Reader: “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.”
Response: “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!”
Scripture: Mark 16:1-8
Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.
When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”
The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
This drawing is based on the discovery of some 61 such rolling stone tombs.
Have you ever noticed how much specific detailed description is given in the Scriptures in regard to Jesus’ burial and the events that followed? Have you ever wondered why the gospel writers took such pain? They were eyewitnesses describing details. Fairy tales are very light on specifics if you’ve ever noticed. Made up stories focus on action and motives. Details are unimportant and boring.
Read today’s passage again noting specifics. 1) It was Saturday evening after sundown―Sabbath was over so what followed was legal. 2) Three women (one more than the two required witnesses by Jewish law (Deut.19:15) were witnesses to the resurrection even though they were confused as to the empty tomb. 3) We know what the women did and why―they purchased burial spices to cover the stench of the decaying body which had already been wrapped with spices (embalmed). 4) Early Sunday morning just at sunrise, a specific time is given―we are recording chronological history, not making up a story―the three women headed to the tomb with their purchased spices. 5) On the way, they discussed how they were going to be able to roll the massive stone away from the tomb entrance, a real problem for them. 6) Upon arrival they discovered the stone had already been rolled away from the entrance and a young man wearing a white robe was in the tomb sitting on the right side. Again, we have specific details: the man present was young, clothed in white and sitting on the right side. 7) Note how specific were the words of the angel: the person in the tomb was Jesus of Nazareth, the one crucified. He isn’t here; he is raised from the dead. His body was here, but since he’s alive, it’s gone. He leaves no doubt as to who, when and what happened. 8) Mark, the gospel writer, records the details of the conversation the angel had with the women. How did he know what was said? The information in the gospel of Mark came largely from Peter. We learn from a different gospel writer that the angel told the women to go tell the disciples and Peter what had happened. In that way, Peter knew the content of what had happened (Jn.20:2). 9) The women were so overwhelmed with what they all encountered that they ran from the tomb trembling and confused. Shortly thereafter, they told the disciples and in a measure of special grace, they told Peter in person as well. What an astounding event they experienced firsthand.
Since Jewish law considered women to be ineligible witnesses, the fact that their testimony was accepted is further evidence of the truth of the resurrection. The early Church would not have invented a story with women as the primary source witnesses. The fact that the women were the first ones to relay the resurrection further confirms it as historical fact. This event, with this many eye-witnesses and this many details speaks forcefully of truth. Should you ever run into someone who says the resurrection of Jesus was a story that was passed down word of mouth and subject to error and exaggeration, remind them that people who told the story were the people in the story. The resurrection of Jesus is based on primary source material and it is the truth. The question is, do they believe the truth? The challenge to the disciples and to us is to spread this good news to everyone,
Music: “I’ve Just Seen Jesus” Sandi Patty & Larnelle Harris A gospel classic.
It is truly right and good, always and everywhere, with our whole heart and mind and voice, to praise you, the invisible, almighty, and eternal God, and your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who at the feast of the Passover paid for us the debt of Adam’s sin, and by his blood delivered your faithful people. You brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the Red Sea on dry land. All who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of life. For he broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose bodily, victorious from the grave. How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving-kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son. How wonderful when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn. It casts out pride and hatred, and brings peace and concord. How blessed when earth and heaven are joined and man is reconciled to God. Let us live in simple transparency this day. In the name of Jesus Christ, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. ―adapted Daniel Sharp from Easter Vigil prayer, BCP