Watch or Wait?


“. . . to be carefully guarded . . .”

“The next day, which was a Sabbath, the chief priests and the Pharisees met with Pilate  and said,  ‘Sir, we remember that while that liar was still alive he said, ‘I will be raised to life three days later.’’  Give orders, then, for his tomb to be carefully guarded until the third day, so that his disciples will not be able to go and steal the body, and then tell the people that he was raised from death. This last lie would be even worse than the first one. Take a guard,’ Pilate told them; ‘go and make the tomb as secure as you can.’” (Matthew 27:62-65)

It’s not paranoia if you’re really being watched!  The chair I occupy when I’m reading or watching television in our family room is right next to the sliding glass doors that lead to our deck.  Every time I’ve sat in the chair over the past few days I’ve noticed that I’m being watched!  This persistent little fellow buzzes back and forth but then stops and hovers right in front of the glass doors – watching me!  I can’t find anything on our deck that he appears to be building or guarding.  Once in awhile I see another bee like him buzz by, but that’s it.  This guy’s mission seems to be simply watching me!  Should I be worried?  It got me wondering about watching . . .

The Gospel of Matthew tells us that after the death of Jesus the Jewish leaders were worried.  They remembered what Jesus had said about rising from the dead and were concerned that his followers would steal his body to make it look like Jesus’ prediction had come true.  So, the leaders convinced the Roman governor, Pilate, to post a guard at the tomb — to watch!  Hmm . . . here’s my question – why weren’t Jesus’ followers watching to see if Jesus actually would rise from the dead?  I’ve re-read all the accounts of Easter morning in the gospels.  I can’t find evidence in the gospels suggesting that any of Jesus’ followers were watching for him to rise from the dead.  Maybe someone else can find the evidence, but I can’t.  What I found were stories about compassionate women who wanted to formally prepare the body for burial and despairing, fearful disciples who locked themselves away, awaiting the knock at the door that would signal their arrest for being followers of Jesus.  Why wasn’t anyone watching for Jesus to rise from the dead?  They’d seen many of his miracles, including his raising of Lazarus from the dead.  Yet no one was watching . . .

Why weren’t they watching?  Were they traumatized by the events that propelled them from a simple Passover Seder to a brutal execution in a matter of hours?  Were they confused by everything they’d experienced over the last several months and just not sure about their next move?  Were they so frightened by the thought of their own arrests and executions that they just couldn’t watch?  My sense is had they been able to watch they probably would not have been so worn down, traumatized, or frightened.  They lost the vision, they disconnected from the dream, and had nothing to do but wait for their demise, not watch for their deliverance. 

The faithful, eternal love of God in the risen Christ invites us to watch and helps us to continue watching.  God’s Easter love invites us to watch for the new things that God is preparing for us.  Sometimes it can be very difficult to watch, just as Jesus’ closest followers discovered those fateful days after his execution.  When we quit watching, we’re left to waiting.  We either watch for God’s delivering love, or wait for our eventual demise.  I pray that God will help me faithfully watch and encourage others to watch.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

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~ by revgenelson on April 16, 2014.

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