Go Tell it Out
Easter Sunday - Revd Susan retold the story of the first Easter Sunday morning, when the Good News of Jesus' resurrection was just starting to be heard and shared.
Readings for Easter - Year B
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Go Tell it Out
It was truly more than a mother could bear.
The past few weeks had been an incredible jumble – a wild roller coaster of emotions. They had swung from great elation to unfathomable sorrow.
When she had signed on, just a bit more than thirty years ago, she knew – intellectually – that this day would come, but her heart could barely survive the piercing.
She had accepted the offer and had given her word – and her body – in the most amazing way. The baby she had carried, and had given birth to in that dingy, dirty cowshed in Bethlehem was of her. And was of God.
There had been trying times – it wasn’t easy to rear the Son of God, but she had done it, along with the help of Joseph.
What a challenge the boy had been at times. Taking off from them – for three whole days – when they had traveled from their home in Nazareth, up in Galilee to Jerusalem when he was twelve, to present him at the Temple.
He had decided to explore Jerusalem on his own. After all, he was no longer a child. They thought that he had headed back home with another group.
A day on the road, and he was still missing. In a panic, she and Joseph doubled back, finally finding him in the Temple. And what was he doing? Teaching!
No, this boy who had grown strong in body and spirit, had been a handful.
There was the time, too, when he had been short with her – at that wedding reception in Cana – when she pointed out to him that the wine had run out.
He had snapped back at her that it wasn’t his problem – and that had hurt a little.
But, he was right, and she had told those tending bar to do whatever he told them. So, he took those jugs of water and rendered them wine.
Like a lot of young men, he was becoming his own person. At the end of the day, he had listened to his mother.
To see him tortured and executed – to stand by helpless had just been too much.
When his body had been taken down, it was claimed by another Joseph, this one from Arimathea. He was wealthy and said he had a newly carved tomb they could put his body in. Mary remembered that this man had been one of her son’s followers. She didn’t resist – it was probably for the best—let the others handle it. All of her strength was gone.
It was a relief when Mary of Magdala, and little James’ mother, another Mary, and Salome, the mother of those hard-headed boys James and John – said they would go to the tomb and prepare his body.
Among the three of them, they had about 100 pounds of sweet smelling oils to pack around the body. More than enough for the frail, battered, tortured frame.
The trio lugged the spices from the city to the burial tomb, in a garden just a little outside the massive Jerusalem walls. The Sabbath was over, and they could get there without difficulty.
But, there was difficulty.
There was a huge problem when they got there.
The massive round stone, like an enormous wheel, that had been rolled on the track cut in front of the entrance, had been spun away. The tomb was open.
Carefully, very carefully then, they ducked their heads and headed into the tomb. It was cool and dark inside and it took a few minutes to adjust.
They searched with their eyes and saw no body – no sign of Jesus. The tomb was empty.
Their immediate thought was: How could that be? Who could have done such an awful thing – take away his body?
After what had happened on Friday, anything was possible, but this was too much. Stunned, the two Marys and Salome dropped the heavy baskets filled with the myrrh and aloes and stood there, not knowing what to do next.
Then they saw him.
A young man, in an astonishingly white robe. “It’s all right,” he told them. “You’re looking for Jesus. He was crucified. But that was Friday. He’s gone, not because anyone took his body. No! He is gone because he has been brought back to life.”
The young man continued, “He has been raised. He is not dead anymore.”
The three of them had come to help out, to do what his mother could not bear to do – to wash and prepare her son’s body. But Salome and Mary and Mary had not counted on this, had not expected this.
They wanted to back out, to get away. Who was this man? They didn’t want to stick around to find out.
“Wait,” he said. “Wait. Listen to this news. It’s good news. Jesus is alive, having died and risen. Just like he said.”
They stopped where they were. They had been backing slowly out of the tomb.
“This is really important – and I need you three to carry the message. Go and tell Peter and the others that Jesus will meet them, exactly as he had told them, up in Galilee. Where they all began.”
And Mark tells us: 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.
It was astonishing news – good news, but shocking news. It took Jesus appearing then to Mary Magdalene, and then to the eleven remaining disciples to convince them that he, indeed, had risen.
Death is not the end, only the door to go through. The empty tomb remains just that: empty. The doubts are gone, and the assurance is ours.
We have been given the promise of life everlasting this Easter morning. The darkness of these past few days has been erased.
Son of Mary, Son of God – the Lord is Risen, Christ is Risen, indeed.
To that – Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!