Go and Tell. Do Not Be Afraid!
This is my written text for my Easter Sunday sermons on March 27. The lesson is Mark 16:1-8. I've included my Small Talk (Children's Message) because it connects to a part of my message that I wanted to be sure didn't get lost in the activity at the end of my sermon.
I have a gift for each of you. Do you know what it is?
It kind of looks like an Easter egg, but they aren’t a bright color, are they. And they have holders, can you read what they say on there?
He has risen!
Do you know who they’re talking about? JESUS!
That is what we celebrate today is that Jesus has been raised from the tomb. And while this looks like a grey Easter egg, it really represents the tomb that they put him in when he died on Good Friday.
Open up the tomb. He is not there, but a cross is.
Because he died on the Cross, we are forgiven for our sins. That is what makes Good Friday good.
Because the tomb is empty, because he is not there, because he has been raised, then we too will be raised after we die.
What Jesus did on Good Friday on the Cross, and on Easter Sunday with the empty tomb means that we cannot do anything to separate ourselves from the love of God.
The cross reminds us that he has taken our sins away, and the empty tomb means we will go to heaven to be with him.
So these two things go together and will remind you of how much Jesus loves you.
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In Mark's Gospel, there are two unique parts the story of the Resurrection.
One, no one actually sees the Risen Christ. The women only have the word of the young man.
Two, no one shares the news that Jesus has been raised. The women tell no one because they were afraid and alarmed.
These two features so troubled people that they decided to correct them. That's why Mark has three different endings. You have the original ending that we read, you have the shorter ending with a quick summary borrowing from the endings of the other 3 Gospels. The longer ending incorporates details from Luke’s Gospel. If you don’t believe me, look at your Bible when you get home. The stuff after verse 8 has brackets around it, and probably a lot of footnotes. If you can’t wait, get out your phone and look it up in your Bible app.
Does it matter that no one has seen the Risen Christ? The women have seen that the tomb is empty. The angel told them Christ has been raised.
Because he has been raised, because the tomb is empty, our tomb shall be empty, too. We will be raised. He died to show us that we can not do anything to separate ourselves from the love of God.
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
While we are alive, Christ was raised from the dead for us.
In between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, Christ descended to the dead, or into hell. That’s what we proclaim in the Apostle’s Creed. He shared the Good News of the love of God with the dead, and they believed. His death and resurrection make God’s love and salvation available for all. We cannot do anything to separate ourselves from the love of God.
We are dust, and to dust we surely will return, but because the tomb is empty, and because he has been raised, we won't remain dust. Death has been defeated. God loves us so much that we will spend eternity in God’s divine presence.
Good Friday and Easter Sunday both lead to resurrection. We understand resurrection in terms of life, but can we also understand it as a new life without the weight and burden of our sins dragging and holding us down? It is like new life coming in the Spring after a long, cold, hard winter.
Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified – he has been raised!
The impossible is now possible; what cannot be is. That is the beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God that Mark proclaimed at the beginning of his Gospel. Mark’s listeners had to decide if they believed that He has been raised, just as we do. None of us know anyone who has seen the Risen Christ.
Somebody got unafraid. Word got out that the tomb was empty; Jesus was not there. He has been raised. And the people they told believed. That is the story of our faith. We have been told that the tomb was empty; he is not there; he has been raised.
The women were told that Jesus was no longer in the tomb; he had been raised.
They were told to share this Good News. But they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone.
I can just imagine how the women must have felt when they returned home.
"Hey Salome, where did you go at the crack of dawn?"
"Oh, I just went for a walk with Mary and Mary."
"That's nice. What happened to all those spices you bought before the Sabbath?"
"Ummmmm, we took them with us."
"Where did you go?"
"Never mind; enough about me. What are you going to do today?"
Mark tells us why the women don’t tell anyone. They were alarmed. They were afraid. Fear makes us quiet.
But that makes sense. You see, Mark has told us, over and over again, that Jesus tried to teach the disciples that he would suffer, be killed, and rise again from the dead. They didn’t understand.
It is a pattern in Mark's Gospel. The people who should know what's going on, like the disciples, don't. Jesus teaches them, and they don’t understand. The people who do know who Jesus is can't be trusted. The demons Jesus casts out know he is the Son of God. The Roman centurion watches Jesus dies and says, "Truly, this man was God's son." Everyone who should know, don't get it. Those who do, can't be counted on.
But there's another who has seen and heard everything Jesus has said and done.
