by Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose
Mark 16:1-8: The Resurrection of our Lord
1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' "
8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
We are going to celebrate the greatest festival of the Christian Church, “the Resurrection” also called the Easter. The Anglo-Saxon Goddess “Eostre” the Goddess of spring (fertility and creativity) may be the source of origin of the word Easter. Another pagan influence like the feast of Christmas. Connected with this, the tradition of Easter Eggs became part of the Easter gifts.
The Early Church did not have any of these paraphernalia. It was simply the event of the resurrection of the Lord that was important to the Church. The Resurrection became the pivotal feast because it opened up an entirely new faith system for the entire world. So far people were not aware of the experience of resurrection even though some of them witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus and the son of the widow by the power of Jesus.
People did not believe that Jesus himself will resurrect, in spite of His teaching His resurrection. Jesus’ disciples found the new experience of His resurrection so amazing and indeed unbelievable. It took some time for them to believe this new phenomenon. Like most of His wonderful teachings, resurrection was also beyond their comprehension. But Jesus confirmed them in their faith by appearing before them many times.
Easter/Resurrection gave the ultimate hope that this life simply does not come to an end by death. This new dimension of faith was hard to believe and communicate to others. But the Apostles experienced the resurrected Lord and their faith beyond the material world. The new experience helped evolve the concept of communion of the living and the departed.
It revolutionized their thinking and gave them more powerful witness to say, “that which we saw and touched…” This change of perspective helped them face the biggest challenge in life none other than ‘death’ itself. Death became no more a threat. When we see the millions of Christians who faced death in the name of the Lord during the first three centuries, we know how strong a conviction they had about the assurance of life after death in Jesus Christ.
Jesus told the disciples, “be not alarmed or afraid”, when appeared to them.
Jesus overcame death through his death and uprooted the greatest fear of human beings. Death is the greatest threat to all people. All fears are attached to the fear of death. Whether it is fear of poverty, lack of security, money, power, etc. we can see that all those are ultimately pointing to the fear of death. It is that fear that Jesus had uprooted. Jesus said, “he who believes in me will have eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:42).
It will be interesting to note that the entire faith system lingers around our faith in the resurrection. It casts out all kinds of fears and makes a person live in real peace.
When look back to our church life today, we should truly question us, “do we have this assurance?” We are so much afraid today. Our lack of faith in others, our court cases, fear of loss of property, position, thrones, power, authority, money, relations, etc. are all stemming out of our lack of faith in the resurrected of the Lord. We believe a lot these in principle but not in reality.
Let me share my own personal experience here. I used to be so afraid of loss and death.
Fear of accidents, especially on the plain travel, and fear of losing material things as mentioned above were all normal to me. It is later in my life through the Word of God that I was enlightened on this matter. Now I know, I have nothing to be afraid of because my life is secure in the hands of the living God. Living in him makes life a lot of different than living in one’s own way. Many of us who preach the resurrection need a lot more assurance of the power of resurrection. Once I lost the fear of loss and death, it was easy for me to acquire much richer peace, a right attitude towards material desires including money, position, achievement etc.
Today, our people need this faith in reality not just in words. These days, we have many more Christians who compromise with teachings of other religions and leaders only because they lack this experience in the Lord. Theologians and church leaders are scrambling for words to explain Jesus phenomenon. We have more great people who are willing to accept Jesus as one of the “good men” or “prophets” of history. Very few have the courage to witness Him as the living God. Thus our witness today is terribly affected. There is no “another” way for this, except our Lord. Because we failed to live the Christ-way we are now willing to make compromises with the rest of the thinkers, teachers and religious leaders. Only the faith in the resurrection will give us a new approach to our spirituality and witness. He is “THE Way, Truth and Life” (John. 14:6), and “Resurrection and life” (John 11:25).
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