Summary: The women were surprised to discover the empty tomb, just as we are surprised when we see the risen Jesus in our lives and in our world.
Mark 16:1-8 “Surprised!”
Most of the time we journey through life on cruise control. We begin the day expecting the day to be just like every other day. Our routine is set and rarely do we vary from it.
Every so often, though, we are surprised by something—something we didn’t see coming. That something could be something not so good, like getting a letter announcing that we are being audited by the IRS. Or, it could be a pleasant surprise, like having our son or daughter bring home an “A” on an important test, or having a spur of the moment date night with our significant other. There are also those rare occasions when we are unpleasantly surprised only to be super surprised when it transforms in to a pleasant surprise—like a pink slip that turns in to an opportunity at a much better job.
Today we celebrate a surprise—probably the biggest surprise in the world.
On Easter morning, three women approached the tomb where they had laid Jesus’ body the Friday before. They were expecting that they would find a corpse. They anticipated nothing more than a morning spent lovingly embalming Jesus’ body. They were on cruise control. Death was a common part of life for them. All too frequently they had dealt with the death of a family member or friend.
When they approached the tomb, they were unpleasantly surprised. The stone that had been rolled in front of the entrance to the tomb had been rolled away. Usually that meant only one thing—grave robbers. They rushed to the tomb and entered it only to discover that it was empty.
Their unpleasant surprise, turned into a pleasant surprise when they saw a young man dressed in a white rob who said to them, “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised, he is not here.” The women didn’t understand fully what had happened. All they knew is that something wonderful happened. They were soon to discover that their lives and the world in which they lived would be changed forever.
The women rush out of the tomb in terror and amazement. That’s where Mark stops his story. It’s a cliff hanger, with the readers of the gospel wondering what would happen next.
We know as we come to the end of the gospel that Jesus has been raised from the dead. We could say that Jesus is alive and well and living on planet earth. We find out that Jesus, who lives, is full of surprises.
Living life in a relationship with a living savior means that cruise control is no longer the best option. Rather we are invited to live in anticipation of what will happen.
• Jesus lives and he guides us and walks with us through life. He surprises us with a new perspective on life and a new purpose for living.
• Jesus lives and he surprises us with courage in the face of danger, comfort in the midst of struggles, and hope in hopeless situations.
• Jesus lives and he surprises us by accomplishing the impossible—changing us into his image. He surprises us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc.
• Jesus lives and he surprises us with answers to our prayers and by inviting us to walk along paths that we would never have imagined.
THE TOMB IS EMPTY—JESUS LIVES
We live in a world where fewer and fewer believe that Jesus lives. We live in a world filled with fear, hate, selfishness, and despair.
The centurion on Good Friday saw that Jesus was the Son of God, but the Romans can’t be trusted to share that good news with others. The women see that the tomb is empty, but they are terrorized and amazed and they tell no one.
Those who know that Jesus lives, and have been surprised in life by Jesus’ power and presence are the ones who are now responsible for telling others. We are the ones who are able to offer hope, faith, love and comfort to the people who we meet and the world in which we live. Jesus lives and the world is full of surprises—good surprises.
The tomb is empty. Jesus has risen from the dead. Life is no longer the same; it is no longer normal. We shout, “He is risen,” and enter the world with expectation at being surprised by God’s presence and power. Amen