I think it is built into us as humans that our thoughts quickly turn from whatever is going on around us to “What now?” Spend a little while trying to keep a child happy and entertained and it quickly becomes obvious that whatever they enjoyed ten minutes ago is now worn out and their question, either asked outright or implied, is “What now?” But it isn’t just with children. When things are going great in our life, we are looking for what new adventure we can have that will be even more exhilarating. When things aren’t going so well and we have problems our thoughts tend to be “Well, what now?”
I was reading the Gospel of Mark this morning and thinking of the twelve with Jesus when they entered Jerusalem for the final Passover with Him. Can’t you just feel the excitement they must have felt when Jesus had them to bring the donkey and he rode it into Jerusalem with people laying their garments along the way and singing “Hosanna in the highest” and “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” They must have felt this was finally the day they had been anticipating. Jesus would be made king and they would be his loyal servants. But when he simply entered the temple and left for Bethany it had to have been confusing. When he, the next day cursed the fig tree for having only leaves and no fruit it likely caused them to wonder what in the world was happening now? But when they showed him the beautiful temple with its massive stones and ornate drawings only to have him say, “I’m telling you not one stone will be left on top of another” they must have thought, “What now?” Jesus explained to Peter, Andrew, James and John that Jerusalem would be destroyed before that generation had passed. He told them they would be persecuted, but if they endured to the end they would be saved. In that discussion he also foretold the second coming that only the Father then knew when would take place.
In the coming days when they gathered for the last supper and saw Jesus institute the Lord’s Supper as a way to remember the sacrifice he would made on the cross they had to be wondering, “What now?” But their wonder would soon be answered when Judas led the mob to arrest him and the disciples were scattered. Peter followed from a distance but his cowardice got the best of him when he denied he knew Jesus three times. After one false and misleading charge after another Jesus was condemned to be crucified. The one who came to save the world was rejected by the world. Religious leaders who had taught the prophesies of the coming Messiah, now led the mob to take him to Pilate the Roman Governor where he would be crucified. Religious leaders cried out for his death instead of holding him up as Savior and Lord. It wouldn’t have been unreasonable at all if Jesus had simply said, “These people aren’t worth dying for” and have come down from the cross. But he stayed on the cross, willingly paying the price for our sins with the agony of the crucifixion. “He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” Surely that day when Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Jesus and buried his body in his own new tomb the disciples were asking, “What now?” Jesus had informed them over and over again what was coming but they hadn’t been able to hear and understand.
On the first day of the week it was some women who came to the tomb early in the morning, not any of the twelve who had walked with him so long. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome brought spices for his formal burial. On the way they wondered who would roll the stone away so they could reach the body. But there was no need. The stone was rolled away. Jesus’ body wasn’t there. An angel sat in the tomb to point out the place where they body had laid. These godly women rushed back to tell the disciples about Jesus being raised, but they didn’t believe their witness until Jesus appeared to them as well. Even then some doubted. I suspect when that day came when they stood with him on the Mt. of Olives and watched him ascend back to the Father in glory the question was still on their minds, “What now?”
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring for any of us individually. But I know ultimately the “what now” is that Jesus is coming back, not this time to pay the price for our sins again but to receive those who through faith have lived for him on this earth. He will come to judge the world of sin, righteousness and judgment to come. Ultimately the what now will be eternity either in glory with the Lord of glory or eternity away from God with the devil and all his angels. Only when we are with him in glory will there be no more concern for “What now?” Then all the things we have gone through will pass into insignificance and we will focus all our thoughts and glory one the one who paid the price that we too might be saved. Praise God, this “What now” is available for all people everywhere.