Summary: A sermon for Easter Morning, Series B
The Resurrection of our Lord, April 12, 2009 “Series B”
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Today we come before you, Oh God, with hymns of praise as we celebrate your victory over sin and death, accomplished for us though the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus the Christ. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, help us to realize the significance of our Lord’s resurrection to our faith and daily lives, and to know his immeasurable gift of forgiving and redeeming love. This we ask in the name of our risen Lord. Amen.
Our Gospel lesson from Mark is, I must admit, not one of my favorite Easter texts. Perhaps that is why for the past 4 times that the original ending of Mark’s Gospel has surfaced to be read on Easter morning, I have chosen the alternate Gospel text from John’s Gospel. After all, don’t we want to come to worship on Easter morning, and hear from the Gospel that at least one of the disciples actually saw the risen Christ? But, having ignored this text for twelve or so years, I believe its time to visit it.
According to Mark, three faithful women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, who were there at the cross to see Jesus die, went and bought spices to anoint his body, which had been hastily buried. We can assume from this detail, that these three women truly loved Jesus, in spite of the fact that he had been executed as a criminal.
Early Sunday morning, these three women set out to the tomb in which Jesus’ body had been lain. They made this journey, not just to give Jesus a proper burial, but to assuage their grief. And as many of us know, grief has a way of causing us not to think too clearly, to ignore the practical situations of life. Thus, in the midst of their journey, it dawns on them that they were not able to roll away the stone that sealed the entrance to the tomb, to gain access to Jesus’ body.
But they kept on with their journey, and when they could see the tomb, they were surprised that the stone had already been moved. And when they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, just sitting there, and they were alarmed. Who among us wouldn’t be frightened to death on encountering such a situation? Even if the man did say, “Don’t be alarmed,” it would take a while for the adrenaline to return to normal levels.
But their shock did not end with the mysterious young man’s admonition to be calm. He also told these grieving women that the body of Jesus that they came to anoint was not there, that he had risen from the dead, and that they should go and tell the disciples to go to Galilee, where Jesus would meet them.
But instead of jumping up and down with joy, instead of singing joyous hymns of praise to God, as we do this morning, Mark tells us that these women left the empty tomb, being seized by terror and amazement, and said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. And with these words, many scholars believe, the original Gospel of Mark ends.