Posted on Sun, Apr 8, 2012
Text: Mark 16:1-8
16:1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Even though Jesus prophesied to the women that he would rise from the dead, the women probably did not expect to find an open or even an empty tomb. They certainly didn’t expect to find an empty tomb with a young man standing inside, who we can only suppose to be an angel. And can you imagine their faces even when he tells them ‘not to be alarmed.’ I confess, I would have been alarmed! But he continues, “You must be looking for the Jesus, the one you just saw crucified in agony on the cross… I have Good News for you, he is alive and he’s not here… You will need to return to Galilee. You need to remember, that’s where he told you he would meet you.” “Oh, and by the way, be sure to go and tell his disciples, I imagine they are a little upset with the crucifixion thing and all… Oh, and be sure not to forget Peter, he’s still pretty busted up about, like just after promising Jesus he would follow Jesus anywhere, he betrays Jesus three times and then the rooster crowed three times, AGAIN just like Jesus said would happen… Peter must be really bummed. He may need a Stephen Minister as well!” It is kind of like this messenger is just rambling on and on… “Oh and on your way stop at the ABC store and pick up some munchies will you? I’m starved and there is nothing in this tomb!”
It is not surprising that the women, according to this passage in Mark, didn’t appear to believe the messenger, and they fled in ‘terror and amazement.’ Could you blame them?
They were, “Terrified,” because they saw what appeared to be a living being in a place where dead bodies were stored for desiccation. Later the bones would be gathered and placed in stone ossuaries. There is a reason there was a ‘large’ stone put in entryway with a large wax seal telling people to KEEP OUT! They were also amazed (which also involves an essence of confusion.) because of what they just had just witnessed a few days before and the news they were hearing from this heavenly being. The experience went against every bit of ‘logical’ and ‘reasonable’ thought, according to human thinking, but it was exactly what Jesus told them to expect!!! So is the way for human thinking.
We have three specific times and places where Jesus told his disciples he would be crucified and then rise on the third day after they arrived in Jerusalem. We can assume that Mary his mother and Mary Magdalene were present at these times. Jesus was clear; He would be arrested, mocked, scourged, killed on the cross and then on the third day rise from the dead.
Think about it, being arrested, mocked, scourged or even killed on a cross were concepts they could actually handle human beings. Tragically these terrible events were a common sight in Jesus’ day. But this promise about ‘rising from the dead.’ This was new. Death, they could handle and accept because in their day, suffering and death were commonplace, but this resurrection promise was unique, unachievable, and unbelievable for humans. Resurrection is ‘unachievable’ but it can be hoped for… which is exactly what Jesus was trying to tell us… it requires FAITH. They saw Jesus do some amazing this to and for OTHER people, but His own resurrection? Could they really expect Jesus to rise from the dead? Ironically, it seemed they were so interested in their own roles as Jesus’ disciples, the direct followers of the future “David-like” king of Israel, I wonder if even the disciples expected Jesus would even been arrested after the triumphal entry into Jerusalem like he said?
Only Mary, after hearing that she would be called ‘blessed’ because she would become the mother of the Messiah of Israel and the Savior to the Gentiles realized that Jesus would suffer someday. I don’t think the disciples were all that different from the average Jerusalemite who wanted Jesus to rein as the Davidic-like Messiah purging their holy city of the Romans, and restoring Israel as a powerful nation like their images of old told them Israel told them.
After witnessing his crucifixion, I really wonder if even the disciples really expected Jesus to rise, even if it was a promise…
Mark tells us that, “they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.“
In history there are four endings to the Gospel of Mark. How would you feel if verse 8 was truly, ‘the end?’
There are earlier texts eluding to a meeting in Galilee after the resurrection,
“But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.’” (14:28); and in verse 16:7 (“go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”) there is a hint that Jesus will do something to redeem Peter and his guilt-induced shame.
Do you really think they remained quiet out of terror or amazement?
We know they did not remain quiet. How do we know they did not remain quiet? We know, because you are here, and many more have heard the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection. Someone in your past told you about Jesus. Maybe it was your pastor, maybe it was your parents or a parent, maybe it was a friend, a camp counselor, a teacher, some stranger passing out religious tracts… it could have been anyone! God puts people into our lives to tell us things we need to hear, like, “The one you are looking for, Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.” I remember the moment when my pastor first asked me, “Are you thinking about going to seminary to become a pastor?”
All of us are looking for something deeper than what can be explained through reason. All of us are looking for something based on something more than logic and reason. If you can listen to the voices of your deepest soul or your heart, you will realize that all of us are looking for faith, hope, joy and love. Our hearts yearn for grace, mercy and justice.
We are all like the women in the text obediently going to do an important task, but behind all their nervous chit-chat, like wondering ‘who will roll away the tomb,’ there must have been moments when they recalled what he said about “rising from the dead on the third day,” and even though it was preposterous, there must have been a sliver of hope in their hearts that they will find Jesus alive, just as he had promised. I would bet they approached the tomb in silence and prayed, “Show us God that what you say is true, and Jesus has risen from the dead, just as he promised! Lord in your mercy, please hear out prayer; Please be alive.”
I am here to tell you that what we read in the texts about Jesus of Nazareth is true! He is alive! He has risen from the dead and now through the Holy Spirit, he lives with us and gives us hope everyday! I have seen the Spirit of Jesus, in you, your prayers, your song, your service, your loving each other your worship and your accepting of each other; including the strangers the widows and the orphans.
We live in a new age of the promise of God’s real presence in and among us. The Jesus who was crucified on the cross, took all of your burdens, fears, sins and transgressions with him to HIS grave, and just like he promised and the women hoped, Jesus took your soul and rose from the dead! This is the Easter Promise and it is for you! Amen.
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