Will you?

Text: Mark 16:1-8

The story of Easter is not just the story of something that happened a long time ago in a far away land.

It is the story that is happening again over and over for all time.

It is the story that has no end.

On Easter morning, the women came to the tomb and they found it empty except for an angelic messenger who told them that Jesus had been raised from the dead and had gone on ahead of them and that they would find him there.

And the women, filled with terror and amazement at the whole idea, ran away and said nothing. 

And so ends the book we call the Gospel of Mark, at least in its original form. This is the version of the Easter story you don’t always hear.

The other Gospels relate more scenes, but this one, which is actually my favorite, ends here, and most people don’t know that - but now you do. And there’s a reason for that.

People had a hard time being faithful followers of Jesus. Jesus was hard to follow. When Mark wrote this book, this was his theme: People did not know who Jesus was. Everyone misunderstood him. His family thought he had lost his mind. Judas betrayed him. Peter denied him. All the male disciples deserted him before he was crucified. Even the women who had been faithful the longest of all, ran away in fear as we see today.

And this is the original closing scene of the book that Mark wrote, which literally ends mid-sentence.

But we know that the story is not over.

So so we are left with this question, is there anyone else who could be a faithful disciple and carry on Jesus’s mission? Is there anyone else who has witnessed this story who can relay his message of love and reconciliation? Is there anyone else who can carry it on?

Ah, but there is! Do you know who?

It’s you. It’s me. It’s us.

As readers and hearers of the Gospel, we have been in the story the whole time. We have been witnesses to it all. We were there at Christmas when Jesus was born. We were there and heard God proclaim Jesus to be his beloved Son at his baptism. We were with him in the wilderness when there were no others save angels and wild beasts and that devil Satan. We were with him on the road and saw him healing the sick and making the lame walk again and giving sight to the blind and even raising the dead. We heard his teaching and we saw him transfigured. We were with him in the temple and in the desert and on the water and on the mountain where he fed 5000 people and in the Garden when he cried out in his agony while the others fell asleep. We were with him at his trial and we stood up together when he reached Golgotha on Good Friday and we are here today when the stone has been rolled away and the angel has given the message. He has been raised. He has gone on before. Go out and follow him. And do not be afraid.

All the time you were reading or hearing this story maybe you thought that it was a story about somebody else.

But the story is not just about Jesus and not just about God and not just about the women or the angel and his message. It is about all of those but also, it is about us, too. It’s about you as a witness to the love and power of God that has been shown to us through the story of Jesus. Mark, the writer of the first of all the four Gospels, meant this non-ending of his Gospel to be a challenge to you to know what you need to do now.

Today on Easter we are all standing here at the empty tomb and have heard the angel. We now know that death has not had the last word. God has raised Jesus from the dead and God will raise us, too, to be with God forever. Now we know that this is what love can and will do. 

You know the story. You have been a witness. And now you see that it is not finished. Will you be a faithful disciple? Will you carry the message forward? Will you watch for where Jesus has gone out ahead of you and follow him there? Will you go out into the world for the sake of Jesus of Nazareth, the Risen Christ, to serve the least and the lost and the scared and the poor and the sick and imprisoned and those who have lost all hope?

Will you? 

Please say yes.