Someone who heard the Good News at the empty tomb and heard the order to go and tell. Who is it? It's you, and me, and all who have read or heard Mark's gospel.
Mark was counting on those who heard from him to go and tell.
Do not be afraid. Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, he has been raised; he is not here. Go and tell.
I’d like everyone to take out their cell phones, turn the ringers ON, and text, email or message someone that #HeHasBeenRaised. That message, with the hash tag is in our bulletins. Leave the ringers on to hear the responses. This church’s Facebook account sent that message when the service started so you can share and pass it along when you get home.
Share the Good News. The tomb is empty. He has been raised. DO NOT BE AFRAID!!
This is my message for our Services of the Last Supper, which were on Wednesday, March 23 & Thursday, March 24. The text was Mark 14:22-42.
In Mark’s Gospel, more so than the other three, Jesus feels alone. While he knows what awaits him, and has told his disciples what is to come, now that the hour is here, he feels alone.
He knows that this meal he celebrates with his closest friends will be his last meal. But he made it more than that. He told them, and they told others so that it would be shared to us and through us, that this meal was more than what it signified.
The Passover meal is a sacred tradition in the Jewish culture, but especially so for the Jews of Jesus time when, while you could celebrate Passover anywhere, you had to be in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover meal. It begins with someone, usually the youngest person, asking, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” That allows the story to be told of how the people of Israel were delivered out of slavery in Egypt. The entire meal helps to tell the story of what God has done for the Chosen People, how they were freed and blessed so they could be a blessing to the world.
Jesus takes the opportunity of this meal, and all of the symbolism to tell his disciples of the new thing that God is doing in the world, and how THAT night would be different from all other nights.
At the beginning of the meal, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and said the blessing. Then he broke it to give it to his disciples, and added to the formal story of Passover. He told them This is my body. It was his final sharing, giving all that he was, to and for his friends. That statement, This is my body, hung over the entire meal.
When it came time for the third portion of wine to be distributed at the end of the meal, Jesus gave thanks to God for it, and shared it with his disciples. AFTER they drank it, he told them, This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. The term for many means for all. While they celebrate the deliverance that is part of the covenant God made with Moses, Jesus tells them that his blood seals a new covenant between God and all people.
Then they went to the Mount of Olives and to Gethsemane. It was here in this garden that Jesus tells his disciples that they will all desert him. I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. Peter says he will die before abandoning Jesus. He is told that before dawn, he will deny Jesus three times. Again Peter says he will die before denying Jesus. The others agree, they will die before abandoning Jesus.
When Jesus goes away to pray, he asks the disciples to stay awake. He comes back three times to find them asleep. He is alone. When they come to arrest Jesus, all his disciples run away in fear, including one who runs out of his clothes to get away.
The Son of God, who knows what lies ahead, threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” He begs his Father to give him a way out; he doesn’t want to do this. A commentator said that for you all things are possible are the most excruciating words in all of Scripture. Jesus confesses that God can do whatever God wants, and that it may be possible that he does not have to face the cross. He is begging for there to be another way.
He is alone, separated from his followers. He feels separated from God. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus says only one thing from the cross. Eloi, eloi, lema sabachthani? My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
But while he feels alone, he still is faithful. Not what I want, but what you want.
Jesus isn’t surrendering to his fate; he is surrendering to God, and to God’s will. It isn’t giving up, it is trust. It is telling God that he will embrace whatever the will of God is.
Jesus has shared his fears and anxieties with God. He has let God know he wants a way out. Jesus has cried out for another way, another chance. But he trusts in the love of God.
When he had finished praying, he lived out part of the prayer he taught his disciples, that we have learned from an early age. Thy will be done.
We pray that all of the time, but do we really mean it?
Our wants, wishes and desires are often in conflict with God’s will. We know what God’s will is: Love God, Love Others. But there is a huge difference between knowing and recognizing God’s will and doing God’s will. There is just a sizeable distance between doing God’s will and trusting God’s will.
If there is any example that we can take from the life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God it is realizing when our wants conflict with God’s will, and trusting God’s will. Not what I want, but what you want.
Jesus Christ has turned in the Garden of Gethsemane to face those who want to arrest him. Thy will be done.
This is my written text for my sermon on March 20, Palm Sunday. The lessons are Mark 11:1-11 (the entry into Jerusalem) and Mark 14:3-9 (the woman anointing Jesus.) This is my manuscript, but I only referred to it for quotations.
One of the passions I have in studying the Gospels is comparing how they tell the same story in different ways. Both of the readings we have today appear in all four Gospel. Each of them has features that are completely unique.
