At three, Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani,” which means, “My God, my God, why have you left me?” [Then] Jesus let out a loud cry and died.
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. 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.”
I love a good television series, especially when it ends with an exciting cliffhanger. Only to press the "next episode" button, realizing that it's past midnight and I’ve got two more shows to finish.
Mark's Gospel is probably my favorite narrative. What's unique about his Easter message is the ending. We are told about Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome. Reading these verses, you can't help but empathize with these women. They're grieving a loss – a loss of a friend, a teacher, and a savior. But then they are met by an unknown messenger. "Don't be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised. He isn't here. Look, here's the place where they laid him. Go and tell!" (Emphasis included.)
The story goes on to tell us these women were overcome with terror and dread and didn't say anything to anyone because they were afraid. If you're familiar with Mark, this was probably the original ending to his whole gospel. I remember reading this for the first time, scratching my head, asking, "Wait, that's it? What happens next? What kind of Easter is this?” Mark ultimately left me with a cliffhanger, and I wanted more!
Thankfully, I wasn't alone. Over time, scribes and theologians would add an easier ending, expanding on Jesus' teachings and return. However, the original ending of the Easter account leaves us with no resolution – or does it?
I believe Mark wanted us to continue the story. These women, who are grieving, who are afraid, are now met with good news: "He has been raised – he is going ahead of you into Galilee." What they thought was the end, is now only the beginning. Today we celebrate the risen Christ, a promise of hope, faith, and love, knowing that we can not only face today but have the courage to face tomorrow.
I invite you to join me in praying this Easter prayer:
Lord, you are so good. We love you. Thank you for loving us, first.
We are reminded today of that first Easter morning. When everything seemed dark, your love broke through. Your love was too strong, too wide, too deep for death to hold.
Empower us now and remind us of that love today, that we may go into the world, sharing this incredible news.
— Tino Herrera, Congregational Care Pastor
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