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.
Last week Saturday I did an object lesson with the children who came for our Easter egg hunt. It involved Resurrection Eggs. Each of the twelve eggs had a small object in it which could be used to tell a part of the Easter story from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. As we moved forward, the children were curious as to what would be in the next egg. But when we got to the last egg, it was empty. They were surprised. And somewhat disappointed.
In many ways we are like the children. We have certain expectations. We get into a pattern of doing things and when we do them again we expect the same results. Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results. We learn to expect the future based on the past. Solomon refers to this in Ecclesiastes when he writes that there is nothing new under the sun.
4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. 7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. 8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.
It can be something very simple. You flick a light switch and you expect a light to come on. You turn the key in the car’s ignition and you expect the engine to start. You step on the bathroom scale and you expect a certain number to show up. Based on the past, I expect a certain number of people to be in worship so I make about that many bulletins. You expect a sermon to be about 20-25 minutes long. Think for a moment of other expectations that you have. PAUSE
What expectations do you notice in Mark’s account of the resurrection?
The women who went to Jesus’ tomb expected to anoint his body with spices.
They expected that Jesus’ body would be decaying — hence the reason for the spices.
They expected it might be difficult to get into the tomb because of the heavy stone rolled in front of it.
Based on the promises of Jesus, what should they have expected? He had said that he would rise on the third day and it was the third day. Therefore, they should have expected to encounter the risen Savior. But they did not expect this. Why not?
Because nothing new happens under the sun. They knew the protocols when someone died. We do today too even though our burial customs are somewhat different. On Thursday evening, my father’s aged sister, Aunt Flora, died old and full of years. Her death was not really unexpected. What happens next? This week there will be a visitation followed by a funeral service and a burial. I expect to see my aunt once last time in her coffin. Having been involved in scores of funerals, I pretty much know what to expect even though I am not involved in planning this one. You have had the same experience. We expect that on the third, fourth, or fifth day, the person who has died will be buried. We do NOT expect to be able to interact with them again because they are dead.
So we can’t really blame the women too much for operating according to the expected.
But they did not experience the expected.
The stone had been rolled away.
Jesus was not there.
Someone was there. A young man dressed in white sitting on the right side. (Luke says there were two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning who stood beside them.
What did the angels say? Matthew, Mark, and Luke record what they said with a slight difference or two. Mark’s angel acknowledges simply what they were doing.
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.’ ”
Matthew’s angel concedes that the knows that they were looking for Jesus — this was to be expected.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
Luke’s angels ask them why?
5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”
Why were they looking for Jesus in the tomb? Because it was EXPECTED! Even though Jesus had told them otherwise, his promise was too fantastic to believe without further proof. They did not come believing he had risen. They came because they did not believe his promises but were following what they were used to.
Specific sin. Do we fall into the same trap? Do we operate as Christians from a simply worldly view and refuse to believe the promises of God? We believe we have eternal life but do we live our lives now in commitment to Jesus or is just convenient for us? I would maintain that if the only time we can publicly show our devotion to him is at token times of the year, we need a wake up call! Jesus calls for our total commitment and promises blessings to those who are committed and warns against those who refuse to believe and act on his promises.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
That first Easter morning the women received the surprise of their lives. Some surprises and more shock than surprise. Unexpected things can put our lives into turmoil and it make take a long time for us to overcome the effects of that event. But this surprise was not bad in any way. It was truly Good News. Hard to grasp to be sure. What was their initial reaction?
8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
8 Then they remembered his words. 9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
The Easter story has since been told and retold for almost 2000 years. We expect what the outcome of Good Friday is going to be. We expect that we who have somberly reflected on the impact of Jesus’ death on Friday return on Easter morning we will hear Good News! Jesus is not dead. He is risen!