Encounter: The Empty Tomb

A Monologue Sermon from the Perspective of Mary
HOPE Point @Wesley Memorial UMC
April 16, 2017
Easter Sunday

Mark 16: 1-8 (CEB)
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they could go and anoint Jesus’ dead body. 2Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb. 3They were saying to each other, “Who’s going to roll the stone away from the entrance for us?” 4When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. (And it was a very large stone!) 5Going into the tomb, they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right side; and they were startled. 6But he said to them, “Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised. He isn’t here. Look, here’s the place where they laid him. 7Go, tell his disciples, especially Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you. 8Overcome with terror and dread, they fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

Salome! Mary! Please, slow down! Please, I can’t keep up with you, not this early in the morning. Besides, it’s so cold, and I’m tired. And when we get there, we’re going to have to move that big stone. And that’s a really big stone! How are we going to do that if you wear yourselves out getting there? We’ll probably have to find someone to help us. Of course, at this hour, who would be around? Just slow down, please! What’s your hurry, anyway? He’s not going anywhere!

Wait! What? You say the stone is rolled away, well how did that happen? Let me see! Are you sure this is the right tomb? Maybe it’s this one…no, nevermind, that’s too big. Or over here? No, that’s not it either! This is the right one, but how did that stone get rolled away? And where’s Jesus? How could this be? Find the gardener, perhaps they have moved his body. We need to figure out where they have put him. Surely this isn’t the work of grave robbers! This is only the third day. And it’s not like he had anything with him; just his grave clothes. We haven’t even had time to prepare his body! Why would anyone do something like this?!? (Sits down, distressed.)

Oh! What are we going to do? This is terrible! We have to tell the disciples. But what are we going to say to them? They are going to be so disappointed! What if they blame it on us? What if they think we did something with Jesus’ body? They are going to be so angry. This is just awful! Maybe we should just leave. We don’t have to say anything to anybody. It’s early, no one would expect us to be here this early. They’ll never know. Then, at least, we won’t get blamed for whatever has happened here. He’s dead anyway, so what difference does it make? Maybe we can just roll this stone back into place and no one will ever know the difference. That will be easier anyway. We can just get back to normal, life as it was before he started preaching and stirring things up. What a relief! I was getting scared thinking of what it would be like to go on without him. I sure don’t want to be put on trial and mocked and beaten and crucified the way he was. This will be easier. (Leaving.) Let’s just put the stone back, head home, and pretend like none of this ever happened. We don’t have to say anything to anybody.

Whoa! What? I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there! How long have you been here? Are you the gardener? Well, who are you? Yes, yes, we are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified! Do you know what has happened to him? We are so worried. We just came to prepare his body and anoint him, but we can’t seem to find him. Do you know where he is? Have they moved Jesus somewhere? Please, tell me where we can find Jesus’ body!

I’m sorry, did I hear you correctly? You said he has been raised? (Returns to seat.) Raised. What exactly do you mean? Raised. Raised as in, you’ve moved his body to the tomb up on the hill? Well, that’s awfully kind of you, sir, but really we can’t afford…What? You want us to go and tell Peter and the other disciples? Well, what exactly do we tell them? I don’t understand what you’re saying to us! I mean, Jesus was dead two days ago, we laid him here after he was crucified. I don’t understand what exactly you want me to tell the disciples!

So, let me make sure I’ve got this right. We need to go and “tell the disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of us into Galilee. We will see him there, just as he told us.” Just as he told us. But what did he tell us? I don’t remember him saying anything about meeting us in Galilee. What was it he said? Sir? Sir? Where did you go? Oh….Jesus said so many things to us. He has been raised…just as he told us. I can’t possibly think of what that man was referring to. Raised. Just as he told us. Just as he told us…he is raised. He is raised! Oh! Raised! Just like he said all along! It’s true! He’s alive! Just as he told us!

It all started when Jesus was baptized. He came up out of the water, and that voice from heaven said, “This is my son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” Why was it so hard to understand what that meant? Jesus taught us over and over again. He kept telling us he was with us for only a short time and then he would go to the One who sent him. It was just as he said; such a short time. He told us that the Son of Man must be lifted up. But I didn’t really believe he was talking about himself. I didn’t think he was actually going to die, and now he’s gone for good. Even though he said, “I am going away and I am coming back to you.” Why isn’t he here now?

“He was raised, just as he said.” I wish that man had told me more. What did he mean? What did Jesus say? I remember so well that day he told the people that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.” That was really beautiful. But Christ really did die, so how could he have eternal life now? Of course, he told us the Temple would be destroyed and then raised again in three days. But that’s the Temple, and Jesus isn’t the Temple, besides, the Temple hasn’t even been destroyed. Of course, just a few weeks ago, he told us that we would be “going up to Jerusalem and that the Son of Man would be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They would condemn him to death and turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified.” That’s exactly as it happened. So if he knew that was going to happen, then he must’ve been right about all the other things as well!

“He was raised. Just as he said!” He said so many times and he was going to return to the one who sent him. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house there are many rooms” and that he is “going there to prepare a place for us.” Could that be where he is now? Could he have really gone to be with the Father? It actually kind of makes sense. I mean he did say that he is “the way, the truth and the life. [And] no one comes to the Father except through [him].” He must be going to the Father. I didn’t think it was possible, but where else could he be? When we thought Lazarus was gone, Jesus told my friend Martha that he is “the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in [him] will live, even though they die.” Resurrection. Life. Live, even though they die. Just as he said. Even though Christ died, he lives. He is the resurrection. He is the life. Just as he said.

It really is just as he said! It is just as he was telling us all along. He is raised! He is alive! Christ was dead and now he lives again! I didn’t think it was possible. I didn’t really believe that all he told us was true, but now I can see that it was. God really does love us! Christ loves us so much that he died so that he could defeat death, so that we can have new life in him! He’s alive! He’s not here because he has been raised! Just as he said!

But if those things are true, then all the other things Jesus told us are true too! We didn’t believe it because it was too scary. He told us that whoever serves him must follow him. If he really is alive, then we do have to follow him. We can’t just pretend like this didn’t happen because he is still busy, he’s making a place for us. Oh my goodness, this is so overwhelming. How can we do what he did? He was such a great man; he was the Son of God! And we are just people. I don’t really think I can forgive those people who were so awful to me. I know Christ forgave them, but I just don’t know if I can do it. Much less, to love them! He told us to love our enemies! Love our enemies, that’s unthinkable! And to turn the other cheek! How on earth?!?

Do you remember that day that James and John were arguing about who would sit at Jesus’ right and left in his glory? Ha, man. Jesus’ face got so red. But he stayed calm and he asked them if they could drink the cup he was going to drink. And they said they could! I don’t think they realized what they were saying. Jesus died! And now he’s raised and we have to drink the same cup. He told us that if he was persecuted, we would be persecuted too! I don’t know how I can withstand it. He said, “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.” I don’t know if I can go all the way to the cross like Jesus did. It was such a horrible death, and it was wrong, they didn’t understand who he really was. I don’t want that to happen to me. We’ve got to figure out what to do! The thought of following Jesus is so scary, but he told us that “the one who endures to the end will be saved.” And he said that “in this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world!” It seems that Jesus really has overcome the world. He conquered death! If Jesus has been raised from the dead! Then that must mean if I follow him, I will live too!

We have to do this! We have to follow Jesus. He has been raised just like he said. And all those things he told us to do, we have to do them because he really meant that too. We have to tell the disciples! We have to let them know that Jesus has been raised, just as he said. We have to get to work. We have to let the people know that Jesus really is the living Messiah. I don’t know what words to say, but we have to say something. We have to tell the people!

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