As we journey through the Witness of Mark, we want to encourage you to first begin with the Daily Reading that will take you through the entire book of Mark. Then, read the First 15 Scripture and Reflection to dive a little deeper into verses from the Daily Reading.
Today's daily reading is: Mark 16:1-8
“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.
If Christ has been raised, then the whole world is different. He has, and it is.
After Jesus was placed in the tomb three women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, make their way there before sunrise on Sunday, the first day of the week. They go with burial spices to anoint the body. The worst has happened. Jesus, whom they thought was the Messiah of Israel, is dead. They are certain he is gone. They ask one another, “Who will roll away the stone?”
But when they come upon the tomb they find a surprise. The stone has been rolled away. They go inside, and are surprised to find a young man in a white robe sitting inside the tomb. They are startled. But they are told, “Don’t be alarmed. I know you’re looking for Jesus, from Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See! Mary Magdalene and Mary, you were here when Joseph laid him here; he is here no longer.”
The young man gives one more instruction, “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.’”
Understandably, the women leave the tomb trembling, bewildered, and afraid. They could not believe what they have seen and heard, for nothing like it has ever happened before, and thus far in history, nothing like it has happened since. That’s a natural response. That’s often how we feel when we believe the worst thing has happened.
Yet, let us remember that the death of Jesus is good news for us.
Eugene Peterson writes:
“There is a lot of suffering in the world, a lot of evil. If we are going to have a religion that is worth anything to us, if we are going to believe in a God who makes any difference in our lives, we have to know the very worst that happens. This is the worst. And this worst is not the kind of embarrassed exception to everything else. It is the climax. This is that toward which everything has moved. The cross of Jesus is not an unfortunate episode that we should try to sweep under the rug, the skeleton in the closet of the gospel. This is the place of arrival, the goal. And none of us fails to be moved by it. If Jesus could enter this world and be unflinchingly courageous in this extreme adversity, be such a magnificent ‘failure,’ then I can also live with meaning and love in whatever comes my way” (Eugene Peterson, As Kingfishers Catch Fire, 264).
The earliest ending of Mark’s gospel stops the story here. The tomb is empty. I think there is a good reason for that: the earliest hearers would’ve eagerly asked, “What happens next?” There is more to tell.
What did happen next?
“[T]his is not the end,” Peterson continues, “There is resurrection. The Jesus who was killed by the people who didn’t want God in their lives is raised by God to be their God, whether they want him or not. Christ is risen” (Peterson, As Kingfishers Catch Fire, 263).
The resurrection is good news, the best news. God has vindicated Jesus, sin and death have been overcome. There is hope for today and for the future. There is grace, forgiveness, and new life with God. Eternal life has been made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus, a life with God that begins now and extends forever. And there is purpose and meaning, good work to do in Christ’s name as agents and ambassadors of God’s kingdom. Sin and death do not have the final word. Life does. God does.
The young man told Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome, “He has risen! He is not here...just as he told you.” Yes, Christ is risen. The Scriptures have been fulfilled. God’s redemptive work is complete. Don’t be alarmed. Do not be bewildered or afraid. The very worst happened, yet God raised Jesus up. Demonstrate that the world is different, all because of Jesus. Announce the good news. Go!
Holy Spirit, enliven my heart and enable me to rejoice in the reality that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Praise be to God! Death does not have the final word--you do. Raise me up with Christ, that I might live fully in him. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.