The Resurrection of our Lord, 2020

“And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?’” (Mark 16:2-3).

They had no one to roll away the stone.

Man was in their way, for it was Joseph of Arimathea who rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.

But worse than that, “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint [the dead body of Jesus]” (Mark 16:1).

They expected a dead body.

Death was in their way. Not the death of a body—Jesus lives! But the death of faith, the death of hearing the Word of God but not holding it fast in an honest and good heart, bearing fruit with patience.

In all that they do, they’re trying to be loving and faithful. But since they are not faithful, they are not loving.

It’s not just Man or Death that’s in their way but the God who dies and lives. And they turn from what He has told them.

This isn’t an allegory. There’s no very large stone that you just can’t move that God will just remove if you just pray hard enough.

Rather, there is the Word of the Eternal God.

Law and Gospel. Dirge and lute.

God speaks, and it is so.

The most important words that St. Mark records for us in today’s Gospel lesson might surprise you.

It’s not: “Do not be alarmed” (Mark 16:6).

It’s not: “He has risen; he is not here” (Mark 16:6).

It’s not: “He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him” (Mark 16:7). It’s none of those.

The most important words St. Mark records for us are these: “Just as he told you” (Mark 16:7).

God speaks, and it is so.

Thus says the Lord, and it’s true.

That’s why and how everything else comforts us.

Jesus said it. It’s true. Therefore…

Just as He told you, do not be alarmed.

It was necessary that the Son of Man suffer many things, be rejected by the elders and chief priests, and be killed—and on the third day rise (cf. Mark 8:31).

He was crucified, but, just as He told you, He has risen; He is not here.

He is going before you, and—just as He told you—you will see Him.

God speaks, and it is so.

Thus says the Lord, and it’s true.

“They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:8).

They have heard—but they do not yet believe.

I’m not being harsh. Jesus rebukes the disciples for the same thing. St. Mark records, Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene. She told the disciples, but they wouldn’t believe it. Jesus, then, appeared to two of them. They went and told the others, but they didn’t believe it. Then, Jesus appeared to the eleven, ”and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen” (cf. Mark 16:9-14).

They heard, but they did not believe.

They saw and believed.

But blessed are you who have not seen. Blessed are you who hear the Word of God and hear it gladly.

Blessed are you who hold it sacred and learn it.

God speaks and it’s so. Thus says the Lord and it’s true.

Just as He told you. Do not be alarmed.

He is going before you, and there, someday, you’ll see him.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

The Resurrection of our Lord, 2020
Mark 16:1-8
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

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