Easter Friday – Mark 16:1-8

1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 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. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 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.

There was something wrong, I could tell. She never told me. Her papers were off, her test scores down, and her work was suffering. I heard from another friend sometime later. I regret that I was not more astute or that I was not more approachable so that she could have talked to me about it. She was afraid. Someone, a man who was fixated upon her, had threatened her. It distorted every part of her life. She eventually dropped out of school.

Mark ends this account with the women fleeing the tomb, telling no one because they were afraid. It was hard to speak about Jesus in the first century. It is hard to do so in the 21st century. Fear of ridicule, rejection, and persecution are just a few of the fears you may have. The Spirit inspired Mark to speak to your fear today. Did you notice the other character in this story: the young man, clothed in white? Pointedly, this is not an angel but a young man. And what is up with the mention of his clothes? This is not a random fact and Mark is not making a statement about the man’s fashion sense here. He is giving us a key to understanding something. There are two other young men whose clothing is mentioned in this Gospel. He wants you to think about them as you hear the news of the Resurrection. The first you probably heard about within the last two weeks. A young man who followed Jesus and was in the garden. The soldiers who arrested Jesus tried to seize him too, but he ran out of his simple garment and fled naked (Mk 14:51-52). For a Jewish person in the ancient world, being naked was akin to losing your humanity. He was unmanned by his fear.

The other young man is not so well known. It is all the way back in chapter 5. There Jesus heals a demoniac with a legion of demons. They are sent into a herd of pigs who immediately jump off a cliff into the sea and drown. When the townspeople come out to see what is going on, they see the young man, calmly seated at Jesus feet, wearing clothes. This makes them very afraid, so much so that they ask Jesus to leave. The young man wants to go along. But Jesus sends him to tell what God has done for him. He does and all are amazed by what he says.  

Mark ends his Gospel account in such a strange way. Will the women tell the good news or not? Is he asking us the same question? Will you tell the good news, or will Easter’s message remain hidden by your fear? One young man lost his clothing. He was unmanned by his fear. The other was given his clothing and humanity back by the love, power, and mercy of Christ. He went on to tell and many were amazed at what he said. I heard later that that the young woman I had failed to help earlier was in fact doing much better. She returned to school. Somehow, she had overcome her fear. I believe Jesus was behind that. He is still helping people through their fears today and by the miracle of faith He opens our mouths to speak this good news, having given us our humanity back after fear takes it away.

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