Today’s gospel reading focuses on Mark’s account of Jesus’ resurrection (Mark 16:1-8), which for many years has been my favorite telling of this foundational event. Of course, if you take a moment to read Mark’s account, that might seem a little surprising. After all, it differs from the resurrection narratives of the other gospel writers in at least two key ways:
- First, it contains no resurrection appearances; just the assurance — offered by a young man in a white robe — that “He has risen! He is not here.” (Mark 16:6)
- Second, it ends not with inspirational commissionings and demonstrations of resurrection reality, but with the women who first heard the good news fleeing from the tomb, “trembling and bewildered,” and saying “nothing to anyone, because they were afraid,” (Mark 16:8) which seems like a realistic human response to such an amazing announcement.
Of course, these women apparently overcame their fear and bewilderment and did share the news with others — a fact that is borne out by the our ability to read about their experience two thousand years later. But what we must not miss, I think, is the second half of the pronouncement that was given to them by that young man in the white robe: “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” (Mark 16:7)
Just think. Jesus is out there. We might be caught in between the joy of gospel hope and the fear of wondering what it all means. But what transforms us and transforms the world in which we live is that Jesus is going ahead of us. He’s waiting to be encountered as we seek his presence and receive his hope and serve in his name. And when we meet him (which we will), we will receive his commission — along with demonstrations of his living presence — and we’ll become a part of this open-ended story; in which the good news is shared, and creation waits to see what we will do with it.
Jesus is risen. And he’s going ahead of you today. Where will you see him? And how will you join his work, as your “trembling and bewilderment” are swallowed up by the joy of resurrection life?