It was already in the third inning of the baseball game when it happened the first time...BANG! The report of the gun bounced across the stands where we were sitting and caught most of the crowd by surprise. The sound came from a starting pistol and marked the start of one of the first races being run at the track meet on the other side of the high school campus. The sound-waves had already traveled 300 yards by the time they made all of us jump. It was not the last time. The starting pistol went off another dozen times before the game we were watching was over, and each time caught folks off guard.
Most of us are used to being caught off guard from time to time. How high did you jump the last time the sonic boom of an F-15 came just as you stepped outside on an overcast day?
Jesus was doing his best to prepare the disciples for what was to come in the days leading up to Holy Week. In Mark's Gospel he literally starts in the middle, the eighth chapter of Mark's sixteen chapter book, with the first of three predictions or words of warning about what will happen to him. They don't understand. I can imagine that in the closing weeks, as they journeyed to Jerusalem for the last Passover they would attend together, they had little idea of what was coming.
Who among us like to be caught of guard? No one. We would rather know now, what lies ahead, that be surprised tomorrow. But, life rarely unfolds like that. The story of Easter is one of surprise, sadness, sorrow, and then something else.
Like the starter's gun the other day, the Book of Hebrews likens the journey of faith to that of a race, pleading that we would continue to run and not give up (Hebrews 12). As we draw closer, keep praying for your friends and yourself: pray that we would all be caught off guard, this Easter, by the sheer joy of God's love for us. Grace and peace, Scott