Day 4: Mark 16:1-8
1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 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.
6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
The phrase, “Do not be afraid!” is often the first statement uttered by messengers of God in the Gospels. Remember in the birth narratives – when the angel appeared to Mary and the shepherds; even to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist – the opening greeting was “Do not be afraid.” I was taught as a youngster that the reason angels said “Do not be afraid” was that they must have been scary looking or very large. The older I get and the more I read these stories, however, the more I wonder if the reason for the disclaimer “Do not be afraid” is that for many of us the greatest fear in our lives is change. When angels showed up to people in the first century they declared that radical change was about to take place. To Mary and Zechariah, the angels declared that they would have children who would challenge the socio-political-religious status quo. Here at the tomb I think that the messenger calls out, “Do not be afraid” because the news of the resurrection would change everything for these women.
They knew heartache very well.
They were already two days into grieving.
They had already begun to imagine average lives coping with the heartache of knowing that their teacher and friend was dead.
But then they discovered that the resurrection had occurred and that the ministry of Jesus in this world had only just begun. Furthermore, they were to bear the weight of being the first post-resurrection evangelists.
I am reminded that in the life of resurrection Jesus has for you and me there is much at stake and much unknown. Yet, if we take courage and pursue a life of resurrection through the Spirit, we will find a life of eternal value and meaning which is far greater than a life pursuing the trivialities of the status quo.
I hope that during this devotional series you will subject yourself to the possibilities and whispers of the Holy Spirit calling you into a life of resurrection.
Jonathan Burkey | Worship Pastor, Lima Community Church