It bothered me. It really did! The first time I watched Jesus Christ Superstar – it really bothered me that they did not show the resurrection. Same thing when I saw Godspell; where was the next part of the story? But now, I get it. The makers of those plays might not have been thinking about the gospel of Mark when they told the story the way they did – but there’s something in all the Gospels that we miss. When the resurrection happened, no -one was there. When the resurrection happened, people were locked up behind doors, afraid to go outside. When the resurrection happened, no-one saw it. And in Mark’s gospel, the women who came closest to it – who heard the testimony of a strange young man who shone like the sun – even they ran away, afraid to say anything to anyone about it.
The most astonishing things can happen and no-one knows. The most amazing and God-inspired events may happen, and the news doesn’t get out until later. Easter happens, even when we’re huddled in our homes, afraid of what’s outside.
That’s a very simple message, but a profound one, for this particular time and place. I know there are people wondering where God is in the midst of this pandemic – even though there have been much worse disasters in human history. It’s been a long time since us 21st century Canadians have experienced this level of change and threat in our lives, and we inevitably wonder what the heck God is doing! In a way the answer to that question, the story of Easter suggests is: whatever it is, we’re going to miss it – at least at first. It will take a while for word to get out, for us to experience the power of new life and new hope right here, in our own homes, our own church, our own lives.
How does news get out? Maybe it’s just a rumour, a whisper of hope, as one woman says to the other, “Did you see what I saw? Do you think it could possibly be real?” And then, bolstered by their common experience, they tell the disciples, who have a similar experience of their own. And then word slowly leaks out, until all of the people connected to his amazing new thing are speaking confidently and powerfully of what they have experienced.
People believe in the eternal, resurrected Christ for many reasons: one of them being that someone they trusted – truly trusted! – told them it was real; another is that they read the Scriptures and felt that there was something deeply true about these stories; another is that they had their own experience of God at work in their lives, and they put that together with what they heard from those trusted people and the testimony of the Bible, and said – aha! I met Jesus!
There’s a story told about a seminary student who was scheduled to preach in the college chapel service one day. He had never preached a sermon before, he was nervous and afraid, and he stayed up all night, but in the morning, he didn’t have a sermon. He stood in the pulpit, looked out at his classmates and said “Do you know what I am going to say?” All of them shook their heads “no” and he said “Neither do I. The service has ended. Go in peace.”
The dean was not happy. “I’ll give you another chance tomorrow, and you had better have a sermon.” Again he stayed up all night; and again he couldn’t come up with a sermon. Next morning, he stood in the pulpit and asked “Do you know what I am going to say?” The students all nodded their heads “yes.” “Then there is no reason to tell you” he said. “The service has ended. Go in peace.”
Now the dean was angry. “I’ll give you one more chance; if you don’t have a sermon tomorrow, you will be asked to leave the seminary.” Again, no sermon came. He stood in the pulpit the next day and asked “Do you know what I am going to say?” Half of the students nodded “yes” and the other half shook their heads “no.” The student preacher then announced “Those who know, tell those who don’t know. The service has ended. Go in peace.”
The seminary dean walked over to the student, put his arm over the student’s shoulders, and said “Those who know, tell those who don’t know. Today, the gospel has been proclaimed.” Steven Molin, Four Truths and a Lie
Share to good news my friend: new life is already here. Jesus Christ is risen! Hallelujah! Amen.