Second Sunday of Easter, Faith United Church of Christ, Muscatine, Iowa. Photo: TLClark, 4/7/13.
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they could go and anoint Jesus’ dead body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb. They were saying to each other, “Who’s going to roll the stone away from the entrance for us?”
When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. (And it was a very large stone!) Going into the tomb, they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right side; and they were startled.
But he said to them, “Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.[a] He has been raised. He isn’t here. Look, here’s the place where they laid him. Go, tell his disciples, especially Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.”
Overcome with terror and dread, they fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.[b]
[a] Or the Crucified One [b] In most critical editions of the Gk New Testament, the Gospel of Mark ends at 16:8.
Mark 16:1-8, Common English Bible (C) 2011
That’s a wrap.
In the most ancient editions of the Gospel of Mark (which was the first gospel written), it all ends here: an empty tomb, terror and dread. No sighting of Jesus. No sign of the rest of the disciples. No more words.
To end on a note of fear is neither uplifting nor hope-filled.
And yet it’s my favorite ending. It leaves so much to the imagination. It recognizes that whatever happened and whatever comes next cannot be fully explained. It is a matter of faith.
Clearly the woman talked about what they saw and heard at the tomb. Jesus must have met them and the other disciples – including Peter – in Galilee. Otherwise there’s no story. Jesus would have been forgotten like the now unknown traveling preachers, teachers, healers, magicians, and story-tellers of his time.
The tomb is empty.
Jesus is risen!
No matter where you are on life’s journey of faith or non-faith, from whatever religious or cultural tradition of your past or your present, may you have peace in your life this day and every day, Teressa