Friday, April 19, 2019

Who is going to roll the stone away?

Read Mark 16:1-7

Three women got up early on Sunday and headed for the tomb of Jesus.  They knew where to go so perhaps they also knew that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea had made some hasty burial preparations.  The two men surely could not have completed what needed to be done in such a short time.

There was some serious work to be done to do right by their Lord.

I can only say for sure who one of these women were.  Mary Magdalene is mentioned by name.  She followed Jesus after he had cast out 7 demons from her. 

Mary the mother of James leaves us wondering, which James?  If it was James, the Lord’s brother, would she not be identified as the mother of our Lord?  Was it James the son of Zebedee?  Why not list both James and John?  Why not call her the wife of Zebedee?  Perhaps Zebedee has passed by this time.

Matthew’s gospel only calls her the other Mary.  Luke’s gospel agrees with the other synoptics as far as the Mary’s go.

Then there is this woman named Salome.  Salome was the woman that danced for Herod and helped her mother manipulate her new husband into killing John the Baptist.

Salome was probably the name of Zebedee’s wife.  Luke’s gospel differs slightly in that a woman named Joanna is mentioned in lieu of Salome.  Joanna is sometimes mentioned as the wife of Chu za, and part of the household of Herod.

There are other references to her as the granddaughter of Theophilus, to whom Luke’s Gospel and Acts are written. All of these women had surely followed Jesus.  All may have been present in those very intimate hours that took place in the upper room as well.

In any case, three women got up early and headed to the tomb with everything they needed to finish what the men had done in haste.  Of course, they had to talk along the way.  What do you talk about while you are walking to a tomb?

How about, who is going to move that big ole stone that’s sealing the entrance? You think that they might have thought of that before heading out that morning.

OK, somebody’s going to have to wake up 3 or 4 of these guys who have been crying themselves to sleep all night.  What’s the point of heading out there alone?

But they did.  They just took their supplies and headed to the tomb.  They were going to do what they knew to do—give the body of their Lord the preparation needed to spend eternity in that tomb.

But when they arrived, the stone had been rolled away.  There to greet them was a young man sitting in a white robe.

His first words were, “Don’t be alarmed.”

He continued, “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the One whom you have been following, the One who was crucified.  He is not here.  He is risen!  Come see for yourselves.”

OK, it’s empathy time.  Imagine the single most thought on your mind was how are we going to move that big ole rock, and the next thing you know you are witness to the resurrection of the Lord.  This is all before your morning coffee.

And the hits just keep on coming.  The young man in a white robe tells them, “Go tell the disciples and Peter that he is going ahead to Galilee.  That is where you will see him.  OBTW—just like he told you.”

He is risen.  He is not here.  He is not here. He is risen!

You know what the women had to be thinking.  We carried all of this stuff for nothing!

I don’t think that thought crossed their minds.  They were in a state of shock.  The scripture says that they didn’t talk to anyone.  I think that means until they got back to where the disciples were staying.

There is so much packed into these few words.  Among them was a special instruction to Peter that his Lord had not kicked him to the curb after he denied him three times.  The next was that they would meet up in Galilee.  Jesus knew the logistics of gathering there would be a little better than in Jerusalem.

I love this one.  He told you ahead of time. 

The women started their day going to a place of death.  They had work to do there but the tomb marked the end of the road for their Lord. 

They left that place of death with news of life.  The tomb was empty.  Their Lord was risen.  For wherever they had started—fishermen, tax collectors, possessed by demons, members of Herod’s court, and many other places—the journey began now.

The story of all stories began at the tomb.

He is not here.  He is risen.  He is risen.  He is not here.

You are a bunch of crazy people to get up this early on a Sunday morning, unless, of course, you know in your heart that tomb was empty and he is risen.

He was not there.

He is risen.

He is here.

We gather in his name early in the morning and he is here!


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