We see reports of missing persons in the news and on social media quite often. When we consider the dangers of human trafficking, the news of a missing person is frightening. Contrast that to the story of Harriet Tubman. Her slave owner could have put a call out to the news and social media when she disappeared in 1849. She didn’t just disappear, she escaped from slavery. She didn’t just think about herself, though, and made at least thirteen trips back into areas with slavery to rescue other slaves. We know her for that work on the “Underground Railroad” and honor her contribution to America. We are called to rescue people from whatever enslaves them.
When someone isn’t where they’re supposed to be, it can be scary for those that know and love them. I imagine friends of the rescued slaves might have worried about their missing friends at first. I wonder how many of them knew that their friends had embarked on the perilous route to freedom from slavery? The Christian faith began with a missing person. Jesus had been crucified. He was pronounced dead. He was buried in a tomb. That should have been the end of things. God had different plans, though, and Jesus rose from the dead. Even though Jesus had told the disciples that this would happen, they didn’t expect it. “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” (Luke 24:1-3)
As you read this passage, and other passages that relate the tales of the apostles, the reactions begin with questions about the location of Jesus’ body. They wondered why anyone would steal His body. Then, as angels began telling them about Jesus, they reacted in fear. As the truth dawned on them, they changed their attitudes and soon they began to rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus had risen from the dead. Jesus had battled death and had emerged victorious. His victory made it possible for us to have power over sin and death. Paul talked about the power of the resurrection when he mocked death “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55) Because of the death and the resurrection of Jesus we no longer fear death, we no longer are slaves to sin.
Sin is a stern taskmaster. In the end, the only thing it pays its slaves is death. In the crucifixion, Jesus paid the penalty for sin. When He rose from the dead, He showed that He had conquered sin’s power over us. Sin no longer prevented us from a relationship with God; Jesus took care of that. Sin no longer controls us; Jesus took care of that. We no longer live in fear that we will suffer horrendous punishment for falling short of our goal in following God; Jesus took care of that. The freedom we have allows us to serve God without fear of punishment when we mess up. Did you ever try to serve God and mess up? Join the club. In fact, if you haven’t messed up when trying to serve God, you’ve limited yourself and God’s ability to work in you. God doesn’t call us to be missing persons in a world filled with sin and hurt; God calls us to reach out to our lost and dying world. The worst thing that could happen in serving Jesus would that we would die; and Jesus took care of that, too.
Oh Lord, it is a big world out there with many pitfalls. Let me be bold in doing Your work. Give me confidence in my service to You, knowing that You love me and care for me. Help me to serve better.