Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
“So they went out and fled from the tomb
for terror and amazement had seized them;
and they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid.”
I love how Mark ends his Gospel,
it is so honest,
I mean imagine if you were at the tomb on that morning,
expecting to care for the body of your teacher and friend
who you had seen crucified the other night,
and then placed in the tomb
by other followers with a big stone covering the opening
there would be no reason to think
that Jesus would be any place other than where you left him.
when the women arrive,
the tomb is open,
the stone is rolled away
the first sign something is up
and when they go into the tomb
they find not Jesus
but a young man dressed in white
the traditional color of garments of messengers of God,
a startling occurrence on several levels
and even crazier than not finding Jesus’ body
is the message from the young man,
that Jesus has been raised from the dead,
that he’s alive and moving about the world
and going ahead to Galilee
and that they and the disciples should go meet him there.
“So they went out and fled from the tomb for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid.”
God has just changed the rules
on what is supposed to be permanent.
No wonder they are afraid,
it’s a lot to take in,
they probably wondered if someone was playing a joke on them,
and who would believe them if they told anyone anyway,
so they didn’t say anything.
But here we are.
Word obviously got out,
that seems very human to me too,
whatever it is, everyone seems to find out in the end.
Even the first hearers of Mark’s story
knew what happened,
and that’s another reason why I love this end
because it’s not an ending,
it’s a beginning,
it’s the beginning of life
where death no longer has the last say
and it’s an invitation to all of us
to experience that life,
and if we want more than an empty tomb,
if we want to see the risen Christ
we must go to Galilee where he has promised to meet us.
Jesus brings his disciples back to Galilee
because that is where Jesus did his ministry,
a ministry that lived out resurrection in in daily life,
commentator Philip Ruge-Jones remarks that
“Sown throughout Mark’s gospel
are stories that explain
what baptismal resurrection looks like in daily life.”
Jesus’ ministry is all about raising people up,
and this started long before the empty tomb.
So what does resurrection look like in daily life?
It looks like Jesus
lifting up Simon’s mother in law
from the bed where she lay with a fever,
healing her and restoring her ability to serve (1:29)
returning her to her place of honor.
It looks like Jesus calling out to Levi son of Alphaeus
who was sitting in a tax booth
certainly collecting more than prescribed for his own benefit,
and Levi getting up and following him.
And later Jesus eating dinner with the tax collectors and sinners
because they needed him more than the righteous people
that the scribes would rather have Jesus associate with (2:13)
Resurrection in daily life
looks like God bringing growth to seeds scattered on the ground
while people go on with their daily lives
oblivious to the seeds
until it is time to collect the grain from the plants that have grown up (4:26).
And these are only a few of the examples,
small daily occurrences,
moments of new life
in the midst of a world that deals mainly in death,
moments that affirm
that death does not have the last say.
The resurrected Jesus
has promised to meet us in Galilee,
and while Galilee is a place you can still visit,
it is not necessary to buy a plane ticket to see Jesus
because the Galilee where we can meet Jesus
is right next door to us.
The Galilee that Jesus goes to ahead of us today
is anywhere there are people who are hungry, cold,
abused, without power,
Galilee is on the margins
where ‘nice’ people don’t go,
Galilee is where people are dying,
Galilee is where Jesus is needed the most,
where resurrection is needed the most.
If we go there,
we will see Jesus,
who knows what it means to suffer and die,
who answers death with resurrection.
If we go to Galilee we will see the life
that comes after the death of a relationship,
when after what seems like a long time love is found.
If we go to Galilee
we will see nurses and CNAs and other caregivers
taking care of their elderly charges
even though they haven’t been paid in three weeks
and other communities giving funds
to make sure there is food and medicine for the most vulnerable.
If we go to Galilee,
we will see things that we thought were permanent,
sickness, addiction, loneliness,
we will see all these things redeemed
and brought to new life
in ways that right now we cannot even imagine
all because even though Jesus died on Friday,
he rose on Sunday,
overcoming the ultimate power of death.
Today Christ is risen!
And it’s only the beginning,
The story continues tomorrow,
and the next day
and the next...Amen
Many thanks to Philip Ruge-Jones’ commentary on workingpreacher.org for shaping this sermon
Pastor Emily Johnson preaches weekly at Christ Lutheran. These are manuscripts of her sermons given at Christ Lutheran. Feel free to engage with them in the comments section of the blog.