Could it be that the first Easter morning was full of sadness,
disbelief and hearts that could not absorb the good news!

_____________________________________________________________________________

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the
mother of James, and Salome brought spices, that they
might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on
the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the
sun had risen. They said among themselves, "Who will roll
away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?" But when
they looked up, they saw the stone had been rolled away--
for it was very large. Entering the tomb, they saw a young
man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side;
and they were alarmed.

But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus
of
Nazareth, who was crucified. He is 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 into Galilee; there
you will see Him,
as He said to you."

So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they
trembled
and were amazed. They said nothing to anyone,
for they were
afraid.
                                                         Mark 16:1-8 NKJV, condensed


                             Mark's Resurrection Morning

Mark tells us that three women went to the garden where Jesus
was buried; very early, at first light. Two Marys and the mother
of disciples, James and John. Mary Magdalene was the ringleader,
her name always heads the list. She was the one who led the
others to the tomb without first making prior arrangements to
have the stone rolled away. They had watched Joseph place the
body in a cave-like resting place. They had seen that it took
several men to seal the opening to the tomb. But off these
women went. Facts didn't seem to faze them!

We've all met people like Mary Magdalene. No time to delay
when her heart told her to go. They were intending to anoint
the body of Jesus and somehow she would find a way into that
tomb even if a boulder blocked the door. "We'll worry about
that problem when we get there! Things will work out."
Faith or
foolishness? You make the call.

She was probably praying all the way there. "Lord, help us get
inside the tomb!""
Just like we do in desperation when we don't
know what else to do--Lord, help us. Repeated 100 x over! And
sure enough, when they got to the tomb, the stone was rolled
back! Imagine their surprise. It was going to be easier than they
had expected.

But that's when some very unexpected things began to happen.
Things which even Mary couldn't dismiss. All three of these
women knew Jesus quite well, but they had never seen an angel
before. They had been so focused upon their plan to anoint the
body of Jesus with all the love in their hearts, that they couldn't
grasp the sudden change in plans. They wanted to see the dead
body of Jesus, not an angel, even if that angel was telling them
Jesus was alive.

The shining young man in white was expecting them and told
them everything they needed to know. "Cool it! You're looking for
Jesus. He's not in this grave. He's alive; not dead! See, this tomb is
empty. Now, go; tell the others--including Peter--that he will meet you
in Galilee. Remember Jesus told you all this himself before he died."

The grieving women were not hearing, only seeing. And what
they saw was that the body was not where it was supposed to
be. The angel tried to speak to them, but it was no use. These
women understood death; they knew how to prepare a corpse
for burial. They did not know the meaning of resurrection. If
Jesus was not in the grave, then where was he? Confusion and
chaos reigned, and they ran away in fear, not knowing what to
do or where to go. It takes time to process new and unwanted,
unbelievable information.

If you look in your Bible, you are likely to see that Mark's
original Gospel ended with verse 8. You will find a footnote
indicating that verses 9 through 16 are not found in the oldest
manuscripts. It must have been commonly agreed upon that
Mark didn't have a proper ending. The final word in Jesus'
kingdom is neither fear nor silence. So a postscript was proposed
and added to newer manuscripts. It's not difficult to see why
scribes in later generations would do this. Gospel means "good
news". But it's hardly good news if the story of Jesus ends with
fear and trembling on the part of his followers.

While the other three Gospels give us a fuller picture of our
Lord's resurrection, I believe Mark portrays an accurate snapshot
of what was happening that first Easter morning. True, Jesus
was victorious over death, sin and suffering; but his disciples
were slow to believe and wallowed in fear and alarm for awhile.
Maybe the reason we object to Mark's gloomy version is because
we know these characters better than we want to admit. Their
doubts and fears walk in our shoes! And rather than face that
truth we pretend all is well as we proclaim, "Christ is risen
indeed!"

The Psalmist had it right--weeping may endure for the night,
but joy comes in the morning. The night of fear and doubt and
sorrow is longer for some of us than for others. But the holy
scriptures are a call to faith. To those who believe, Joy does
indeed ride in on the wings of morning.

 

Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further
study or reflection.

 

Icebreaker: What are your memories of going somewhere at first light?

 

We've all met certain people and said, "If anybody can do it,
he/she can." Mary Magdalene was someone like that. Her confidence
inspired others to follow her example.
            Describe someone you know who fits that description.

 

What do you make of the fact that it was women, and not men,
who got to the empty tomb first on resurrection day?
            The men didn't believe the women's tale. Do you think if
            it was the other way around, the women would have
            believed the men's tale?
Think of a time when you didn't believe news that was reported to you.
            Why did you not believe it?

 

Name some things that frighten you, or that silence you.
How does intense grief affect how you see, hear or understand things?

 

Mary Magdalene, Mary and Salome went to the tomb not knowing
how to remove the boulder that prohibited entrance. They didn't
wait to get the stone removed first before they got their spices
in hand and took off. Scripture tells us God favors those, like
Abraham in Genesis 12, who go in faith without having answers
to all of their questions.
            When challenged to act in faith,  we often respond, "Yes, but. . . ."
                        What are some of your "buts  . . . "?
            How do you determine what is faith and what is foolishness?
            Explain how faith can be both foolish and wise at the same time.

  

Do you find it troubling that Mark ended his Gospel with fear?
            Why or why not?
Look up the section added later (Mark 16:9-16). Do you think
that's an adequate ending for Mark's Gospel?
            If it were up to you to pen a proper ending, what would you write?

 

Resurrection morning sounds chaotic. What would it take to calm
the chaos?
             Do you think you would have done any better than the original
             cast of  characters in this text?   Explain your answer.

 

Relate one thing from the Gospel accounts that is Good News for you.
            When announcing the birth of Jesus to Mary, the angel
            said (Luke 1:37), "With God nothing will be impossible."   
            Is it also correct to conclude that with God there is no
            such thing as news too good to be true?

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