“When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome … went to the tomb. … And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.’ … And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” (Mark 16:1a, 2b, 5-6, 8 ESV)
This is the whole ending of Mark—that is, the text we can be sure of. (There are other bits that people have added on through the years, but we can’t be sure any of them are original. Consult your study Bible or footnotes to see what I mean.)
And boy, is it a weird place to end! “They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Afraid? Why not overjoyed, surprised, happy, delighted … no. They were afraid.
These are not cowardly women. They had the guts to leave their safe room and travel to a tomb to handle a dead body. They knew they were risking arrest or assault. They could face all of those fears. But Jesus’ resurrection puts them over the edge.
Why? Maybe because for so many, many years, the human race has known only one story: birth, life, death. The end. It is a terrifying and heartbreaking story, but it is the only one we knew. Now comes Jesus who turns the old story upside down. He is alive—out of the grave, free from death’s power—and suddenly anything might happen. Anything!
What about you, when your life is turned upside down? What is the cure for that kind of fear? Only Jesus. He is the only One who could take their fear—or ours—and turn it into rejoicing. He came to meet them as they ran back to Jerusalem. He comes to meet us, too, because He knows our need.
Prayer: Lord, let me cling to You when my life is turned upside down. Amen.
* When have you been afraid of something new?
* Would you be afraid if someone you loved suddenly rose from the dead? Why or why not?
* Tell about a time when Jesus turned fear into joy for you.
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Reprinted from Lutheran Hour Ministries
(To view the entire “Lenten Devotions” mini-series, please click here.)