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!!
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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