Yes, in the way of Your judgments, O Lord, we have waited for You; The desire of our soul is for Your name and for the remembrance of You. (Isaiah 26:8)
As we approach Easter, I have been pondering those who waited on Jesus in His last days, particularly the women who first saw Him after resurrection.
It is fascinating to see that while a lot of necessary attention is placed on Christ, and all the apostles in those last days, and particularly documented in the interactions that were had between them and others, when it came to Christ on the Cross, or the few days that followed, there were just a very small number who were willing to wait on Him, rather than depart the scene.
You can understand perhaps while many seemed to give up and leave stage left. Their hero, who did so many miracles and amazing things, has just been killed. The Son of God (the eternal Messiah) is dead?! Well, so it seemed, and to top it off He willingly walked into it. Yes, He said He would rise again, but many seemed to not hear or comprehend that, all they could feel and see was darkness with all the emotions we associate with grief…but on steroids.
And yet, there were a few women who were drawn to continue to wait or serve Christ even after His death. Despite the obvious uncertainty, grief, shock, and deep pain, here they are standing by a cross, and going to a tomb, and one or two (Mary Magdalene and Mary), willing to wait beside an empty tomb while others run around in shock, after the death of Christ Jesus.
- Is it because they were more devoted?
- Perhaps they were just the lucky selected ones?
- Or they are the just responding out of habit or ritual?
Maybe all of these, or perhaps it is because they had learnt what it is to wait on Jesus simply out of love, responding to the Spirit within them, rather than the confusion around them. I would contend that they had also learnt to wait well before He was crucified. It is certainly not their lives that necessarily qualified them for this reward, rather the grace of God, and maybe their response to love.
Both Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of Jesus, were well used to serving Christ’s personal needs, and provided for him out of there means. According to Jesus, Mary M had chosen the better part by sitting at His feet, rather than racing around preparing a meal, being busy doing what you think you ought.
One could also suggest that due to their journey with Jesus, there had become an embedded devotion to who He is, and an unsaid knowing that if any doubt, it is best just to seek Him. The Hebrew word for seek in the Bible is often also translated to mean wait.
If we read the passage relating to Mary Magdalene encounter with Christ, we can see that it wasn’t necessarily because she had more belief in His return, rather it seems that her willingness simply to minister to Him, and to find solace by seeking Him, placed her in the very place she needed to be to obtain that heart’s desire – an encounter with God that brings new life. This first encounter with Christ, also bringing hope that others needed, and brought new beginnings for many. Mary sought and waited on the Lord where she last encountered or knew of His presence, and in doing so became the first to experience the greatest hope, that is the resurrection of the dead to life and being in the presence of the Lord at His appearing.
In choosing this route of waiting rather than making herself busy, or running away to seek another hero, Mary has somehow learned to live out one of the heart-rending truths spelt out in the Bible, that is ‘despite everything that is happening, I will seek God, and wait’.
In Lamentations 3:22-26, the Bible says, ‘Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.’
This passage in Lamentation is stunning in its context, as these verses sit right in the middle of a chapter or two where Jeremiah is truly living up to his nickname of the weeping prophet, bemoaning his own state, that of Israel, and the dire circumstances they are all in. Facing the truth of his situation, he was still able to cling on to the first knowledge that the goodness of God will prevail, and the faith that this comes as we seek Him and wait on Him.
In many ways these well know characters of the Bible have revealed keys for us today. Many, if not all of us, have times, even seasons, where we feel God has disappeared, and we are left to fend for ourselves, desperately seeking an answer to our circumstance. This applies not only to individuals but whole organisations, and perhaps even nations. At other times, perhaps it is more like we are disappointed that our expectations have not eventuated, even our heartfelt prayers, and we do not know where to turn, or simply go about trying to make the impossible possible in our own strength.
The answers seem to be:
- Understanding that believing in God is more about building a relationship with Christ rather than what you do.
- Cultivating a personal habit or culture of ministering unto to Jesus in the good times and the bad
- Seeking Him even in the darkest moments and being willing to wait even when you feel alone.
- Learning to hear and know His word and voice by listening to Him and studying His word.
- Believing in Him, what He can do, and believing His is willing.
For many the word ‘wait’ is indeed a four-letter word, particularly in today’s society where we can access so much so quickly, however it seems to be a very necessary part of the walk of faith, and perhaps even a divine test of who God is for us.
As we can see from the Strong’s Concordance, the Hebrew word for ‘wait’, for example as in Lamentations 3:25, has a deeper meaning.
H6960: קוה (kaw-vaw’) qavah – a primitive root; to bind together (perhaps by twisting), i.e. collect; (figuratively) to expect:–gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon).
Biblical waiting is not a passive thing, it is an intentional act of drawing and binding yourself closer to God. Gradually turning yourself closer to Him. This is how we gain strength in this hour, by drawing on God’s. As we entwine ourselves into Him, we gain more of Him.
My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning— Yes, more than those who watch for the morning. (Psalms 130:6)
Remembering the lessons from Mary Magdalene, we need to learn to minister unto the Lord, and to wait on Him, listening for His voice, as part of our daily walk. Knowing what it is to seek Him. Then when things go paired shaped, and even God seems to have disappeared, go to that place of seeking and waiting. Even perhaps going to where you last found Him. For Mary that was at the foot of the cross and at the entrance to the tomb. And in the waiting on Christ hope arises, and one that bring new life.
This lesson of waiting eventually being learnt by the other disciples when they waited in the upper room in the book of Acts. I also wonder if that is what they were doing when they went fishing after Christ’s resurrection (or am I being too generous). Sure, they may have simply gone back to just doing what was familiar, but this time there was more of them in the boat, they were staying together (pretty much), and they were in Galilee as the Lord asked of them. Even more interestingly, they were in a similar place where Jesus could once again get their attention by reminding them of who He is by repeating that earlier encounter, and the miraculous provision of lots of fish.
Finally, perhaps a message for the whole body of Christ, and His bride. As Easter comes around and that yearly tradition comes of the Easter Sunday dawn service, where we wait as those women did for the Son to rise, we too can heed the lessons of Mary, the Old Testament prophets, and the words spoken through Apostle Paul.
Counting all we have as nothing, we wait afresh for Christ’s return, seeking Him with all our heart despite our circumstances or the nearly 2000 year wait. In doing so trust we Him for the encounters that come to bring new hope, and the work His calls us into through the waiting, until He appears again. Without doubt, it is this action of prayerful, devoted waiting, that has been the trigger for God to bring some of the greatest revival in our history, perhaps a reward from above that reminds us of the command from Christ, to watch and wait for Him. This waiting, truly the place where we can find hope, and new life.
 John 19:25
 Matthew 27:61
 Matthew 28:11; John 20:1-18
 Luke 8:2
 Luke 8:3
 John 20:11-18
 Mark 16:9
 1 Corinthians 15:12-28; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Titus 2:13
 See also Psalm 38:7,15,16,22
 Matthew 7:21-24; John 6:29; 15:4
 Luke 10:38-42; John 10:27
 Hebrews 11:6
 Psalm 11:4-7
 Acts 2
 John 21:1-14