I had a pretty awesome marathon weekend of ministry and preaching down here in LA. I was running all over the place (OK, so I drove everywhere), and at one point I was giving a talk on Scripture for a young adult group called Catholic Central, down in Camarillo. As Easter is quickly coming up on us, I thought I’d share some of what I shared that night with you too.
I don’t think we quite get how utterly terrifying Jesus’ resurrection was.
When Mark was writing his Gospel and telling about when Jesus defeated death, he originally finished it with this line: “Then they went out and fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and bewilderment. They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Well, he might as well have finished with something like, “And they rolled a stone across the tomb…” Not exactly the cheeriness that we’re used to on Easter, now is it?
There are all kinds of reasons given for why Mark would have done this, but here is my favorite (at least I think this would be the coolest reason): Perhaps whoever was reading the Gospel to the earliest gatherings in the Church would read that line and then roll up the scroll and say, “And now let me tell you what happened when we walked away from that hole in the ground where we thought we’d find our best friend’s decaying body, our God, dead and buried, and we found him alive. Alive!”
And this Holy Week, it’s time we start doing the same.
Because, you see, we can read the Bible all we want (or we can not read it at all, but that’s not exactly what I’m going for here!). We can get to know all the obscure names of Palestinian cities and what happened to whomever, whenever. But unless we read the story to the finish, to the point where the tomb is empty and there is no hope, and then we set aside the book, and tell the rest of our story, it doesn’t matter how much Bible trivia we know. It doesn’t matter if we can quote chapter and verse, until we realize that the story is written on our hearts. That all the awful stuff happening in our life is no worse than an empty tomb where we thought our God was going to be. Until we read to the end and roll up the scroll and finish the story, the Bible is just another book on the shelf.
Any time we break open the Scriptures, we’re trying to find our place in the story, so we can finish the story. So we can tell others what we found in the empty tomb, and then what we found when we finally left it behind. So we can give to others what we’ve gotten out of it. So we can roll up the scroll and say, this is what God has done in my life since he came crashing into my life, totally not where I expected him to be.