Christ is risen, indeed!
And he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you!’ (Mark 16:6-7 ESV). Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! Here at ILC we have been reading through the Gospel of Mark. In many ways we have already seen how Mark’s account of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is unique. Not surprisingly this morning we read of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and we are filled with a mix of emotions.
How are we to understand the complicated feelings of the women who had gone to the tomb that early morning? They had come to face the saddest task any of us ever faces – the death and burial of a dear friend, teacher, son and person in whom they had placed all their hopes. As many of the oldest manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark end with this perplexing image “and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid,” we can get the sense of the shock that Mark and Peter were trying to get across. This “testimony” is the most astonishing and earth-shaking news ever. “He lives!” “He is not here!” “Go! Tell the disciples to meet Him in Galilee just as He said!” Isaiah had foreseen how the LORD would “… swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 25:8 ESV). Just as He said! And now it has come to be.
These women trembled with fear as they heard the word of the “young man dressed in white robes.” In this way Mark’s Gospel captures for us the very early verbal testimony of the eyewitnesses. The other Gospels and Paul remind us of this foundation as they explain in even greater detail of Jesus’ resurrection, the blurry-eyed greetings, the walk on the road to Emmaus, the appearance behind locked doors, or even the lakeside breakfast in Galilee – “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 ESV). Yet, like those women all we have is this word. He is alive! He is not dead! We stand in awe, yet we still face many challenges each and every day. We shake with fear, but also experience His peace. What no eye has seen, God has revealed to the entire world that our lives would be the very testimony of the resurrection story.
Coronavirus and a worldwide pandemic is still a current situation. The economic impact is still heavy upon many whose jobs and daily lives turned upside down. Illness, addiction, depression, loneliness and anxiety continue to wage war against us all. War and violence is still impacting the lives of many. If we are honest, we live in fear, even of fear itself. We also recognize that we are extremely blessed. We aren’t alone! His Word tells us to be glad and rejoice even in the midst of all our troubles, because He lives! Mark’s Gospel is the COVID-19 Gospel! But in a different way. While we may be excited to see more and more people vaccinated, vigilance is still the main message. While you may face fears beyond your ability to control, He has the victory in this and all things. Death will not have the final word. Jesus lives! The unexpected absence of Jesus of Nazareth is the foundation of the Christian message. These words, “He is not here!” are the lifeblood of our faith as He calls us from our fear and trembling to share this good news with the entire world.