Text: Mark 16:1-8
5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here.
Blessed Easter to you all as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord!
But that is not how the day began … that first Easter.
16 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint [Jesus].
For the woman here the day begins early. It is past the Sabbath.
2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.
The Apostle Luke writes: at early dawn, they went to the tomb,
St Matthew tells us: toward the dawn of the first day of the week,
And John writes in his Gospel: 20 Now, on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark,
Four gospels, four accounts … all four evangelists tell of an early visit to the tomb.
The number of women named varies. Mary Magdalene, James’ mother Mary, and Salome are named in Mark’s gospel while St. Luke adds Joanna and the other women, leaving the possibility of other women who are not named that may have also gone to help at the tomb.
There are two truths here. They were going to deal with the body of a dead man. One who had been crucified on Friday and left in a hot desert tomb over the Sabbath, to finish preparing the body of Jesus for burial.
The other truth - no men were there.
Why? Well Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had already wrapped the body of Jesus in linen cloths and placed it in a hand cut tomb. John’s account adds that the body had been anointed with 75-100 pounds of spices.
For the men - maybe the job of anointing the body and burial was done.
For the women, because of the crucifixion and quick burial, much had happened. From 3 pm on Good Friday when Jesus said “It is finished,” bowed his head and gave up his spirit to the beginning of the Sabbath rest at 6 pm, there are only three hours. That doesn’t leave much time to request the body of Jesus from Pilate, take it down from the cross, prepare it for burial, and then bury it and roll the stone in place.
There was much to do in the little time available. Maybe the women felt they needed more time for a proper buriel?
But one truth does come to mind in the reading of all four accounts.
Jesus was dead.
3 [As the women approached the tomb,] they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.
For you and me dear friends there is a stone, a very large stone, a spiritual stone – you see, you and I were dead too.
The physical stone that the women were concerned about could be moved – maybe not by them but with a few others it could be moved and they could anoint the dead. That is why they went.
But not the spiritual stone and not a heart of stone dead in trespass and sin they couldn’t help with that, because that is you and that is me and we need anointing too because we are dead. Not with spices and not with oils but with the anointing of one who changes hearts and lives from death to life.
To anoint a dead body you have to roll away the stone and enter the tomb.
The women were prepared to do that for Jesus to honor him with the best they could buy, even though a large quantity of spices had been used already and the stone rolled in place, they went - to where death lay - and with the best anointing oils they could buy.
Jesus had been anointed before. You might remember the story from Mark Chapter 14 where Jesus was reclining at the home of Simon the Leper, and a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume and pure nard and broke it and poured it over his head. Those present were indignant at the waste because why anoint a living person when it could have been sold and the money given to the poor?
6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.
We too were in a sense anointed beforehand.
Before we were born we were anointed with the sin of Adam and Eve, marked for death, conceived and brought forth in sin.
What God had created perfect was broken and we were born dead in trespass and sin. Eph 2:1
But thankfully God didn’t leave us for dead.
5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 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.
The spices and oils to anoint the body of Jesus were no longer needed. He was not there. He had risen from death to life.
In the same way also you have left death behind.
The Holy Spirit, which you were anointed with at your baptism, has washed you clean and by his power, connected to the word, has rolled away the stone of spiritual death from your heart so that being dead in trespass and sin, and dead to God, you now have been made alive in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Because of the Holy Spirit in you, you see not through the eyes of death … but through the eyes of faith fixed on the one who has conquered sin, death and the devil in your place.
7 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.”
By faith you also see. You see a resurrected Christ, you see life eternal, and you see Jesus … He has risen, indeed! Alleluia!
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.