“Overcome with terror and dread, they fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” Mark 16:8 (NRSV)
Mark’s version of the resurrection in Chapter 16, verses 1-8, has always fascinated me. I mean, think about it! Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome head to the tomb, trying to figure out how they will roll away the huge stone that covers the place where Jesus was buried. Their intentions were to give him a proper anointing since they didn’t have time to do it after his body was taken down from the cross (the Sabbath was almost upon them, and they would not have been able to do anything that seemed like “work” on the Sabbath).
So, when they arrive at the tomb, they discover that the stone is already rolled away, and there is some ethereal being there telling them that Jesus has been raised from the dead. (Notice that the angel didn’t say, “Weren’t you listening to him when he was telling you all this?”) They are instructed to go tell Peter and the others that Jesus has gone ahead of them to Galilee and will meet them there.
Who could really blame the women for being terrified. This is not an ordinary event! They NEVER would have expected to find Jesus gone and to be told that he was raised from the dead. We might think that this shouldn’t have been a surprise, but people in Biblical days weren’t really all that different from us, in fact, in some ways they were far more superstitious because they didn’t have the scientific explanations for everything like we do. Someone being raised from the dead was NOT a common event!
What fascinates me the most is that the writer of Mark left the gospel with this “Gone With the Wind” type of ending. We are left hanging, wondering what really happened. Obviously, they told someone because the writer would not have written the story! So, what was the intention behind such a “cliff hanger?” I can only guess and reflect on what others have written.
Maybe the writer is telling us that the story isn’t over but that it has only begun. In “Gone With the Wind,” Scarlett weeps on the steps of her great mansion as Rhett Butler walks out of her life. Then, gradually she raises her head and delivers that memorable line about getting him back tomorrow. Her story wasn’t over but continuing. It wasn’t too late after all! She would find a way to bring back the man she loved.
Jesus was raised from the dead. It’s only the beginning. We don’t have to hide or worry or feel abandoned because he is alive, and we have been commissioned to carry on his work. We are the ones who manifest Christ to the world as we continue the story of God’s kingdom here on earth. All is not lost; there is hope; there is promise; there is life.
May you have a blessed Easter as we live in this world as and “Easter people.”