Christ is Risen! Alleluia!
It’s hard to pick a “favorite” when it comes to the different stories of Jesus’ resurrection. But today’s reading from the gospel according to Mark 16:1-8 is near the top of my list. If you open up your bible at home, you might notice more verses after these eight. Yet we know that Mark originally ended at this point. Overtime, two different endings were added to the text. One was short, with the women telling others about what they saw (and completely contradicting the verse that came before it). The other ending is much longer, merging together stories from Matthew, Luke, and John. We know this original ending to Mark, with people too afraid to speak, troubled the early church. The early Christians felt compelled to show that the early disciples overcame their fear. And we know the women at the tomb did speak because, 2000 years later, we’re sitting right here.
So why end the story in this way? Because, I think, Jesus’ resurrection is terrifying, shocking, and downright amazing. This kind of ending doesn’t happen in our daily lives. The shock of the empty tomb is unexpected. And Mark loves the unexpected. The women, out of devotion to their teacher and with a desire to properly care for him in his death, arrived at the the tomb early in the morning. They knew Jesus died and they all knew what death looked like. They had their expectations of how Jesus’ story ended. But once they approach the tomb, every expectation was reversed. The large stone was rolled away. A young man, dressed in white, sat inside. The young man acknowledged their fear and surprise and he told them to leave this place and go forward to Galilee. The women run away in silence because none of this was expected. And that makes sense because Jesus was (and is) a brand new thing.
This brand new thing, however, doesn’t end with verse 8. Jesus continues. If we look at the opening verses of the gospel according to Mark, we read this: “The beginning of the good news…” Mark’s story was never meant to be an ending nor designed to contain everything about faith and Jesus. Mark (and all the gospels) are only a beginning. And this new beginning continued in Galilee, Turkey, Greece, and beyond. Jesus’ story continues wherever people gather to show and tell hoe Jesus made a difference to them. You, right now, are part of that story. And I pray that Jesus’ story of love, compassion, and grace will continue to shape your life in amazing ways.
Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for Easter, 4/01/2018.