Mark 16: 1 – 8 He’s Going Ahead of You to Galilee Easter Sunday April 4, 2021



He’s Going Ahead of You to Galilee

Mark 16: 1 – 8


(preached on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021)


The first followers of Jesus were faithful Jews, and as faithful Jews they obeyed the commandment that forbid working on the Sabbath.  So the women come to the tomb as soon as they can after the Sabbath, on that first Easter morning.  As Mark tells us, they are nearly overcome with sorrow.  Jesus, their beloved Lord, has died.  They come to perform one last loving act for him.  They come with spices to anoint his body for burial.  As they walk along, the women worry that they won’t be able to get into the tomb to anoint his body.  A heavy stone has been rolled across the opening.  Imagine their surprise when they arrive at the tomb, to find the stone rolled away!


But their surprise turns quickly to alarm when they go inside and see that Jesus isn’t there.  A young man dressed in white tells them, “He’s not here; he is risen.  But go, tell his disciples…that he is going ahead of you to Galilee.”  Now the women’s alarm turns to fear.  As Mark puts it, “terror and amazement [seize] them.”  They flee from the tomb and say nothing to anyone, for they are terrified.


On this note of fear and trembling, Mark’s gospel ends.  Three women, scared to death, running from an empty tomb.  They don’t say a word.  They don’t know what to make of it all.  They are speechless, caught by surprise.  And the surprises don’t end with the empty tomb.  There’s another surprise: the women are invited – invited to a reunion in Galilee!  Not only is Jesus risen – he’s off and running.  He wants them to meet up with him in Galilee.  They must be flabbergasted.  Galilee is where he first met them; it is their home.  But Galilee is an ordinary place, a backwater really.  Galilee?  Why Galilee?


They might well have wondered, why not Jerusalem?  Surely, if Jesus is really risen, he would want to stay in Jerusalem, to glory in his resurrection.  Surely he would want to stride up to the temple, mount the steps and say to the crowd, “See?  I’m back!  Death could not hold me.  See?  God’s power really is stronger than death.”


Surely Jesus would want to go up to the governor’s mansion and knock on Pontius Pilate’s door.  He would want to tell the governor, “Guess what?  You made a big mistake.  The trial, the beatings, the execution, all that didn’t stop me.  I’m living proof that God’s resurrection power has defeated death.  Pilate, your death-dealing ways are history!”


Jerusalem: that would be the place for Jesus to proclaim God’s triumph over death.

But Jerusalem isn’t the place.  At the tomb the young man tells the women, Jesus was here, but you just missed him!  He doesn’t want to linger in Jerusalem.  Put on your walking shoes because guess what?  He wants you to join him in Galilee!


On that first Easter morning, as the women run through the empty streets, they can’t find words to tell what they have seen.  Mark leaves us with these tongue-tied, fearful women, fleeing from the empty tomb.  It may seem like an odd way to end the story of God’s own Son, come to dwell among us.  It feels open ended.


But maybe Mark is trying to tell us something.  Maybe Mark leaves the story open ended like this to tell us that the story isn’t over.  Maybe Mark is trying to tell us that it’s our story now.  It’s time for us, like those women, to get a move on.  No need to hang around the tomb because – guess what?  Jesus isn’t there.  He’s gone ahead, to meet us where we live.  He’s gone ahead, so that wherever you and I might be in our lives, we will find him.


Jesus has been raised in power and glory.  Now he’s gone ahead.  Now he waits for us in the Galilees of our lives.  He waits for us in the ordinary places, ready to fill those ordinary places with extraordinary hope.  He waits for us, ready to bring new life to places of death.  He’s been raised to fill our ordinary lives with his amazing grace.


Where is Galilee for you and me?  Our Galilee might be a classroom, where teachers and students work to understand the world.  We can find Jesus there, breathing patience and wisdom.  Our Galilee might be an emergency room, where nurses and doctors work around the clock to bind up wounds and mend the broken places.  We can find Jesus there, breathing hope, reassuring us that God is with us, that God holds the future, no matter what the future holds.  Our Galilee might be another kind of room: a court room, a room in a drug rehab facility, a room in a nursing home.


Wherever our Galilee might be, Jesus wants to meet us there.  It’s there that he calls us to spread the good news of God’s resurrection love.  It’s there that he calls us to live out God’s death-defying love; a love stronger than all the pain the world can throw at us; a love that even death cannot defeat.


What will you and I do, what will we say, to let loose God’s resurrection love in our lives today?  We might let loose that love in the way we give to those in need.  We might let loose that love when we say a resounding “no” to fear; “no” to hopelessness, when we say a resounding “no” to the ways of death.  The resurrection love of God will shine from us when we say a resounding “yes!” to God’s healing power, a resounding “yes!” to the great possibilities God opens before us, when we say a resounding “yes!” to the news that Jesus is risen and the Kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ.  And he shall reign forever and ever!  Amen.






Rev. Elva Merry Pawle

Easter Sunday


“The Holy City”  Stephen Adams           

Maria Ferrante, Soprano

Joyce Carpenter-Henderson, Pianist