrot looked at him and said, ‘I am very sorry for my bad language and resolve to behave better…….but can I ask what the chicken did?

May the Christ of Surprises delight you, inviting you to accept gifts not yet imagined.