The Resurrection of our Lord
April 3-4, 2021
“Go!” Mark 16:1-8
Rev. John R. Larson
Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
We can get stuck. Things don’t always go the way that we expect them to go. Pastor Don Ginkel, a member of this congregation and one who has preached or taught for me many times, told me of an account he had 6 years ago with two of his granddaughters, Emma and Finley. Then Don was in his early 80’s, working full time for his publishing company and could tackle anything, anywhere. That is, except two granddaughters, Emma who then was 6 years old and Finley, just 10 months.
When Don got the invite to babysit, his gracious wife Nadine, said that she would come along. But Mr. Superman rejected the offer. It was only going to be for two hours. So he refused help. “No way. It’s a piece of cake!!” But no one told him that 10-month old Finley was teething. And she could cry for thirty minutes at a time without taking a breath. Her nose was running and between the cries and tears and running nose this 80 year- old man had met his match. But 6 year-old Emma consoled him, “Grandpa, don’t worry”, referring to the constantly running nose. “It won’t drip on the carpet; it’ll just run in her mouth.” Don said that that made him feel much better. Shortly after that fiasco Don and Nadine went on a cruise trying to recover from that episode!!
On that first Easter there were three women who were very much stuck. This is how Mark 16, one of the resurrection accounts begins. “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint the body of Jesus.” (Mark 16:1) Do you see that those words tell us that they were really stuck. Their feet were in cement. They had no faith in Jesus and they didn’t believe His word. I know that this was a very kind gesture on their part to go out and buy some spices with their own money and then to get up on Sunday morning, very early, and go to the grave and put them on the decomposing body of Jesus. How nice!!
But they didn’t have faith in Jesus. They didn’t believe His word. In Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:34 and 14:28 He said that He would be rejected, mistreated, suffer, die and on the third day He would rise. He didn’t speak it in private once or twice but openly at least 4 times. But they didn’t go there to see Him in His resurrection, but to anoint the dead, crucified body of Jesus. They were stuck.
And more than that, they were unprepared!! Jesus had been placed in a tomb, or a cave and to secure the body a large stone had been placed in front on the entrance. It wasn’t until after they bought the spices and on their way to the tomb that they asked the question, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb?” (Mark 16:3) They should have thought about that before they stepped outside the door. They were stuck and unprepared on that Easter morning.
The day didn’t start out well. I asked one of our folks how things were going and instead of the customary, “Just fine”, she said, “If we could have skipped February and March that would have helped!” Sometimes we get stuck with problems, but sometimes it gets bigger – hopelessness, gloom, despair, joylessness and a sense of defeat.
I read that the musical “The 12” played at the Bonfils Theatre Complex downtown a number of years ago. It is the account of the Apostle’s between Good Friday and Easter. Jesus is dead and the Apostle’s are asking the question, “Did I waste my time? Did I waste my life?” The writer Robert Schenkkan says, “How do any of us move forward when whatever it is we put our hopes in – whether it’s a cause or a career or a relationship or an idea – when that crashes as invariably it does for all of us – what do we do?”
How do we move forward? Or do we just get stuck? You might have noticed that I have titled this sermon, “Go!” It is the third of the sermons, a trilogy of sorts, of “Ready, Set, Go!” On Holy (Maundy) Thursday the sermon was “Ready!” On Good Friday it was “Set!” Today – “Go!” That is what Easter does. You cannot get stuck if you know the truth of Easter. Easter, the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, will take you to the greatest place!! It will get us moving once again – even when our lives got stuck.
When the three women got to the tomb they didn’t have to worry about who was going to roll the stone away from the tomb. “But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. ‘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.’” (Mark 16:4-6)
The Gospel account of the resurrection of Jesus is unique in our reading. In these 8 verses Jesus never shows up. There are no appearances, in Mark’s Gospel, of the resurrected Christ. The other Gospels have Him appearing to Peter, Mary Magdalene, Thomas and many others. He is on the road to Emmaus and by the Sea of Galilee. In Luke He speaks the words, “Look at My hands and feet. It is I myself. Touch Me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” (Luke 24:39) In Mark we don’t run into the words about not clinging to Him, or the call to put fingers in the wounds in His hands or a hand into the gash in His side.
You know where we are told to go in Mark’s Gospel? We are told to go to the word. We are to listen to the early witnesses. We are to be confident in the word that Christ speaks, knowing that He will speak the truth. When the angel (that is who this young man dressed in a white robe is) gives them direction as to what to do next, he says, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.” (Mark 16:7b) As He told you the truth before, trust His word once again.
I pray that you go to the resurrected Christ with the deepest needs of your soul. If you carry a deep guilt of sin there is only once place to go!! Jesus!! If you don’t know where you will spend your eternal life I can only advise you to seek the truth of the resurrected Christ. If you are stuck in a life that brings you grief about your choices, go to Christ who will give you His own Spirit to guide you in new ways. The Scriptures promise, “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4)
Easter is personal. Each of us has to come face to face with this Jesus. The Scriptures say, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10) Because Jesus Christ died for sins and rose again in glory we get personal in our anger over death’s threat. With a mocking voice, all those who are in Christ say, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 15:55-57)
Go to Him. Go to His word. Trust Him. Become a Christian. Be a Christian. And the truth of Jesus and His resurrection is also for others. In our reading the angel spoke to the women with a directive, “But go, tell His disciples and Peter.” (Mark 16:7a) They must have gone. The disciples heard and believed. Peter heard and believed. Later they would all come face to face with the resurrected Jesus. And they told us. They told us, in written word what they so wonderfully experienced. Everyone that was stuck in grief and depression and hopelessness were visited by a living Christ and they were made bold and alive.
Many years ago a young lady came to my church and began to take instruction to become baptized into the Christian Faith. She was not raised in the church, really had never attended church. But now she was coming. She had some great questions about the faith – some that we just take for granted (which we should never do!!) She said, “I know that Christmas has a religious meaning, but what about Easter?” Boy, did she open a door!!
Did you hear about the truck driver, traveling down I-80 near Salt Lake City, when a bag tumbled out of the truck ahead of him? Dan Kennedy, the truck driver, pulled over and picked up the bag, 75 pounds in weight, about 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide. When he opened it he couldn’t believe what he saw. Money!! Lots of it!! Stacks of $50 and $100 bills. The truck ahead of him, a Brink’s armored truck, lost one of the items they were carrying. Dan’s an honest guy, first tried to catch up with the truck and when he couldn’t catch them, contacted the police and gave them the bag. The thought of his discovery stayed with him all day. Dan said, “I was just jazzed all day long!!”
If you want to get “jazzed” about something this day of Easter should get you jazzed – for more than a day. During these days it has been, “Ready, Set, Go!!” All because of the resurrection of Jesus we wonderfully go to His word and know His love and look forward to our eternity in heaven and our most blessed life on earth. Amen!!
(This Easter Message was first preached at Ascension on April 5, 2015, with the series, “Ready? Set? Go!!” I hope that it is of benefit to you the second time.)