Mark 16:1-6 NLT
1 Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. 3 On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.
5 When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, 6 but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body.
We always have our customs and traditions that we follow blindly at times of great crisis and during bereavement. The Mary's and Salome's were not alone in this. All the hundred or so early disciples were numbed by the Crucifixion and shocked by the reality of Christ's death. Their behavior illustrated how impenetrable their minds and hearts were about Jesus' promise to rise and conquer death. Instead of excitedly watching and preparing for the Resurrected Lord, they prepared to complete his death and burial with their herbs and spices. And the Men--they just let them do it! As the women approached the grave, they chatted about their task but no one anticipated what they saw and heard.
The opened tomb was their first surprise. They were wondering how THEY were going to Get the cave open but it was already opened. This should have been a clue but they missed that one. The angel telling "He has risen!" got their attention, all but Mary M. In other Gospel accounts she, confronted with the Lord Himself, asks where 'they have taken him.' She so believed his death that she was unable to comprehend his glorious life standing in front of her, until He called her by name.
Further accounts of this and other Gospels describe the two disciples from Emaus, on their walk home, engaging conversation with the Risen Christ but not perceiving who he was, until he revealed Himself and was suddenly gone. They ran the 20 miles back to Jerusalem (talk about a holy marathon!) to tell the others, only to be met there by Christ with most of the others.
Faith in the risen Lord requires much that is not normal in humanity. We are so taken with proof and evidence, scientific method etc., that we struggle with this faith. Let me point out what I mean by that. IF you and I really believed Christ has risen, and that He lives within our nature, and is calling us to serve Him by denying ourselves and loving others, then why do we engage in our churches the way we do? Why do more of us in churches not go and make disciples? Why don't more of us not love enemies? Why don't more of us give to the needy? Why do so few of us "bring the whole tithe into the storehouse?" Why are we not willing to live at a less comfortable and less luxurious level so that others can be blessed with our shared resources? Why do so few of us work to preserve and protect the unity of believers within our church and among our congregations and denominations? Why not today?
Your servant in the Lord's Love