Parts of this story are downright creepy. Maybe not creepy-creepy but there is part of it that kind of creeps me out. We don’t walk into a lot of tombs but Imagine walking into a room you believe is empty and out of nowhere someone starts talking to you. How do you react? Now, imagine walking into a columbarium or a memorial garden or something of that sort and out of nowhere someone starts talking to you. Wouldn’t that kind of creep you out? I mean, not to put too fine a point on it but Mary and Mary were expecting to find a crucified Christ and they got a young man talking to them? That’s one of those ‘raise the hair on the back your neck’ kind of moments, I should think. The text says that Mary and Mary, the mother of James were “alarmed.” I’m pretty sure ‘creeped out’ is what Mark really meant but didn’t was trying to be polite and all.
And well this story should raise the hair on the back of our necks. It’s an amazing story that should get us to pay attention but too often we downplay the power of what is happening here. We skip over the whole death part and jump to the amazing conclusion of resurrection. Something very special is going on when a tomb is empty and it should get our Spidey sense going when we run across an empty tomb. Not Spidey-sense in the creeped out fearlful spidey-sense but the something amazing is going on and I’m kind of digging it Spidey sense.
The trouble is, instead of being in awe of the incredible thing God has and is doing, our faith is too often sidetracked by the creeped out fearful part of us. The trouble is, instead of living in awareness of God working in our lives, our life is too often sidetracked by the creeped out fearful part of us.
Fear has been a recurring theme for the players in this story. In the Garden before his arrest Jesus tells the disciples that they’ll desert him. Peter responds that he won’t desert Jesus but when it came down to it Peter was afraid of being guilty by association so he does indeed deny Jesus three times. And Mary and other Mary? They were ‘alarmed’ and then later they ran away in terror.
Fear kept them from being faithful. Faithful to the one who had come to save them. Fear of retribution, fear of death, fear of the unknown kept them from being faithful. And they ran from Christ.
Fear has become a recurring them for our story, as well. Somebody has figured out that the survival bit in our brains responds to things that make us afraid, that set off our Spidey sense, even when those things don’t actually threaten us. We turn the channel to whatever has captured our interest, we click on the links that get our attention and so the content providers get more and more extreme with their content as they strive for more and more dollar generating traffic.
It’s like fear has taken a permanent spot at our table.
It is kind of a fear du jour game. We get shook up about things that are not likely going to every happen near us, much less to us and when that fearful piece of content that grabbed our attention becomes boring and blasé, we are given something new to be afraid of. And the circle continues on and on as we become more and more fearful.
The reality is we have very little to fear. There are things to be wise about, no question about that. A lack of fear does not equate to doing the things I did with my motorcycle when I was 19 and my prefrontal cortex had not yet started making better and wiser decisions. Easter doesn’t mean being foolish but it does mean that we really have nothing to fear.
Certainly death has no hold on us thanks to Christ’s victory over sin and the victory over death that follows. I know that is countercultural to say that death has no hold on us but let’s think about that for a second. Your sins are forgiven and since your sins are forgiven death no longer has a hold on you. Christ has saved you from sin and death. Thank Christ for that. No really, give Christ thanks for that.
The best part of what Christ has done? You don’t deserve it but you get it anyway! How often has THAT happened in your life? You’ve been given a get into heaven free card and you didn’t have to earn it. In fact there is nothing you could do TO earn it. It is a gift from God.
All those that weren’t faithful to Jesus that we were talking about earlier? The disciples and Peter? Mary and the other Mary? Fearful and faithless and guess what? They’re forgiven. Those times you’ve been fearful and felt faithless? You’re in good company and you’re forgiven.
Makes me think of those Oprah memes where everyone gets something. Forgiveness for you, forgiveness for you, everyone gets forgiveness!
If we are forgiven, and we are, if we have the promise of eternal life, and we do, then we are freed, freed to share the good news a bring a risen Christ’s love to life. Bringing a risen Christ’s love to life by feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, clothing people who need it, visiting the prisoner and healing the sick. Bringing a risen Christ’s love to life by purchasing shoes, by preparing meals, by delivering meals, by stocking a food pantry and by making a difference in our community.
If we are forgiven, and we are, if we have the promise of eternal life, and we do, then we are freed, freed from our fear and freed to put
back at our table. Living in awe of the amazing things God has and is doing, living in the awareness of God working in our lives. With Christ at the center of our lives.
That’s the message of Easter. Christ died for our sins and we are forgiven. Christ has the victory over death and we share in that victory. Death has no hold on us and we have… nothing to fear.