I must confess that I have always been puzzled by the end of the Easter story in Marl's Gospel. (Mark 16:1-8 is the Easter Gospel for Series B, which we are following this year.) Mark's account begins with the women journeying to the tomb "very early on the first day of the week" to complete the burial of Jesus. They were worried about the stone, but when they arrived at the tomb they saw a young man, an angel, who told them "He has risen! He is not here! Go and tell His disciples and Peter."
All this is consistent with what we know from the other Gospels. But then Mark's account takes a strange turn in verse 8: "Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid."
And there the story ends. This is the Gospel of the Lord! No message for the disciples, no appearance of Jesus. The women don't say anything because they are afraid! (Yes, Mark 16:9-20 does tell us of appearances of Jesus, but it is not clear that these verses were part of Mark's original Gospel. Some scholars think Mark's Gospel originally ended at verse 8, others think the original ending may have been lost.)
So if Mark were the only witness of Jesus' resurrection, things would be much different. Without anyone to tell us they saw Jesus alive, we could not be sure He was truly risen. Thankfully, God gave us multiple witnesses who wrote down the events of Jesus' resurrection. We have the complete picture. From Matthew we learn that the women met Jesus on their way back from the tomb. They came to Him, clasped His feet, and worshiped Him. Jesus repeated the command to go and tell His disciples. Luke tells us that they actually did go and tell the eleven disciples-- but the eleven did not believe them. Luke also mentions that Peter got up and ran to the tomb and saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and went away wondering what happened. John relates that Jesus appeared to the disciples that evening, when they were gathered in the upper room behind locked doors. He said, "Peace be with you," and showed them his hands and side. And John notes, "The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord."
We are thankful to have the whole story. We are thankful that many people saw Jesus alive, that some of them wrote down what they saw so that we may know and believe.
But there are some people that may only have one witness to Jesus' resurrection, and that witness may be you or me. We will go to the empty tomb again this Easter morning as we worship. We will hear again the good news: "Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!" But what will we do with that message? Will the "last word" about us be, "And they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid"?
As He did to the women who fled from the tomb afraid, Jesus comes to us with ample reassurance that He is indeed risen from the dead. The eyewitness accounts of men who dies for their faith in the resurrection are strong evidence that Jesus is indeed risen. But faith also sees the risen Jesus. He has "appeared" to us! He speaks to us in His Word. He comes to us and we recognize Him in the breaking of bread at His Holy Supper. Jesus gives us everything we need to believe-- and then to go and tell.
I invite every member of St.John to take the journey with the women to our Savior's empty tomb, whether early on Sunday morning for Sunrise worship or at the regular worship time of 10:00am. Meet your risen Lord in His Word. Eat and drink at His table. Then go and tell the good news: Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Easter joy and peace in our risen Savior,