How Will The Story End For You?
Did you know that the earliest Easter story from the gospel of Mark (Mark 16:1-8) ended with “So they went out and fled form the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid”? No sighting of Jesus by the women or the disciples? No Jesus showing up to greet them or walking through walls? No sending of God’s peace to the frightened disciples? No, and not even a soul saying anything about all this!
I recently shared this account in a bible study I was conducting and got a very predictable response, “What? What about Mary touching the risen Christ? What about the disciples seeing him for the first time? What about Jesus showing himself to different people? This can’t be so!
Amidst the challenge of this Easter account is a common literary device used in the bible of telling a story without a complete ending or the ending in mind you were hoping for. It is like a TV show that ends with a cliff-hanger to make you want to come back and see the next episode. It is meant to suck you into the story so that you provide your own ending – how you would like to see the things happen. Instead of giving you the ending, you have to work at what you want the ending to be.
Mark gives us this account so that we will struggle with how we want to deal with the resurrection of Christ in our own lives of faith. Will we continue to be seized with fear and paranoia of what goes on in the world from day to day? Will we be simply amazed at what happened on Easter to the point where it is only a magnificent story to celebrate? Or, will we seek out the risen Christ only to find him risen and alive and bringing us new life? Will we be open to meeting the risen Christ along the road, in our homes, in our gatherings and all the other places we hear that Jesus showed up and showed himself to the original followers? Will we come to believe Christ’s promise that he will be with us always to the end of the age?
We all have to decide how we want to deal with the death and resurrection of Christ. It can be an amazing story only or one that transforms our lives, giving us renewed hope and joy. We can be paralyzed by fear and grief, or we can be brought alive again through the grace and mercy of God that brings life out of death. We can try and make our lives work by our own will or merit or rely on the one who continually comes to us in the Holy Spirit to give us guidance and strength. How will this story end for you? How will this story impact your life?
My prayer is that the familiar stories of Holy Week and Easter will find their way into your hearts and lives in a new and exciting way. May the power of God’s victory over sin, evil and death itself bring renewed hope and joy to your life so that you will go out share this good news. May this transformative event shape your story and your life each and every day!
Pastor Scott Sessler
November 15, 2018
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