Message from Our Pastor
A colleague asked why anyone would ever want to use Mark’s gospel this morning? Mark’s account is too terse for his liking. Perhaps some of you are in the same camp. But let’s remember that Mark is the earliest gospel and the only one likely to have been written by a true contemporary of Jesus.
And Mark has everything that is important – the same elements we find in John’s gospel, just without all of the made for movie drama.
Here is what is the same in the two gospels: The women – a woman in the gospel of John – go to the tomb. When they get to the tomb, it is empty. Upon finding an empty tomb, the women run away greatly disturbed.
Everything else is, as we say in church language, adiaphora, or nonessential.
Oh, I almost forgot the most important essential piece. In both Mark and John, although the women run away, confused and uncertain of what they have seen and heard, they do tell others, who also come to believe.
It is quite clear that Mary shares the truth of the empty tomb with the disciples, although she believes someone has stolen Jesus’ corpse. But Mark ends with frightened women running away, saying nothing.
But here’s the thing, that is not the ending. The women told someone; they had to have told someone or we wouldn’t have the gospel of Mark. Without the women speaking, there is no return to the tomb by the other disciples. You can’t have John’s story line if you don’t have the running away of Mark’s women.
You may not remember that Mark starts his gospel with these words: the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I’m not sure that Mark ever intended there to be an ending to this good news. The runaway women are the first to keep the good news of Jesus Christ, the now-risen Son of God, going.
And it only stops if we, unlike the women in any of the gospels, unlike any of the disciples for that matter, if we arrive at the tomb, see that it is empty, and never run or walk away to share the good news that Jesus is not there. That he is risen, just as he said.
This begs the question: Where have you seen the risen Christ? Whom have you told?
Mark is quite clear that being a disciple is more than a cross around one’s neck or the words he is risen spoken, sung or shouted at a church service. Being a disciple is a way of life. It is a living out of the good news – not the good news of Mark – or Matthew, Luke or John, but the good news of Jesus Christ. Discipleship is living the good news of the risen Son of God, the good news that life and love wins – always.
It takes courage to live Easter’s truth, to lift up the living God when it appears to so many that God is still lying in the tomb. It takes chutzpah to love God and neighbor, to do justice and love mercy, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger and visit the sick, to stand up to the bully, to work to free the oppressed – to live for all the reasons that Jesus died. To continue the gospel of Jesus Christ is more than a little daunting. There will be many not taking this responsibility seriously, and the great news of Easter will end where they sit today.
But if you are willing to continue what Mark started; if you are willing to carry on in the spirit of the women; if you are willing to live the good news of Easter; then there is no better news than this.
He is not here, he is risen. Just as he said.
And this crucified and risen, living Son of God knows no bounds.
Be prepared to be amazed, because if God can raise the dead, there is nothing that God cannot do. Amen.