Mark 16:1-8 NRSV
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. “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.
When the Sabbath was over, a group of women who dearly loved Jesus wished to anoint his body with spices as was the custom. They started out, and as they walked, they began to wonder how in the world they would be able to move the great stone that had been placed in front of the tomb to access the body of their beloved Jesus. They probably experienced anxiety, concern, possibly even fear if they knew Roman soldiers had been set to guard the tomb; emotions that are familiar to us all. I am sure they were emotionally drained after watching Jesus suffer and die in such a horrific manner on the cross just days before, so these added anxieties probably made them even more distressed.
Can you imagine the shock and astonishment they experienced when they saw the stone already rolled away and an empty tomb? Even more alarming was the fact that a young man dressed in a white robe was sitting there and spoke to them. He told them not to be alarmed but that Jesus had risen from the grave and was not there. He was going ahead of them to Galilee and would see them there. They were to report all of this to his disciples and Peter.
How many of us get so caught up in concerns about how we will roll the stone away in our own lives when problems arise, focusing on the pain, anxiety and worry that we forget we have a risen Lord, one who has already gone before us. Just as Jesus told his followers that he would rise again and prepare a place for them, He has told us to be anxious for nothing and that He is with us always. Today we have the gift of the Bible, with knowledge of His appearances after death and the power of the Holy Spirit that was unleashed so His word would be spread throughout the world. These women had only their personal experiences with Jesus, listening to him teach and witnessing his miracles. I am sure it was very difficult for them to conceive that a grave would not be able to contain Him. No wonder they fled in terror.
As I am writing this, it is the 16th anniversary of my youngest son’s death. A painful time, and yet, I too, am reminded that our Lord Jesus Christ conquered death and the grave does not contain my son any more than it contained the body of Jesus on the day these women found an empty tomb.
The angel robed in white frightened the women but this only reminds us that we have a living Lord and fear does not have a place in our lives. Jesus Christ is just as present and active in our lives today as then; a Savior who knows and loves each of us personally and desires us to love Him and reach out to Him, trusting Him in all things. And yes we are sent out to spread His message of salvation and redemption, without fear.
Do you remember that you have a Risen Lord?