A few summer’s ago, we were eating yogurt at a local shop and my youngest son’s kindergarten teacher comes strolling in the door. We all had to do a double-take. This sweet teacher of kindergarteners was wearing leather chaps and carrying a motorcycle helmet. She and her husband were out enjoying a ride in the beautiful weather. For my son, it was just too much to absorb. He couldn’t believe it. It was a bizarre thing to see his teacher out of the context of her classroom. Throw in the motorcycle wearing gear and it was a lot for him to take in on that day. She was out of his element.
Mary and Mary and Salome go to the tomb to anoint the body of a dead Jesus. What they got was a Jesus out of context. He was out of place. He supposed to be dead. Imagine showing up at a funeral and the director of the funeral home meets you outside and says, “You are not going to believe this but he isn’t dead. He got up this morning and wanted me to tell you to meet him down the street.” Talk about showing up expecting one thing and getting something else. How do you react to such news? How do you respond? We can’t be too hard on the ladies for being afraid. After all, they went expecting a dead Jesus. A Jesus sealed behind a rock. They were going to anoint his dead, decaying body with oil and spices. Their biggest concern was who was going to roll back the stone. Who was going to get that big rock out of their way so they could get into the tomb? Instead the stone has been rolled away. Jesus is risen. Jesus is out of context.
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“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. 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.’”
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. (Mark 16:1-8)
A mysterious young man greets the women at the tomb. They are told to go tell Jesus’ other followers that Jesus is not dead. He is not in the tomb. He is risen. The women leave. If you are on a death journey and what you find is life, you might be a little out of sorts as well. You show up at the funeral home hoping that the flower shop got the flowers correct and delivered on time and the funeral director greets you saying, “You can take your flowers and go home because he isn’t here. He has already made his way back home.” I got to admit I’d be a little afraid as well.
The context has changed. Death no longer has the last word. The enemy has been destroyed. God has come to redeem. God is going to take what looks like bad endings and turn them into new beginnings. God is going to take what looks like failures and giving them back as opportunities. When Jesus is risen the context changes. The end becomes the beginning. Life, not death, has the final word.
Happy Easter. He is Risen!