Toft Methodist Church, 12th April 2009, Mark 16:1-8; Acts 10:34-43
<<The empty tomb is just the beginning. Despite our weaknesses and fears the world is changed forever.>>
“They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” - so ends Marks Gospel.
Our second reading Peter speaking to a Roman soldier: “You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ – he is Lord of all.”
Mark's gospel ends with the women saying nothing – but we know that's not the end of the story.
They must have told Mark what had happened – or told someone else who then told Mark.
And very soon people all around the Mediterranean were hearing about the empty tomb – including Cornelius the centurion in Caesarea.
Mark ends his gospel with those 3 frightened women running away.
Not the most promising start to a movement that was meant to change the world, you might think. But it's not the end of the story.
In fact in those early days after the resurrection there were a number of times when it looked like this new religious movement would grind to a halt almost as soon as it had started.
- The women run away from the place where Jesus rose from the dead
- The disciples lock themselves in an upper room, afraid of persecution by the Jewish leaders
- Simon Peter, in the lead up to our reading from Acts, ums and ahs about whether he should associate with a Gentile.
The men and women who witnessed Jesus' resurrection were just like you and me, full of fears and doubts. There were a number of times they looked like they would keep their new found faith to themselves and never tell another soul.
But remarkably, and amazingly they began to share that news with others. God's Good News could not be contained by people's fear. And soon every city and town in the Roman empire had a group of Christians meeting to pray.
Isn't that good news for us? That however small or marginalised or fearful the church might be, God's still chooses to shine his light through us.
We might feel that we are too small, too overlooked to make a difference. Jesus says: you're not. Not with me you're not.
In chapter 1 verse 1 Mark's Gospel entitles his gospel: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”. The beginning. You mean Mark, your book is just the beginning – there is more to come?
And it is just the beginning. 3 frightened people running away from an event that would change the world.
That was just the beginning. The good news of Jesus continues today. In our lives, in our homes, in our villages.
This Easter morning is a new beginning for us. What will God write with the rest of your life. How will he use you to share the message of hope? And remember – no excuses – he will use absolutely anybody.
“Here are your disciples” p198 Stages on the Way