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  • Rev. Annie McMillan

“The Rest of the Story”

It’s early in the morning. The sun has only just risen and the three women have

gone to the tomb to do their part in giving Jesus a proper burial. There hadn’t been

time before to anoint the body with herbs and oils, so they came to pay their respects

and do their part. Perhaps a gardener was usually there, or someone was typically

around that they could ask to help move the stone. Maybe they would have left a

memorial if there hadn’t been another option. They were deep in thought- worrying

about the giant stone that might be too solidly in place for them to get in. They were

deep in grief, having lost the man who was their teacher… their hope.

The stone rolled away was the first sign that God had provided a way, but it seems

they didn’t fully understand it. They seem to still expect the body there; nothing has

changed in their minds. So the presence of the young man startles them.

“Go, tell his disciples, especially Peter…” That’s what the young man tells them,

after briefly explaining what’s happening. Go tell those same disciples who never

fully understood what Jesus was saying. The disciples who slept while Jesus prayed in

the garden of Gethsemane. The disciples who fled when Jesus was arrested. Go tell

especially Peter, who boldly proclaimed that he would die with Jesus before he would

deny him. Peter, who denied Jesus three times before the sun had fully risen. The last

we heard about Peter, he was sobbing because he realized what he had done.

Mark never shows us the resurrected Christ. Mark doesn’t show us the disciples.

And here, the women we do see are too scared to say anything. But that doesn’t

change the message: Jesus was raised from the dead, and his message, albeit through a

messenger, is to tell those who abandoned him that they will see him in Galilee.

Christ was raised from the dead and continued the work of reconciliation he’d been

doing since the beginning. It’s the message of reconciliation that we wait for: the

message that no matter how many times we turn away, no matter how many times we

deny or even betray him, Christ remains faithful to his mission to reconcile us back to

God.

This work of reconciliation is so important that Jesus doesn’t even have the time to

wait at the tomb. He told them that he’d be raised up and go before them to Galilee.

So Jesus is on the move before sunrise, heading in that direction. On the way to

meet the disciples who have probably forgotten where they are supposed to go but

maybe, just maybe, have headed there anyway, not entirely sure why they need to

return to Galilee. In need of that reconciliation and forgiveness for always coming up

short; for never fully getting it no matter how many times Jesus told them; for

abandoning, for denying, for forgetting, for not believing.

Just as he seeks out the disciples and Peter, so Jesus seeks us out as well, no matter

what we have done. Christ is risen (Christ is risen indeed). Christ is among us. Christ

continues to reconcile us to God every day.


And we are tasked with following this Christ of reconciliation, whom we know

to be at work in our day-to-day lives. Mark’s gospel is different- the end is so…

unsatisfying. Perhaps because that’s not the end. One of the commentaries I

listened to this week proposed that Mark wanted his readers to go back to the

beginning. The Greek actually ends with the preposition “because”- like english,

that’s not done in the Greek. It means that, perhaps, Mark intended his verses to be

read as “go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee.

There you will see him, just as he told you.’” 8 Trembling and bewildered, the

women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone; they were

afraid because

1:1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,[a] the Son of God.

The rest of the story is up to us- to go to Galilee and “see” Jesus. Hear the

message to go to Galilee, where Christ’s ministry began. There we will encounter

Jesus again, that we might continue to encounter him in the world, and that we

might be able to tell the story that those at the tomb could not tell.

Thanks be to God. Alleluia! Amen.

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