Sunday 01 April 2018

Bible Book:

“So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” (v. 8)

Mark 16:1-18 Sunday 1 April 2018

Psalm: Psalm 118


The story of the Resurrection begins with the practical details that accompany any funeral. The women were busy with all that needed to be done. The Sabbath ends at sunset, so Mark’s Gospel tells us how they went out in the evening to buy the spices they thought they needed. Then, when the light of dawn made it safe for them to move a little further, they went to the garden – but they were anxious: was the stone going to prevent them reaching the Lord’s body? If you’ve ever had a funeral to deal with, you’ll recognise the scenario. There were a hundred and one small details to arrange and little problems to overcome, in order to say goodbye to the beloved in the best way possible.

And then the women discovered that there was no-one to say goodbye to, no body to tend with their spices, but instead an unknown young man, giving them unbelievable news. The familiar patterns of life and death were broken, and Jesus had been raised. We hear this news with joy, but there is no joy in the women’s response, only amazement and terror. The old, familiar rhythms of mourning and loss have gone, and what will take their place?

Scholars have argued for centuries about the ending of Mark’s Gospel. Did a page drop out of the manuscript, or was it really meant to end like this? There are a variety of attempts at a different ending, though it’s noticeable that several of them also present the Resurrection as unbelievable. Why does Mark seem to leave the story hanging in this way?

Perhaps there is an explanation for this ending. The women’s flight fits into a pattern in this Gospel. The disciples ran away from Gethsemane (Mark 14:50). Peter denied his Lord (Mark 14:72). Only the women were left to watch from a distance (Mark 15:40), and now this earth-shattering news destroys even their courage. So how did the good news of the Resurrection emerge from this group of broken, terrified people? Only through the power of God! Human beings don’t have the capacity in themselves to make sense of what God does, still less to communicate it. God’s grace alone enables Jesus’ disciples to recognise that in him, we see ‘Jesus Christ, the Son of God’ (Mark 1:1). God’s grace alone enables us to grasp the awesome story of the Resurrection and to share that good news – as Mark shares it with us.

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

To Ponder

  • How might you begin to tell someone about Jesus’ resurrection?
  • In your opinion, does the Church get the balance right between celebrating Easter and the joy of the resurrection, and recognising its earth-shattering potential to create terror and amazement? In what way?
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