Summary: Welcome to Mark’s version of the Easter story.
Welcome to Mark’s version of the Easter story, a frustrating end to 16 chapters of immediatelys and straight-aways. The narrative stops as if someone ripped out the last page: “ … and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid …” . No full stop, semicolon or parenthesis. Nothing.
The earliest manuscripts of Mark finish the gospel here. It’s as frustrating as watching Gone With The Wind or reading Pride and Prejudice without the last couple of pages.
Here, at the end of Mark’s gospel, there’s none of the characteristic immediacy we have been accustomed to. Is this really another Gone With The Wind – or is it just Gone …?
Mark is telling us something about the shock factor of what was going on. Like us, the women who came to the tomb cannot cope with resurrections; they can cope with suffering, death and despair. That’s part of life. It belongs within the pre-Easter universe.
They can cope, too, with loss and a life to be lived among the tombs, honouring and loving a dead loved one. It doesn’t shatter their devotion or their faith. What they (and we) have trouble with is a resurrection life. It’s a step too far.
Moving from Good Friday to Easter Sunday is moving from one universe to another, into a new and unimagined one. There are no map or compass bearings here and it’s scary.
The Easter event is not just a piece of biographical information about Jesus: it is about changing the rules of the universe. That’s some change. This event says that we cannot live in the same way ever again, or share the old priorities any more.
Resurrection confronts us with our past history of hurt and failure, of the pain and damage we have inflicted on others. Resurrection encourages us to leave behind the shadows and to move into the light.
That ain’t easy, no more than Kermit the Frog finds it easy being green. It is easier to live among the tombs than it is to step over the threshold into the new life of resurrection and I suspect that it’s easier to lose one’s life than it is to find it in the risen Christ.
Learning to live with resurrection is learning to live in a radically different universe, part of which is coming to terms with the end of everything that has been before, which Mark presents Jesus’ crucifixion as being.
In this Easter event, a huge element of radical decision-making is involved, followed by a process of growing into that decision. Allowing God to transform us and then going into the world to make a difference for Jesus’ sake will follow as sure as day follows night.
Easter Day is a day to throw off those old protective garments that deaden hope and condemn us to a life of mourning. Easter Day is a day of hope, of new beginnings. It is the first day of the rest of our lives.
Easter is time to start again. It is a time to be forgiven and to forgive – to leave the damage, the hurts, the wrongs and the tragedies – in the empty tomb of our old lives and to step into the glorious dawn of the resurrection.