Mark 16:1 When the sabbath was over (two days after Jesus was crucified), Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
If you’ve been following along in Mark you know that, in this final section of the story, Jesus’ disciples are not exactly portrayed as a profile in courage. They swore to him they would never leave him or allow anything to happen to him – only to completely abandon him in his hour of need. Here the theme continues.
The women arrived to Jesus’ tomb prepared to anoint his body for burial, but he was not there. A “young man dressed in a white robe” (presumably an angel) told them “He has been raised.” The women were then instructed to tell Peter and the rest of the disciples what they had seen and heard. How did that go? “… they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid”. So – fear continued to be in control.
I get it. Who would believe them? As women they were not considered people of authority in the community so it didn’t make sense that Jesus would appear to them instead of to Peter or one the other leaders. In later verses we find out when the women finally did muster the courage to share the news, their suspicions were confirmed. No one believed them. Jesus would later chastise them all for their unbelief.
Our country is in a mess right now. I don’t think that’s really debatable. Most recently we had the horrible killing of an Africa-American man in police custody followed by many days of peaceful protests – and violent looting and destruction in dozens of cities. It’s not our finest hour as a nation.
Unfortunately the violence and looting has taken our attention away from the most important aspect of these painful events – that ANOTHER black man was killed unnecessarily by a white man in authority. It happens over and over again and it has to stop.
But here’s a painful truth for me today. People like me, for whom the status quo basically works (not perfectly, but mostly), are inclined to just want the unrest to stop. We think “ENOUGH”! But for many people for whom the status quo is NOT working, ending the disruption of protest and civil unrest is NOT okay because when that happens many will be inclined to stop listening. Yes, it’s true it can be hard to listen to someone who is screaming in your face, but more than ever I believe what they are saying matters. Deeply.
If people like me don’t take seriously what desperate people are saying right now, we are a lot like those who ignored what the women at the tomb had to say. We may not like the messengers. Or the method. Or even the message. But here’s what I DO know. As the people of God, the One who continually showed concern and love for people on the margins, how we respond in these days says a lot about who we really are.
Come Lord Jesus. Amen.