When I am watching a movie, one of the most frustrating things that can happen is when you get to the end of the movie, and it doesn’t really end. It just sets itself up for a sequel.
Lord of the Rings – The two towers. The Matrix reloaded Star Wars, the Empire Strikes back (though it is a bad movie for lots of reasons) If you are going to invest a couple of hours of your life in a movie the least they can do is finish the movie then and there.
But maybe the producers of the movie have all taken their cue from Mark’s gospel People invest time in reading it. As a congregation here, we’ve invested the last 6 weeks, just on 4 chapters And we get to the end and we get …. just about nothing. Not only is there no body, there is no Jesus. In Matthew Luke and John, you have the empty tomb, but at least the gospel writers include a story of Jesus being there to prove it’s true. Not Mark.
And in Matthew Luke and John the disciples head off telling others what has happened Not in Mark. The women fled, for terror and amazement had seized them and they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”
And there the story of Jesus’ resurrection stops, and no one ever found out about it.
Mark tells us of the life of Jesus, of the teachings of Jesus, of the revolutionary ways of Jesus in proclaiming the Kingdom of God. And Mark by the end of the crucifixion story has dramatically slammed the story shut.
The occupying forces, the Kingdom of Caesar kill him. The authorities lay him in a tomb and then seal it shut
And then we get the weird twist of the final chapter in Mark The news greeting the women is that the attempts to seal the tomb shut haven’t worked The body is not where the authorities have put it And the death that the Kingdom of Caesar brought about has been reversed. Even in the resurrection story, Mark’s gospel continues the confrontation with authority.
But still, the women said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. Throughout Mark, the disciples have been spoken about as ‘fearful’ And in every case they have been blockages to the way of God And if fear wins out here, the story does indeed stop. No one tells anyone. Fear wins. Fold the cloths up, put them back in the tomb, and roll the stone back.
But the very fact that we are here today means that we cant take the story from Mark as being literally true. Someone told someone. Or else we never found out.
So someone somewhere overcame the fear. Mark doesn’t tell us who. But someone broke the fear cycle. Someone chose not to feed the fears. Go back to Galilee and you will meet him there, the women are told
And through this story, which is actually for us the readers, the message is the same Go back to Galilee and you will meet him there
The first 10 chapters of Mark are set in Galilee. And that’s where we have to go again after this weird resurrection story.
In Galilee, Jesus lets people know that the Kingdom of God is right here. In Galilee, Jesus heals people of conditions that were robbing them of life In Galilee, Jesus restores people to their community after they had been cast out In Galilee, Jesus calls someone to leave behind a life based on wealth and exploitation In Galilee, Jesus enables people to see and people to hear Go back to Galilee and you will meet him there.
There is a novel by Michael Ende called “The Never Ending Story” It was turned into a movie as well in the 1980s. In the story, the main character Bastian reads about the world of “Fantastica” But as he reads somehow the characters ask for his help in their crisis The boundary between the book and the reader is broken and Bastian is terrified. And Bastian realises that the world of the book is doomed unless he takes part in it. Bastian’s fear about what is going on is powerful. But the story somehow re-boots and Bastian finds himself being named in the text. And it is only as he fully engages in the story – himself as a character and not a reader – that the issues of Fantastica are resolved, and Bastian becomes a new person
I think Michael Ende has studied the gospel of Mark. Mark puts the future of the story that we are reading in the hands of the readers. It is not a story about a dead past, but a living present And like Bastian, we are left with the options of being frozen by fear, or jumping in to the story ourselves.
Put yourself in the story. Will you say nothing to anyone because you are afraid? Or where will you find the one who was crucified? You will find him back in Galilee: In the promotion of the Kingdom of God above the Kingdom of Caesar in the healing of conditions that rob people of life in the restoration to community for people who have been cast out and excluded
In the leaving behind of wealth and exploitation of other people in actions which create the ability for people to see and hear how it is that God’s ways are seen
Easter – especially through the gospel of Mark – asks that we not be frozen by fear but instead be people who have seen and heard that there is a better way and it is a way that is worth being completely passionate about justice.