12th April 2009 Easter Sunday
Mark 16:1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?" 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 6 "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. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, `He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' " 8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
The three women went to the tomb to find Jesus. This was the wrong place to go to! He was not there. He had risen from the dead! One of the places the disciples saw him was in Galilee, like the angel promised. Mary Magdalene also saw him outside the tomb. Twice he appeared to the disciples in a locked room in Jerusalem. He met two people on the road to Emmaus.
Jesus was seen by over 500 witnesses during a six weeks period after his resurrection and before he ascended back to heaven.
Some people can't see Jesus because they are looking for Him in a grave or on a cross. He isn't there!
This passage features movement. The women come to the tomb. They are told Jesus has left the tomb and gone ahead of them to Galilee. Then the women fled from the tomb.
Why does Mark record what happened in this way? Why does he tell us about the angel pointing to Galilee when we know from the other gospels that Jesus was soon seen in a room in Jerusalem and on the road to Emmaus?
We need to go back to Chapter 1 of Mark's gospel. 1:14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"
This is the start of Jesus' earthly ministry. Mark is saying that now we know about the resurrection we can read the gospel afresh in the light of this.
Where can we find the risen Jesus today? He is now seated at the right hand of His Father in heaven. But we don't need to go to heaven to see Jesus.
We can see him through the Bible, or rather he can reveal himself through the Bible. If we read the Bible God's Spirit will help us meet Jesus. It is only through the work of God's Spirit that we can come to see and trust in Jesus.
The good news of the risen Jesus should be spread. The angel told the women to "go, tell his disciples and Peter". The last thing that Peter had done was to deny Jesus. Jesus had risen and Peter was included. The gospel of John features Jesus restoring Peter by the sea of Galilee.
Jesus was seen by lots of people at different times, but they talked about it to inform and encourage one another.
Not everyone who was told about the resurrection believed. Thomas wasn't there when the risen Jesus first appeared to the other disciples. He didn't believe their story and wanted proof. He got it a week later when Jesus appeared to him and spoke with him.
Those of us who have seen the risen Jesus have him living in our hearts by His Spirit. His Spirit will help us to tell others about the risen Jesus. They believe or doubt but we can leave it to Jesus and His Spirit to show himself to them. We are just called to speak and pray.