An Unbelievable Announcement

1 April 2018 – Easter Sunday: The Resurrection of Our Lord

Well, wouldn't you be afraid? Give these women some credit. They are not fickle feminine wimps seeing a mouse or spider. They have been told by a strange young man that the Jesus they came to anoint after his death, isn't there. And, he makes clear, it is not that his body has been stolen: it has been resurrected—up from the dead—living again.

. . . Just to whom do you think you could go and tell something like that? You might find out who your friends are—the ones who would at least listen politely, try not to jump to conclusions about your sanity too soon….

. . .There is no shout of victory, only astonished silence; no leap for joy, only running in fear. –– Sara Webb Phillips

Mark 16:1-8

Mark 16:1–8 is the original conclusion of Mark's gospel. The women arrive at the tomb at dawn on the morning following the Sabbath. Prepared to anoint the body—left unprepared because it was buried in haste before the arrival of the Sabbath—they find an empty tomb. Empty linens and an enigmatic young man greet them at the tomb. Some lectionaries omit the most important verse: “They told no one for they were afraid.” Mark is utterly ambiguous!

If the women told no one, and if the women ran away in fear—perhaps the most credible factoid in Mark's account—then how could the gospel ever come to be written? How is it the narrator of Mark himself has come to know about this event? More disturbing, are sealed lips, silent running and fearful flight the naturally expectable responses of disciples who encounter the results of Jesus’ resurrection? –– Jeffrey VanderWilt

Acts 10:34-43

Peter's sermon takes place in the home of Cornelius the centurion, a resident of Caesarea. The sermon will become the occasion of the “Pentecost of the gentiles,” one of the first manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit among non-Jews. At the conclusion of the sermon, Luke reports, the gentiles will begin speaking in tongues, extolling God. Peter will baptize them immediately.

The sermon itself, the occasion of this startling breakthrough, rehearses a rudimentary theology of atonement or, even, a summary of the paschal mystery. Jesus is one anointed by God with the Holy Spirit. He was put to death, but “God raised him on the third day.” The theme of universal forgiveness—“everyone who believes in him”—completes the sermon where it began: “God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

The nature of the ministry of Christ and his exaltation entails the universality of its accessibility to all. –– Jeffrey VanderWilt

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Paul testifies to the resurrection and to Jesus’ bodily appearances. Paul claims that Jesus had appeared also, lastly, to himself. Introducing this teaching, Paul again uses the term paradosis as he had in relation to the Lord's Supper. The Gospel no less than the sacrament is both received and handed on. –– Jeffrey VanderWilt

Sara Webb Phillips is a United Methodist minister serving North Springs UMC in Sandy Springs, Georgia.

Jeffery VanderWilt, author of Communion with Non-Catholic Christians (Collegville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2003) teaches at Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Southern California.

Homily Service 39, no. 5 (2006): 30-45.

David Turnbloom