I want to begin our Easter service with a very short, but I think lovely story that I first read a few years ago. A little boy and his father were driving down a country road on a beautiful spring afternoon. Suddenly out of nowhere a bumblebee flew in the car window. But what made this incident really terrifying was that the little boy was deathly allergic to bee stings. So, when he saw the bee, he became petrified. But his father, thinking quickly, reached out, grabbed the bee, squeezed it in his hand, and then released it. The bee then started to fly around inside the car again, as soon as he let it go. So the panic started all over again for the little boy. His father saw the panic on his boy’s face, he pulled the car off to the side of the road. Then he reached out his hand, but this time it was to show the boy something. There still stuck in his skin was the stinger of the bee. “Do you see this?” he said. “You don’t need to be afraid anymore. I’ve taken the sting for you.”
Reading: Mark 16:1-8
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'” Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
They arrived early.
These ladies didn’t arrive early in anticipation, but rather to take care of unfinished business. They had seen the tomb and where his body was laid after he was taken down from the cross. Yet, they had to return home where they prepared the spices, and ointments, but their work was delayed because of the Sabbath. Even though Joseph had anointed the Lord’s body, these ladies had to do this last thing for their Lord. As soon as they could, following the Sabbath, they left their homes, met together, and went to the tomb of Jesus. One must admire the devotion, and courage of these ladies. Oh, how they loved him! He must have a proper burial. It was the least they could do. They were courageous in what they did.
They did not fear the darkness nor did they fear being identified with Christ.
They arrived expecting.
What did those ladies expect? They expected to find a body. They came there to anoint the body of the Lord with spices, and ointments since they were unable to do so because of the Sabbath. What do we expect when we go to a graveyard? We expect that there will be tears shed, that there will be grieving,
and that a body will be lowered down in the ground, and covered with dirt. They arrived entering. As these ladies came to the place where they had seen the body of Christ laid, they were discussing how they would be able to get into the tomb. They had seen the huge stone that was rolled in front of it after his death,
and knew that it was too large for them to move. Their major concern was access to the body. Apparently these ladies had no confidence that the Roman Soldiers who had been dispatched to guard the tomb
would be courteous enough to roll away the stone. After all, had they not been instructed to seal the tomb…indicating that it was not to be disturbed. Yet, God gave them access to an empty tomb. They arrived anticipating to find a stone in front of the tomb, but what they found was the stone rolled away, and the tomb empty!
They departed excited!
What a great way to leave a cemetery? We don’t usually leave graveyards excited. We usually leave there in pain over the death of a family member or friend. Even, if it’s not someone that we were closely acquainted with…. excitement is not an emotion we usually feel after leaving the graveyard…yet, these ladies were excited. The source of their excitement was, of course, the resurrection of The Lord Jesus Christ. They left quickly and fled… and that they trembled and were amazed!