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March 31, 2024

You Have Arrived!

Preacher: Rev. Jack Meehan Series: Journey to Joy: Lent 2024 Category: Biblical Scripture: Mark 16:1–8

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Sunday

March 31, 2024

Mark 16:1-8

 “Journey to Joy: You Have Arrived!”

Some weeks back during the Lenten season, I titled one of my sermons, “Are We There Yet?” Some of you may remember this – or not. That question which both kids and adults ask on long car trips is answered today: You Have Arrived! You have arrived – not from a long car trip, but from a different long journey that we’ve been on throughout the Lenten season. It has brought us to this day of resurrection and new life that is Easter Sunday. It’s like the navigation app we use to get to wherever we’re going. That app tells us where to turn, what lane to be in, how long we’ll be on this stretch of road. We’re really come to rely heavily on these things for traveling. The old days of road maps, trip tiks, and atlases are pretty much gone as technology has replaced them. And when we use these navigation maps, what happens when you finally get to your destination? You get that cheery AI voice that lets you know: “You have arrived.” And so it is, my friends: we have arrived at our destination. The cross is empty and the tomb is open. We worship and serve a risen Savior Jesus Christ who has brought life and immortality to light through his rising from the dead. Our Lenten preaching series, “Journey to Joy,” concludes today with the theme “You Have Arrived.” May the Lord’s rich and abundant blessing rest upon the preaching, the hearing, and the living of his Word for Jesus’ sake.

The young pastor was speaking to a group of small children about Jesus’ resurrection when one student asked, “What did Jesus say right after He came out of the tomb?” Hmm… this was a question of great theological importance, but the pastor had to explain, in words suitable for his young listeners, that the Gospels do not tell us what Jesus said. The hand of one little girl shot up. “I know what He said,” she insisted. “And what was that?” asked the pastor. “Tah-dah!” the girl exclaimed. We may not find that in the Bible, but why not? Jesus’ big “tah-dah” on Easter morning came as a great shock to those women who were the first ones to go to his tomb. They had watched in anguish as Jesus suffered and died upon the cross. They had witnessed him brought down from the cross and hastily laid in a nearby tomb. They had resolved to honor him by anointing his body, and now they had arrived at their destination. But it wasn’t at all what they thought it would be. The stone was already rolled away, and what they was not the lifeless corpse of Jesus, but by his angel messenger, who shared the unbelievable good news with 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” (Mark 16:6b-7). How does a person take in and process news like this? Scripture doesn’t tell us what the women looked like after receiving this news, only that they were alarmed; startled; awe-struck. I’m thinking the women looked like what we would say “deer in the headlights” – stunned, eyes popping, jaws dropping open. They may well have been in shock. Everything had been turned upside-down for them. Yes, they had arrived at what they thought was their destination on that first Easter morning – the tomb of Jesus – but with his resurrection, their journey was just now beginning.

Mark’s account of Jesus’ resurrection is a bare-bones, stripped-down version as compared with what we read in the other Gospels (Matthew 28:1-10; Luke 24:1-12; and John 20:1-18). The response of the women who encountered the stone rolled away, the empty tomb, and the angel is very much on-target for how anyone – ourselves included – would react to such a situation. 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” (Mark 16:8). And that’s where most Biblical scholars believe Mark’s original version ended, with the verses which follow (vv. 9-20) being a later addition. Does this then call into question the truthfulness, the veracity, of what we read here? Not at all. The good news of Jesus’ resurrection remains just as steadfast and eternal as ever.

The final word in today’s Gospel lesson seems a strange way to end that lesson on Easter Sunday. The original word in verse 8 for “afraid” (έφοβοΰντο) is where we get our word “phobia,” to fear or be afraid of something. The women were understandably fearful and afraid after all that they had experienced. What is it that makes us fearful and afraid in our own lives? Many have written how we are living in a time of great fear, and I agree with this observation. We are fearful of many things. We are fearful of the future. We are fearful of change, and fearful of failure. We are fearful of those who differ from us. We are fearful of losing our place, or never finding our place. We are fearful of being swept up in circumstances and events beyond our control. We are fearful of illness, both for our loved ones and for ourselves. But most of all, we are fearful of death. When all is said and done, that is the final destination for us all. Or is it? The promise made by God through the prophet Isaiah which we heard in today’s Old Testament lesson (Isaiah 25:6-9) has been gloriously fulfilled in our crucified and risen Savior Jesus Christ: “And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever.”

In Jesus, our final destination is not death and the grave – this is the great, good news of Easter. For the child of God, eternal life begins now – this side of the grave. Jesus has come to set us free from the fears that crowd out life and light. Through his life-giving death upon the cross, we have been set free from sin and death. Through his rising from the grave, we have been set free to live that full and abundant life that he came to bring (John 10:10). Of course, life is uncertain. We don’t know what tomorrow may bring. But by the grace of God in our risen Savior, we know where we are going. We know who carries us in his nail-pierced hands from this life to life eternal. We know our final destination. And when our journey to joy is at last complete, we will hear those wonderful words, “You have arrived!” And these will be spoken to us not on an app by some disembodied entity or AI, but by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who laid down his life for us and who has prepared a place from the foundation of the world for all who love him (Matthew 25:34).

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen!

other sermons in this series

Mar 29


Good Friday Meditation

Preacher: Rev. Jack Meehan Scripture: Mark 15:33–41 Series: Journey to Joy: Lent 2024

Mar 28


At the Table

Preacher: Rev. Jack Meehan Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:23–32 Series: Journey to Joy: Lent 2024

Mar 24


Palms and Passion

Preacher: Rev. Jack Meehan Scripture: Philippians 2:5–11 Series: Journey to Joy: Lent 2024