Summary: After encountering Jesus the women were commanded to go and tell. We carry on this mission because we too have encountered Jesus.
Mark 16:1-8 “The Encounter”
Routines, even in the face of death, are a part of life. They were present during the time of Jesus just like they are present now. The women were involved in a routine activity as they made their way to the tomb. They had not had time to properly embalm the body before the Sabbath began. Certain things were Standard Operating Procedures—routines and the women were determined to complete them. Though we may leave the embalming to morticians, our treatment of death is wrapped in routines. We routinely send sympathy cards, bake casseroles, and attend the viewing/wake or funeral service.
There is nothing inherently bad about routines except that they blind us to the new things that are happening and the surprises that God has in store for us.
SURPRISE AT THE EMPTY TOMB
The women walked toward the tomb on that first Easter morning expecting to encounter only death. Certainly that was the routine. The probably talked about the embalming process as they walked and assigned tasks in order to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
During their visiting, they realized that they hadn’t arranged for anyone to open the tomb for them. The entrance was blocked by a large, heavy millstone. The stone would be virtually impossible for them to move. The women plod on, though, allowing nothing to deter them. They were determined women and they knew that where there is a will there is a way.
The women arrive at the tomb and are surprised. It was not as they had expected. The stone, which they had worried about, was rolled away from the entrance. When they entered the tomb they had more surprises. Jesus’ body was not in the tomb. There was a young man in a white robe, however—obviously an angel—sitting where they had laid the body on Friday afternoon.
Their routines were broken. Surprise tinged with fear replaced their grief, and they found life instead of death. Easter encourages us to expect surprises and God to move in ways that we don’t imagine. Easter also reminds us that there is nothing beyond God’s power.
THE MAN IN WHITE
The angel’s first words to the women were, “Don’t fear.” The scene was disconcerting. Jesus’ body was not in the tomb. They had found life instead of death. They didn’t understand what had happened or what would be happening.
The angel what had happened. He proclaimed that Jesus has been raised from the dead to the women. The women probably started to remember Jesus’ words that he would be raised in three days.
The women looked around the tomb and saw that the grave clothes were as they had left them except that they contained no body. It was obvious that Jesus’ body had not been stolen. Grave robbers would never be so neat. Nor had Jesus resuscitated in the coolness of the tomb and walked out. The evidence only supported the words of the angel. Jesus had been raised from the dead.
Not only did the women discover that God was full of surprises, but also they began to realize that Jesus had conquered death. With the defeat of death came the promise of new life. This defeat of death and the gift of new life were not limited to our physical existence. In our journey through life we experience many deaths—relationships, jobs to mention a couple. In each of these deaths we have the promise of new life as God moves dramatically in our lives.
The angel did not allow the women to linger at the tomb. Instead, he gave them specific instructions to go and tell the disciples what had happened.
At first, when the women headed to the disciples, they were afraid and silent. They didn’t fully understand what had happened. They weren’t sure that the disciples would believe them if the told the disciples that they had seen an angel. Eventually, however, the women told the disciples and continued to spread the word about what had happened at the tomb.
The Holy Spirit moved through their words and changed the world. He has also used those words to change our lives. We can’t continue in our old routines. God’s power, love, and grace have surprised us, and we have been called to a new mission.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has given us the forgiveness of sins and also eternal life and a renewed relationship with God. But, God didn’t stop his activity at the tomb. God continues to move.
Today, as we celebrate Easter—the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we are thankful for what God has done, expectant of the surprises that God has in store for us, and anticipate demonstrations of God’s power that are beyond our imaginations.