Believe and Obey

A Radical Christian Perspective on the World's News & Current Events

Initially Afraid

AdobeStock 418339568

The Day the World Changed

This is Easter Sunday.  This is the day in the Christian calendar.  We rely on Scripture to help us learn about this day because of our faith in the resurrection.  It is this resurrection that makes all of Scripture make sense.  The text for this year’s Easter celebration is Mark 16:1-8.  As is typical of many Markan passages, this one is brief.  One of the reasons that Mark is my favorite of the 4 Gospel texts is the direct and simple language that the author uses to spread the Good News.  This text is no exception.  However, do not confuse simplicity of language with simplicity of thought.  There is, as per usual, a lot going on here.

For Mark, and for us, Easter Sunday is the day everything changed.  Jesus has conquered death and in so doing placed within us the faith that puts us right with God.  So, besides proclaiming Jesus Christ as Risen, what is this text telling us?  Quite a bit actually.

Who Are Called to Proclaim?

The first thing that is striking is that those who are first on the scene are the women, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, as well as Salome.  This may indicate some special level of faithfulness.  It may indicate that in that culture this was a task that women performed.  It may be that the male disciples were hiding in fear (not unjustified). 

Whatever the reason, it is the women who first discover that Jesus has risen.  They come upon a young man, dressed in a white robe.  He tells them that Jesus has been raised.  This young man is presumably an angel or some other being sent by God to direct the followers of Jesus.  This being, who clearly possess some kind of higher authority, if only because he knows that Jesus has risen, then calls the women to go and tell the other disciples this news.  That it is women given this task is an extraordinary thing, given the world they inhabited.  Then again, Jesus during His earthly ministry so often called to those on the margins to proclaim the Kingdom of God.  This reality stands in stark contrast to the misogyny that sadly has marked much of subsequent church history.  There is clear biblical authority that women can and should preach the Gospel. 

An Initially Fearful Response

That the women were called to proclaim the Gospel does not mean that they are exempt from human frailties.  They run from the tomb and are so terrified that they initially do not say anything to anyone.  We have all been there.  There is no reason to think they would be immune to this kind of fear.  The text ends on this note.  If we ended here, we might think them ineffective preachers.

The story, of course does not end there.  In verses 9-11 of the same chapter in Mark we see that Mary Magdalene does go out and tell the good news to the other disciples.  No word on whether the two other women did the same.  This too may be indicative of a human reality.  More are called than actually answer.  Nonetheless the lesson is clear.  Yes, we may be afraid to proclaim for any number of reasons.  Yet, like Mary Magdalene we can overcome that fear and go forth with this awesome news.  Scripture has many stories of those at first reluctant to go and proclaim.  From Moses to Jonah to several characters in the New Testament.  The important lesson for us is that our fear is not new, and it can be overcome.

One More Thing

Not to sound like Lieutenant Colombo, but there is one more thing I would like to bring up.  The story starts with the stone in front of the tomb already moved.  This solves a logistical problem for the women as they were wondering who they would get to do this, so that they might anoint the body.  However, the main point to the stone being rolled away is that this is for our benefit.  It was not done so that Jesus could walk out.  If He can raise Himself from the dead, a stone is of little bother. 

The stone has been rolled away not so Jesus can walk out, but so that we can look in.  This is for us to see and realize that He did it, He really did it.  God provides all the means necessary for us to believe in His power, His love and His redeeming Grace.  He even makes it easy for us to peer in to look at the empty tomb.

That ease should give us comfort that we possess all we need to go forth and proclaim the Good News in thought, word, and deed.  This should help us overcome whatever initial fear we may have regarding our call to proclaim.  That is we can grasp our belief, and then our obedience. 

Praise Be to God

Related Posts

Scroll to Top