From the Gospel of Mark 16:1-8
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and
Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Jesus. And very early on
the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had
been saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance
to the tomb?" When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large,
had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man,
dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he
said to them, "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was
crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.
But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there
you will see him, just as he told you." So they went out and fled from the tomb, for
terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
Each of the writers of the Four Gospels tells the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and
resurrection differently. The Four Gospels agree that Jesus was crucified by
people who rejected his message, refuting the validity of Jesus’ proclamation of the
Kingdom of God actually coming from God. Also, the Four Gospels agree that
Jesus’ body was placed in a tomb and was raised to new life three days later. Yet,
the specifics of the story are not shared between the four, distinct versions of Jesus’
This morning, we hear the story from Mark’s Gospel.
Some of us believe that Mark was a witness to many of these events. He was a
young boy living with his family in Jerusalem. Tradition suggests that he was the
son of the owner of the house who hosted Jesus’ Last Supper.
Many of us think that a passage from Mark’s Gospel refers to none other than the
young boy, Mark, whose curiosity compelled him to secretly follow his house
guests to the Garden of Gethsemane. Mark 15:51-52 reads: A certain young man
was following (Jesus), wearing nothing but a linen cloth. (Those with swords and
clubs sent from the ruling religious elders) caught hold of him, but he left the linen
cloth and ran off naked.
Tradition also tells us that Mark became the friend and personal scribe of the
disciple Peter. Later, as a young man, Mark accompanied the Apostle Paul
on a missionary journey.
Concerning Jesus’ empty tomb, Mark’s Gospel discloses that: (three women close
to Jesus, unexpectedly encountered) a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting
on the right side of (the burial slab); and they were startled. But he said to them,
“Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.
He has been raised… But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of
you to Galilee; there you will see him…”
This mysterious young man in white clothing communicates a message brimming
Not only does he announce Jesus’ miraculous resurrection, he also declares
forgiveness and inclusion of those who abandoned and betrayed Jesus.
The young man singles out Peter.
Peter was the ringleader of the disciples. He was the boisterous one. The one
rarely quiet. The one who swore to protect Jesus. The one pledging his unfaltering
allegiance with the words: “Even though all become deserters, I will not.” (Mark
In his astonishing announcement, the mysterious man singles out Peter, the disciple
who promised fidelity, yet denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed twice.
It is a message Peter was both shocked and relieved to hear. Peter needed to hear
that he was forgiven. Not only was Jesus his friend and teacher, Jesus was also
Peter’s hope, “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Mark 8:16)
Jesus is raised from the dead. Peter’s loved one is alive. And, not only alive, but
willing to forgive his shameful, self-protecting betrayal.
But, there is a problem. How did Peter hear that Jesus was alive and he was
The oldest known copy of Mark’s Gospel closes where our Gospel reading ends.
Biblical scholars agree that the language and theology of the verses following the
ancient conclusion to the Gospel do not compliment the rest of Mark’s Gospel.
One theory is that the ancient text was added on to in the early-to- middle medieval
period by a monk who felt that the astounding story of Jesus needed an appropriate
ending with pizzazz.
The most reliable and ancient of transcripts conclude with Mark 16:8, “So (the
women) went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized
them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” So how did Peter
hear that Jesus was alive and that he was forgiven?
I think the oldest conclusion to Mark’s Gospel is most appropriate. It reminds us
of the dynamism of this Good News. It reminds us of the mind-boggling potential
of this Good News. It reminds us of the impact of the Good News in our lives and
the lives of generations who have believed, and loved and served our Risen Lord
Jesus. And, the ancient conclusion to Mark’s Gospel challenges us. It challenges
us to not keep silent.
Thank you, God, that Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome
finally broke their silence. At the risk of rejection and societal condescension,
those three, brave women fought off their fear and told this most important story.
I imagine their love of Jesus, their faith in God working in Jesus, and their support
of one another manifested in bold witness to God’s amazing act of raising Jesus
from death to life.
We will never know what actually happened that day, long ago. However, we do
know the mysterious man’s message was heard, shared and believed.
Because Peter heard this story, he devoted the remainder of his life to serving and
sacrificing and loving Jesus Christ.
Because people heard this story, we have a community and building called St.
Paul’s to gather and celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection.
Because people hear this story, and allow it to impact their lives, others with
meager resources are clothed, given medical attention, fed and empowered to fish
Because people hear this story, they risk their own lives to protect others.
Because we hear this story and believe, we are able to give our children and
neighbors hope and confidence that hatred and violence will not win. God always
has the last word.
Though the news we hear most often does not include stories shining forth God’s
hope, love and empowerment many of us are working to make positive and vital
differences in our world, differences that are love-based rather than fear-based.
And the message of God through Jesus Christ still needs to be told, heard, shared
and believed. That’s our responsibility.
God who raised Jesus from the dead loves, forgives, and longs to welcome
all into God’s loving embrace.
What love God has shown for Peter, for those three, once-frightened women, for
generations past, for us, and for all creation!
Thank you, God, for the love and life we now have through Christ Jesus, our Risen
Lord! Let’s celebrate it, enjoy it, live it, share it.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!