He has Been Raised, He is not Here
He is Not Here, He has been Raised!
Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!
The familar refrain is shouted, today is the day of resurrection. A day of new hope, a day of new possibilities. Christ is risen from the grave, death is defeated.
On Easter morning I am drawn to the words of Brian McLaren:
“Then Easter dawns. The scandal of Easter was not simply that a supernatural event occurred. Minds in the ancient world weren’t divided by the rigid-supernatural dualism that forms modern minds. In those days miracles were notable not for defying the laws of nature, but for conveying an unexpected meaning or message through an unusual or unexplainable medium. What was the scandalous meaning conveyed by the resurrection of Jesus? It was not simply that a dead man was raised. It was who the raised man was.
“Someone rejected, mocked, condemned, and executed by both the political and religious establishments was raised. A convicted outlaw, troublemaker and rabble rouser was raised. A condemned blasphemer and lawbreaker was raised. A nonviolent nonconformist who included the outcasts – and therefore became an outcast – was raised…
“Jesus now reigns for us as the non-violent king, the servant-king, the king of love. He has already ascended and has already been enthroned, which is to say that we don’t need to wait for some future day to start living his way. We can, we must, begin the insurrection of resurrection now.” (McLaren, Brian D. Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World. Jericho Books, 2012, p. 175).
Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!
Scripture: Mark 16: 1-8
Special thanks to Trevor Gillman, Brian MacInness, Rob Lenters, Janet Leadbeater, Diana Carr, Gwen Coleman and John MacDougall for their ministry of music during our service today.
Easter is often as much about chocolate and bunnies for children as it is about the empty tomb and Christ’s resurrection. The concept of Jesus rising from the dead can be challenging to explain to kids, we hope this short video is helpful to your family.
He is Not Here! He has been Raised!
Easter greetings and blessings to each of you. We stand in the shadow of the empty tomb, Jesus is not here, he is risen! Do not be alarmed for Jesus who was crucified, has been raised and he is going out ahead of you.
With that news the women fled in terror and amazement and they said nothing to anyone. Except they must have told someone, because we have Mark’s gospel account.
It’s an unusual response and we might wonder why Mark ends his gospel here. Yes, you heard me correctly this is the end of Mark’s gospel or what is known as the shorter ending to Mark. The 8th verse really is the end of Mark as there is now near-universal agreement among biblical scholars and commentators that the last seventeen verses of Mark 16 were not written by Mark but were added on later by someone who clearly believed Mark had not ended his gospel very appropriately. (Center for Excellence in Preaching)
If this is how Mark finished his gospel, we are right to ask why? What is going on here? What is Mark trying to tell us? Remember, Mark begins his gospel with the following in Mark 1:1 “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.” If this is how Mark begins his gospel, why would the last word in his gospel be the word ‘afraid?’ How is this the good news that he pronounces at the beginning? How is this worth celebrating? There does not seem to be much Easter joy in this passage.
To figure this out we need to look toward the character who is newly introduced in this passage, the young man dressed in a white robe who is sitting in the tomb. His words speak to the message we need to hear, we also need to do some reflecting on those words.
- Do not be alarmed
- You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified
- He has been raised; he is not here
- He is going ahead of you to Galilee
- There you will see him, just as he told you
“He’s not here. He’s going ahead of you to Galilee.” Thomas Long … has offered a clever interpretation of those words. Long thinks that Mark was about as highly skilled a writer as you could hope to find in the ancient world. And so for us readers of this gospel–for those of us who cannot and do not literally travel over to Galilee to see if we can find the risen Christ–this reference to Galilee may be a clever framing technique for Mark’s gospel. Jesus is risen, and we are directed to Galilee. But in Mark’s gospel where is Galilee? It’s in Mark 1:14. John the Baptist gets imprisoned and so Jesus launches his own ministry by going to Galilee and there preaching that the kingdom of God was at hand.
So Mark 16:7 may be Mark’s way of saying that as readers we now need to return to the beginning of the gospel and read the whole thing again. Now that we’ve been to the cross, now that we really understand what being the Messiah was all about for Jesus, we need to go back and read the gospel again. We need to hear Jesus’ parables afresh, see the miracles anew. We need to re-consider Jesus’ every word and act in the light of the cross and empty tomb. Because only then will we, by the Spirit, see and understand the nature of God’s kingdom. And the nature of that kingdom is grace, grace, grace. (Scott Hoezee)
We are invited to look back, so that we might also look forward. The ending of the story is found in its beginning. While in Galilee, Jesus proclaimed the good news of God. That the kingdom has come near.
Jesus goes ahead of the disciples, just as he always had.
Jesus goes ahead of us, just as he always does.
Easter is about Jesus in motion. Jesus does not remain still, there is work to do. The work of Easter, the work of resurrection and reconciliation.
It would be easy for us to relate with the women at the tomb that morning, to flee in terror, to allow fear to dominate this moment. We are over a year into a global pandemic, we can see the other side of it, but we know there is still a lot of work to do. We know we will still need to make some sacrifices, there are still many questions left unanswered.
It is ok to be frightened and concerned about the unknown. Fear is a normal response and our lives have been far from normal for the past year. However, we must also cling to the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The good news which says the kingdom has come near.
We are invited to read the gospel stories again in light of the resurrection and the ever flowing river of grace that it represents. I am reminded of words found in 1 Corinthians, “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (I Cor 15:58). The work we do is kingdom work. The good news we believe and proclaim, is kingdom work. When we do this work, when we proclaim Christ risen, the kingdom of God draws near.
When these things happen peoples lives are enriched, relationships are restored, love is realized and grace is abundant.
John Polkinghorne, a theoretical physicist and Anglican priest who recently died writes the following, “if Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob mattered to God once—and they certainly did—they matter to him forever. The same is true of you and me. God does not just cast us off as discarded broken pots, thrown onto the rubbish heap of the universe when we die. Our belief in a destiny beyond our death rests in the loving faithfulness of the eternal God … a God who will not allow anything good to be lost.” (John Polkinghorne, Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity, 2006, 90, 94.)
This is realized in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is the good news of Easter Day. It is the promise contained in the words Christ is Risen! It is why the kingdom of God draws near and why we need not live in fear, but instead we dwell with an abundance of hope.
Thanks be to God for the blessings of Easter. I pray that the love of God be felt with abundance in your lives on this Easter morning. Amen.
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Cobourg is part of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The congregation was established in 1833 and continues to serve the community.
St. Andrew’s supports the gathering of community agencies, providing space for the Affordable Housing Committee. Rev. Ellis’ voice is key in advocating for improvements in awareness, empathy and action on key determinants such as housing, income and food security.
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