Daily Devotion – April 8, 2021 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

Mark 16:1-8
16:1 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.
16:2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.
16:3 They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”
16:4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.
16:5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.
16:6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.
16:7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”
16:8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.

As with all of the unexpected ministry of Jesus, his resurrection is revealed upside down from our expectations for the person who conquered death for one and all.

Three women, finishing their loving undertaker work, “family” members for Jesus who were accomplishing all that the law commanded before a dead body was sealed away forever, came to the grave. They were asking the same kinds of logistical questions funeral directors and workers still ask: “Did someone contact the graveyard folks? Has the grave been dug? When will the marker be placed.? Where should people stand? Will it be raining?” This is the work of laying a loved one to rest. They are sad, but they are matter-of-fact, because this work surely must be completed.

Not only can they get in easily to the tomb, to their great surprise, but a young man in white is there waiting for them, also speaking matter-of-factly. “Here’s what’s happening. Here’s what to do. Go and do it.”

They felt terror, amazement, and fear. Terror because, well, the deceased body they came to prepare was missing, and the young man said “risen.” From the dead! Amazement, because you really don’t expect that sort of thing to happen. Ever. And fear – from the Romans or the Jews, who might blame friends of Jesus for this missing cherished body.  And so they said nothing to anyone.

So where and when does the next chapter begin? In the Gospel of Mark there was no next chapter. This is where the story ended. Why, do you think?  It certainly captures the imagination, being left suddenly, with no resolution, doesn’t it? And what if that had been where the Jesus story had ended?

Gracious God, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for the first disciples and the apostles, who opened the story of Jesus to the world beyond Israel. Thank you for loving the whole world enough to let us into the story and let it become our story.  Amen.