When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 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 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 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.
This isn’t the Easter story we’re accustomed to hearing. It feels unfinished and we like our Easter story with out any plot holes and neatly tied up with a happy ending. We prefer triumphant music, the singing of choirs and the smell of lilies, not fear and silence.
Bible scholars indicate that the last chapter of the Gospel of Mark ended at verse 8, and that the ending of the original was lost, and the verses that follow were added to the original letter. It’s almost as if scribes couldn’t accept the ending and felt compelled to fill in the women’s silence with their own explanations. In the other three Gospels, the women do go out and tell of Christ’s resurrection.
The women, unlike the men who ran away and hid, were at the crucifixion and witnessed Jesus’ suffering and death. They were at the tomb when Jesus was interred and they were shattered by His death. They returned after the Sabbath to properly anoint His body. Imagine their grief at the loss of all their hope. Imagine their fear on seeing the divine messenger. The angel saying to them, “Don’t be afraid, he has been raised, go and tell his disciples.” But the women, who had faithfully followed Jesus to the grave, were overcome with “terror and dread,” and they fled, just like the men had fled at Jesus’ arrest. Under the law of that time, the women couldn’t even be considered reliable witnesses. So they said nothing.
We’re all speechless in front of the empty tomb. Like the women, we’ve been struck dumb and we can’t believe our eyes. How could the tomb be empty? How could Jesus agree to suffer so brutally and die for our sins? How could God love us so much that God sacrificed God’s only Son for our sake?
Our lives are never to be the same once we have stood in front of the empty tomb and encountered the full force of the mercy and incomprehensible love God has for us. Love that transforms us and makes us new, love that never dies. So let’s not be speechless, let’s pass on the good news! Easter doesn’t happen in silence, but lives in the telling, “Jesus died, so we may live!” Don’t be afraid, don’t be speechless, go and tell.
By Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Are there times when you experienced the love of God through the risen Christ that has left you overwhelmed by God’s love and forgiveness? Have you ever been afraid or speechless when given an opportunity to share the Good News about God’s love with others? By trusting in God and praying for guidance, we can overcome our fear of sharing the good news with others.
Prayer: Loving and merciful God, we are speechless in front of the empty tomb, overwhelmed by your love and salvation. We have no words to describe our joy at this precious gift of eternal life. Lord, send your Holy Spirit so that we won’t be speechless, and give us the words to tell others of your everlasting love. Amen.