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You Are Not Alone

The Resurrection of Our Lord

Easter Day

April 16, 2017

Mark 16:1–8

The resurrection of Jesus is the most important event in all of history. That Jesus rose from the dead changes everything. If He had not risen from the dead all would be lost. Everything hinges on whether Jesus rose or not. The Bible, as we heard in the Gospel reading today, says that He rose from the dead.

You might expect, then, that in speaking of this greatest of all events that Mark would describe Jesus coming out of the tomb or show Him appearing to people now that He was alive again. You’d probably expect the people who received the news of Him rising from the dead would be amazed and overjoyed.

But as we heard moments ago in the Gospel reading, we get none of that. Jesus is declared risen from the dead, but He isn’t there anymore. He doesn’t even appear in this resurrection account. The women who are there are so stunned that far from being overjoyed, they’re something more along the lines of terrified.

We celebrate the Resurrection of Christ with joy. We come here celebrating this greatest of all events in gladness. It’s good news, right? It’s the best news! Jesus has risen from the dead, He has conquered death. The victory of salvation has been won!

So why has the Holy Spirit inspired Mark to write an account of the resurrection where Jesus doesn’t even make an appearance and where the response is, shall we say, underwhelming?

Because God the Holy Spirit knows that today in the Twenty-First Century things aren’t so different than they were in the First Century. People today aren’t so different from people back then. Okay, we’ve come here today in joy and to celebrate, but how did you feel this morning as you were rushing to get ready for church? Joyful? Ecstatic? Or was it maybe more like stressed? How did your past week go? Everything so victorious and great that rejoicing was your automatic response? Jesus rose from the dead, remember.

The good news of Easter is that you are not alone. If you’re wondering why you’re not quick to be joyful, you’re in good company. In telling of the resurrection of Jesus Mark first says that the women went on Saturday evening and bought spices so that they could go anoint the body of Jesus. To the world Jesus dying on the cross is nothing more than what some people called Christians think is important. The women looked at the death of Christ in the same way that everyone else did, that it was the end of Jesus and the end of their hope in Him. Do you ever have doubts that Jesus could really love you so much to die for all of your sins and save you? You are not alone.

Mark then says that early on Sunday morning they went to the tomb. They were going to anoint Jesus’ body. Reason and common sense dictated that His body would be lying in the tomb. Of course, they wondered who would roll away the stone. But when they got there they saw that it was already rolled away. What they were expecting and what they saw were two different things.

When they went into the tomb there was a young man there in a white robe. They were scared, and who can blame them? What was going on? Where was Jesus’ body? Who was this person? Things were upside-down from what should have been happening.

This angelic visitor spoke 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.”

You don’t need to be afraid. You’re seeking Jesus, the one who was crucified. The thing is, He’s no longer dead, He has risen! Look, He’s no longer here. He’s going to Galilee and there you will see Him. Tell the disciples.

True, that’s a lot to take in. They were stunned. They were trying to get their bearings. But if what he said to them was true, this was cause for joy. Instead, we are told by Mark that “they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

And that’s it. That’s how it ends. That’s how Mark concludes his account of the resurrection of Jesus. They were afraid. The good news of Easter was met with astonishment and fear. If this seems strange, perhaps it shouldn’t. Perhaps it should give you comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. If you ever have doubts, or have fears, or think it is upside-down how God works, then you can take comfort in knowing you’re not alone.

We shouldn’t wonder why those women thought and felt the way they did. We should see ourselves in them. Would we have reacted any differently? Do we? Do we meet the good news, the greatest news, of Jesus rising from the grave with the greatest joy and readiness to live our lives in service to Him at every turn?

No, we’re not alone. We are sinners just as they were. We are in need of the same good news they were met with. And the good news about this good news is that we’re not alone. Jesus’ death has been accomplished. His rising from the dead, accomplished. The fact of these things is settled. How you feel about it or how you react to it doesn’t change a thing in regard to Jesus dying on the cross for the sin of the world and conquering death, hell, and Satan by rising from the tomb.

Joy is not a feeling. It is a fact. In our closing hymn we will sing of Easter triumph and Easter joy. Those women came to see that Jesus not being in that tomb forever altered the course of history and their lives. They came to see that even though they were afraid, Jesus nevertheless was risen, He was still their Lord, still their Savior, still the one who lives forever and would raise them from their own graves.

They were not alone. And neither are you. Amen.