Our first reading is traditionally known as the “Triumphal Entry.” But look at the lesson, does there seem to be much triumph in Jesus coming into Jerusalem? Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
John calls it a “great crowd.” Luke describes “a whole multitude,” Matthew records that “The whole city was stirred.” But here in Mark, “many people.” Matthew and Luke have Jesus going directly to the Temple to thrown out the money changers. John has Jesus and the disciples being asked questions by the throngs who have come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
Mark writes, Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
It was late, so they went back to Bethany. It would be a big day, the next day, for according to Mark, that is when Jesus would go to the Temple and chase out the money changers.
When we read the Gospels, because we are familiar with the stories, we need to be very patient and cautious as we read them or we may miss some of the unique details.
I want to focus on the anointing of Jesus by the woman. Again, this is a story told in all four Gospels. (Story of the woman anointing Jesus is in Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 13:3-9; Luke 7:38-50; and John 12:1-8) All but Luke put this in Bethany in the last week of Jesus’ life; Luke records it happening earlier in Jesus’ ministry at the home of a Pharisee. Mark writes that the home belongs to Simon the leper, as does Matthew, while John says it is the home of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, and his sister Mary does the anointing.
The three who write that this occurred in Bethany all agree that this pure nard was very expensive. Three hundred denarii is a year’s wages. As with most perfumes and colognes, a little bit goes a long way. But the woman pours all of it on Jesus, and the odor fills the house.
Someone, Mark doesn’t tell us who; Matthew says the disciples, John writes it was Judas Iscariot, complains about the waste: This ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.
Each time, Jesus responds: For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. He is not saying that because there will always be poor people, don’t bother doing anything to help them. But he says there will always be poor people. He knows this because he knows that we will always have people who won’t have enough. Some people will have more than they need and won’t be willing to give or share it, and so, you always have the poor with you.
But you will not always have me. Her anointing does two things. Pouring oil on someone, in this time, was what you would do for a king. This is how David was named king; he was anointed. The word Messiah means anointed one. She is honoring Jesus as a king, just as the sign that will be placed over his head on the cross, “The King of the Jews.”
Secondly, She has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. To prepare a body, you put oil, spices and herbs on the body. Jesus knows what awaits him. Mark writes this happens on Wednesday. The next evening he will be arrested, and the following afternoon, he will be crucified.
This gets me to one of the little details about this text I’d never noticed before. In explaining the woman’s actions, he says, She has done what she could.
When we are faced with all of what life puts before us, taking care of our families, our selves, helping others, saving for the future, resting and recharging, sometimes we can feel overwhelmed. There is just too much to do, and not enough to do what we want, let alone do and help everyone and everything. She has done what she could.
A jar of perfumed ointment worth a year’s wages. What good could three hundred denarii done for the poor of Jerusalem? Could it take care of the widow who put all of her money into the treasury? Could it have helped the blind and crippled who lined the streets of Jerusalem?
One of the ironies of this passage is while Jesus says, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her, we don’t know who she is. John says it is Mary, Lazarus’ sister, but Mark doesn’t give her a name. It is often portrayed that this is Mary Magdalene, and she does it in response to Jesus healing her from the demons that tormented her. It could be a relative of Simon the leper, whom we assume Jesus healed. Who ever she is, her action was probably in response to what Jesus had done for her or her family.
How have we responded to what Jesus has done for us? In response to his teachings, what have we done? In response to his dying on the cross, what have we done? In response to his being raised, what have we done?
It is true, we can’t do everything. You always have the poor with you.
But when faced with all there is to do, this unnamed woman made a choice. She has done what she could. She chose to show Jesus her appreciation and love.
Have you done what you could?
Pastor Brian's Page
Pastor Brian Robert Campbell has served at Our Savior's and Emmanuel since August 1, 2011, and began serving Nazareth on December 1, 2015.
Pastor Brian is originally from Saginaw, Michigan. He graduated from Alma College with a B.A. in Business Administration, and worked for the Saginaw Public Schools' Community Education Department for 17 years before answering the call to ministry. He graduated with a M. Div. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. ONE in Christ Lutheran Parish is his first call.
He is the only child of Robert and Charlotte Campbell, both who have entered the Church Eternal.
He is accompanied in ministry by his faithful bulldogge Ananias, who regularly writes for our newsletter. His articles are archived here.
He is a fan of sports teams from his native Michigan, especially the Tigers and the Lions. But we tolerate him despite that.
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