Have you ever been afraid, and amazed? At the same time?
Those are the emotions of the resurrection. Mark is our earliest gospel and most scholars will say our most honest, our most bare, our least re-touched account of these events. The women here do not look faithful; they do not “go and tell” their news – they aren’t even quite sure what it is, or that it’s good. They are amazed, and they are afraid. And of course they are. What else could they be?
A seminary professor of mine, Don Juel, was fascinated by the end of Mark – and so frustrated by our tendency to try to make it all ok. By our desperately saying, “Eventually the women must have told the story – how else would we have it today?”
He said the move Mark always makes is to set the divine free. Earlier in this gospel, the curtain in the temple rips – the holy of holies that it protected, the most sacred place of all, where God was thought to dwell – the curtain around it rips. My classmates said, “It’s to let people in. So now people can approach God. Now there’s no barrier.” My professor said, “Oh, no. It’s not to let people in. It’s to let God out.”
And here, the stone is rolled away. The women come and it’s gone and they are terrified and say nothing to anyone. But here’s what else this means – Jesus is out. Maybe the followers find their voices; maybe they don’t. This doesn’t depend on them. People even more afraid than these women tried to contain the love that Jesus gave away to the least likely among them; they tried to silence the challenge he posed to the powerful; they tried to suppress the stories he told about a reign of God that directly contradicted the rule of their day. But the stone is gone, and that love and that challenge and those stories – they’re all out again.
That’s the story we step into now. Even afraid and amazed, we take our places around the table, and know that the end of Mark’s story – unfinished as it is – is the beginning of ours.