Posts Tagged ‘Sermon for Easter Year B’

'DSC_0017' photo (c) 2009, Ted - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

It’s a challenge to preach on Mark 16:1-8.  Here is one of my attempts at it.

It’s Wide Open!

A Sermon on Mark 16:1-8

On their way to the tomb, the women thought their big problem was the stone sealing the entrance.  And it was very big and heavy–huge, Mark notes.  The women wondered aloud who would roll it back for them.    But this wasn’t all that big of a problem.  If worst came to worst, and nobody was around, they could always go find somebody in town and come back.

The stone was their problem, the women thought.  Get that one solved, then they could finish giving Jesus a proper burial, and then they could head home to Galilee.  They were filled with sorrow, of course.  But they knew what to expect: grieving, but also going on with life as best they could.  Get the stone problem solved, do one last act of caring for Jesus, then go home and figure out what next.

It was a shock to find the tomb already wide open!  What’s more, somebody was in there, and it wasn’t Jesus!  He was gone.  And here was a messenger dressed all in white.  “Don’t be afraid,” the messenger said.  Their hearts must have nearly stopped.  “Don’t be afraid,” he said, the first thing that just about every messenger from God says.

“I know you’re looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the one they nailed on the cross.  He’s been raised up.  He’s not here any more.  Look and see: the place where he was is now empty.  Now you get going.  Tell his disciples, and Peter, that he is going on ahead of you all to Galilee.  You will see him there, exactly as he told you.”

Notice: the messenger didn’t say, “There you might see him,” or “There you can see him,” or “There you should see him.”  The messenger said, “There you will see him.”  No question.  They were definitely going to see him.

The place for them to go was home, to Galilee.  But Galilee was so much more: it was the place where they met Jesus the first time.  In Mark chapter 1, Jesus starts his ministry by moving into Galilee after the arrest of John the Baptist.  The gospel story is getting ready to start all over again in Galilee.  Galilee was the place where the disciples and the women all first got called, where Jesus taught hard lessons, healed the sick, battled demons and so much more.  What would Jesus do this time?  If past history is any indication, Jesus was going to do much more than simply greet them, “Hi, friends!  How are you?  Good to see you again.”  He was going to ask something of them.  He might even start in again on that business about the call to take up the cross.

No wonder the women were afraid!  This isn’t cowardice or timidity here.  This is holy fear in the presence of God, as when the prophet Ezekiel fell down in a heap when he saw the glory of God.  As when the shepherds feared a great fear when angels appeared to them.  As when the woman who had been healed from the flow of blood by touching Jesus’ robe came to him in fear and trembling and told him the whole story.  As when the disciples were amazed when Jesus stilled the storm.  This is appropriate, holy awe.  They were stunned.

As if an intense experience of the presence of God weren’t enough to blow these faithful women away, there was more.  Resurrection means there is now no more status quo!  If the dead stay dead, you generally know what to expect.  But if the dead don’t stay dead, who knows what will happen? (more…)

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