Mar – 01 Apr 2018, Christ Mountain Top
to Worship, Isaiah 26:6-9
delightful ending. An obvious surprise, to the characters in the story. We know
the Easter story, at least a little, so we can yawn and ho-hum our way through
the holiday if we want. For the women at the tomb, this was not the miracle
they were looking for. They weren’t looking for a miracle at all, let alone
resurrection. The experience they have is not so much a gift to celebrate but
an April Fool’s prank gone way too far. “So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and
amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were
afraid” (Mark 16:8). No wonder Paul describes the Christian message
foolishness of our proclamation” (1 Corinthians 1.21). Even the very
first believers were nowhere near ready for Easter.
endings of Mark: This abrupt ending is also a beautiful literary twist!
Throughout the gospel, Jesus performs miracle after miracle. After most of them
(there are exceptions), Jesus instructs people to tell no one. What do they do?
They tell everyone! Here, the first witnesses to resurrection are instructed to
tell the disciples – just the disciples. What do they do? They tell no one!
Now, we know they eventually began to speak. That’s why we have this story.
This literary twist, however, invites us to look deeper at what we are looking
of us seek in our religious quests is answers and miracles, or what the Apostle Paul
and signs. Instead, what the gospel offers is Jesus. Most of us –
even church going people –aren’t seeking Jesus. And we aren’t really interested
in resurrection, in the Easter story, because we are looking for miracles – the
kinds we have in mind. And Resurrection blows the mind.
“miracle” in the limited way we think of it. “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”
Resurrection is not about miracle, but about revolution. Revolution is not
about the miracles we tend to ask for, but about the Miracle that changes the
The Princess Bride, the hero, “the
man in black,” appears to have been killed by the six-fingered man. His
friends, still on a quest to save the girl and exact revenge, are looking for a
miracle. They go to Miracle Max and wife Valerie (Billy Crystal and Carol Kane) and discover that “the
man in black” is not dead, only “mostly dead” and there is a big difference.
Miracle Max prepares a giant chocolate covered pill, gives them a couple
pharmacological warnings – don’t go swimming for at least an hour – and sends
them off. His wife asks, “Do you think it will work?” “It would take a
leper comes to Jesus hoping to be made clean. “It would take a miracle.” Jesus
chooses to make him clean, he is freed from his leprosy and commanded, “See
that you say nothing to anyone” (Mark 1.40-45).
parents are begging Jesus to come heal her. “It would take a miracle.” Jesus
shows up, orders the mourners to leave the room, takes the girl’s hand and
says, “Little girl, get up.” She is returned to her parents in perfect health.
He tells her parents “that no one should know this” and asks them to get her
something to eat (Mark 5.41-43).
man with a speech impediment. “It would take a miracle.” Jesus took them aside
privately, opened his ears and released his tongue. “Then Jesus ordered them to
tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed
it” (Mark 7.32-36).
being born, heart rate disappears. “It would take a miracle.”
learning to drive, and surviving the experience. “It would take a miracle.”
Jesus’ own disciples are told to keep some things under their hats. Peter
proclaims Jesus as the Messiah and Jesus “ordered them not to tell anyone”
(Mark 8.29-32). Three of the disciples see Jesus gloriously transfigured, and
Jesus “ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the
Son of Man had risen from the dead” (Mark 9.2-10). The resurrection is the
moment when the movement can go public, not because it is the greatest miracle,
but because it gives us so much more than we ask for or imagine. The
resurrection is good news because it is precisely NOT what we look for, because
it is entirely discontinuous with a world that is hell-bent on destruction.
Ellul wrote that “if we let ourselves drift along the stream of history…, we shall have chosen the power of suicide,
which is at the heart of the world. … It is actually necessary that a genuine
revolution should take place.” That revolution is resurrection.
shootings and other mass casualty events
change, poisoned ground water, deforestation
my own personal baggage, with which I have become far too comfortable, despite
the damage it does
when you say it like that, it is actually necessary for a genuine revolution to
is about revolution. Resurrection is not just about life after death. It is
about life that triumphs over death. Resurrection is not just about love
greater than hate. Resurrection is about love that takes everything that hate
can throw at it and only stands up taller.
The only evidence, in Mark’s gospel, is an empty tomb. The only testimony, “He
has been raised; he is not here” is the words of a nameless young man, an angel
perhaps, but in appearance at that moment, a nobody. And the invitation to this
secret revolution is an invitation to an insurgency.
of my father-in-law. Before his death, he offered this word of personal
commendation to God: “I am going to LOVE.” He was embracing Resurrection, not
abandoning himself to death. This insurgency does not promise the miracles we
ask for, but it does offer to change the world. This insurgency does not
operate with violence but with Love. And love has won. It may be the most
foolish thing we can do. But we’ve tried everything else that is sensible and
look where it’s gotten us.
Join the insurgency. You’ve got no idea what you’re in for, and neither do I,
but it is totally worth it.
Ellul, The Presence of the Kingdom, p