Summary: We have received the same message at the empty tomb as the women did. What will we do with it? Keep it a secret? Run away in fear? Go and tell?
The Unfinished Story
Do you know the best way to make sure news spreads quickly? Tell someone NOT to tell anyone else! That’s what makes gossip so tempting. We love to hear and share stories about others, especially when we’re not supposed to! Throughout the gospel of Mark, Jesus travels throughout the countryside preaching and teaching. He heals, he does miracles, he raises the dead. And after each of these powerful signs that reveal his identity as the Messiah, the Son of God, he tells those involved to tell no one what they had seen or who he was or that he was the Son of God, the Messiah. And you know what happened? Time and again, those who had been healed, those who had been released from the clutches of a demonic possession, those who had witnessed Christ’s miracles went and told others. Mark 1:27 says, The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching – and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. News of this “great teacher and healer” spread so quickly that soon Christ could go nowhere without crowds following him, without people bringing the sick and lame to be healed, without people calling for him to perform signs and wonders.
The women who went to the tomb that first Easter morning were women whose lives had been touched by Christ. They had travelled with him for three years, hearing him preach and teach, witnessing his miracles and the signs he performed. They followed him to Calvary and then followed his body being carried by Joseph of Arimithea to the tomb in which he was laid. These were brave women. They were women of courage. They knew they were risking their lives returning to the tomb in order to anoint the body. And yet, they went to the tomb because somebody had to. They went because the men were too scared to come out of hiding. They went because it was the women’s job to anoint the bodies for burial. They went because they were in mourning, and they wanted to see him just one last time. They went to the tomb because all that they had lived for for the last three years had been taken away from them and they felt compelled to honor him and give him a proper burial.
Bravely Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Solome came to the tomb that morning. Their biggest concern was not what they would find in the tomb (for it was the women’s job to prepare the bodies for burial). They weren’t overly concerned about the stench of the three day dead body that would greet them. But what worried them most was how they were going to roll the stone away. These were not timid and fearful women. Even after arriving at the tomb and seeing that the stone had been rolled away, the Marys and Solome walked in to the dark cavern, searching for the body of their Lord. But what they encountered there was even too much for their fortitude! The tomb was empty! The place where they saw Joseph lay the body of Christ was empty! There was nothing there!
And then all of a sudden there was something – no, not something…someone - there! A young man, dressed in a white robe was sitting where the body of Christ had been laid. One look at him and they could tell he was not of this world – his robe was too white, his manner was too calm – and then he spoke. He spoke saying those words that angels often say, “Do not be alarmed!” (Yeh, that’s easier said than done.) Don’t be alarmed? The stone has been rolled away. The tomb is empty. And there’s this strange guy talking to us. Don’t be alarmed? Get real!
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said, “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here! See the place where they laid him.” This was all too much for these brave women. For these women who had witnessed the lame walk; the blind see; the deaf hear; the lepers cleansed, this THIS was all too much! This was the last straw! Who was this guy? He didn’t look familiar. He hadn’t traveled with them, so how did he know all this about Jesus? And what did he mean by Jesus had been raised?
And then he continued to speak, “Go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”
How did he know that? How did this stranger know that on the last night when Jesus was with them, as they celebrated the Passover, Jesus said, “After I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” (Mark 14:28) The women were certain this stranger wasn’t in the upper room with them. How could he know this?