So Many Questions (Easter Sunday)

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So many questions!  That’s always what Mark’s resurrection story leaves me with!  So many questions.  So few answers.  For example:

  • Where exactly is the Risen Jesus?  Yes, his body is gone and the angel says that when they go to back to Galilee, they’ll see him there.  But where is he now?  In all the other gospel accounts, the Risen Jesus appears at least to the women at the tomb.  But not in Mark’s account.  Where is Jesus right now?
  • And speaking of Galilee, just where is it that they’re supposed to go in Galilee to see Jesus?  It’s a fairly big area.  Perhaps they had all agreed that if they were separated, they’d meet back at certain place.  But Mark’s Gospel doesn’t record this conversation.  So just where are they supposed to go and what are they supposed to do?
  • And of course, they can’t possibly know to go to Galilee unless the women tell them.  But Mark says that they ran out of the tomb, and “said nothing to anyone because they were afraid.”  But, that can’t possibly be the end of it.  After all, we know they eventually DID tell the story.  And we wouldn’t have this piece of the story unless they described these events to somebody!  So what happened next?  Where does the story go from here?

But this is all we’ve got in Mark’s Gospel.  It’s the end.  And it’s not a very satisfying conclusion.  Perhaps that’s why people were always adding extra endings to it, which you’ll see in the notes or as “alternate endings” when you look in your Bibles.

Now there are theories, and some of them good theories, that maybe Mark didn’t end the story this way.  Maybe there was more, and it’s just been lost. That’s certainly possible.

But there’s another possibility.  Maybe Mark intended to leave us with these kinds of questions.  Maybe Mark didn’t end the story, because the point of the Resurrection is that the story doesn’t end.  And maybe Mark wants us to ask these questions not just of the lives the women and the other disciples, but for our own lives as well.

After all, the Resurrection didn’t just transform and change Jesus.  It also transformed and changed the lives of his disciples.  And as those disciples lived into a new age, they were always going to have questions, and the answers wouldn’t always be apparent.

And in these days, as we look forward to coming out of a time of pandemic, it’s apparent in our lives that our world has been, and is being, transformed around us.  Things have changed.  Things are going to be different.  And there are plenty of questions that we have about the how, when and what of the “new normal” that’s developing around us.

The answers aren’t apparent, just as they probably weren’t for those first disciples after the Resurrection.  But even though specific answers weren’t available for them – and often aren’t for us either – the questions themselves point us to a deeper truth rather than a specific answer.

For those first disciples, and for us, the question of:

  • “Where is Jesus?” – points us to the reality that Jesus is a living presence in our lives, even in a changed time and age.  That hadn’t been the case for the first disciples just a day before.  Jesus was dead and gone and they had to figure out how to live without him.  The Resurrection means that, even if we aren’t exactly sure where Jesus is at the moment and how Jesus is acting in our lives, we live into a new time with the realization that we’re not going there alone.  Jesus is going ahead of us, too, and promising to be present in whatever new reality we face, and in the context of whatever the “new normal” turns out to be… That was the Resurrection truth for the first disciples, and it’s the Resurrection truth for us as well…
  • “What are we supposed to do now?” – points us to the reality that there is a new day with new possibilities and new opportunities.  The first disciples thought their new possibilities stopped with Jesus’ death.  And sometimes, when an old way of living dies, it’s hard to see what’s next.  Actually, even after the disciples saw the Risen Jesus, they often had trouble living into the new ways (they were tempted to just go back to fishing).  But the reality of the Resurrection means that Jesus is leading us to new ways of living and giving us new opportunities to experience and share his presence with others, even if those ways aren’t clear at the moment… That was the Resurrection truth for the first disciples, and it’s the Resurrection truth for us as well…
  • “Where does the story of our lives go from here?” – points us to a new beginning, even when we thought we were at the end. Indeed, “where does the story go from here?” was the question the first disciples asked when they experienced the Resurrection, and maybe that’s the reason Mark left the question at the end.  But the question itself – both for them and for us – means that there is a future.  God always takes the end, and makes a new beginning.  And that means there’s always another part of our story – for all of us in a new post-Covid world, and for each of us, even beyond our own death… That was the Resurrection truth for the first disciples, and it’s the Resurrection truth for us as well…

Jesus’ Resurrection doesn’t give us all the answers to life.  It didn’t give all the answers to the first disciples either.

But the Resurrection of Jesus means that we don’t need all the answers, because the Risen Jesus is with us still, guiding us into new times and new experiences, helping us to see new opportunities to live and grow, and promising us that even when we reach an end, God will always give us a new beginning.