Colossians 1:9-14 & Mark 16:1-8
“Our Questions…God’s Easter Answer”

“Our Questions…God’s Easter Answer”

Colossians 1:9-14 & Mark 16:1-8 ~ Rev. G. Scott Turnbrook ~ Northwood United ~ March 31, 2024


A child engages with you preparing to tell a joke: “Knock knock” she begins…”who’s there”…you reply. “Easter”. “Easter who?”. And then comes this awkward moment; she scratches her head; she looks back puzzled; she can’t remember the punchline. The conversation stops right there in the middle without any resolution. Easter who?  


Unresolved…unfinished. This is the way Mark, the original gospel writer finishes the original Easter story. Unresolved…unfinished…Easter who? Now, chronologically, Mark is understood to be the first of the four evangelists to tell the Easter story. Mark begins with the women. A quick burial occurred on Friday and the body is placed in the tomb. Saturday’s sabbath forbid anyone to come near. And at the first light of Sunday, the Easter story commences with the women coming to the tomb to properly prepare Jesus’ body for burial. A strange figure, “a young man” ~ likely an angel / a messenger of God gives them a message. And the women leave the tomb. Actually, they don’t just leave the tomb, they depart in terror. The text says: “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.” Knock knock…who’s there…Easter. And what we have before us is an unresolved story! Easter who?


To read this story in the Greek is even more disjointed. The text ends with the Greek word “gar” which we translate as the English preposition “for”. And for generations scholars have pondered what to do with Mark’s ending of the Easter story. Scholars note how later manuscripts of Mark add what we call the “longer ending in Mark”. Perhaps your Bible even denotes the two: our text is entitled “the shorter ending of Mark” and the concluding verses following are entitled “The longer ending”. To read through verse 9 to the end you hear what scribes later finished the story as. We read of: Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene; his appearance to the two disciples; his commissioning; and his ascension. All of these parts of the story are later insertions by the faithful (perhaps like each of us) who do not like to leave things unfinished. Preferring things to be wrapped up in a properly resolved story.


Yet, Mark, in the original version tells the Easter story and leaves it unfinished. Why? Perhaps, I would like to suggest, it is left unfinished in order to be completed by the listener…Easter if left unfinished in order to be completed by you! And, if this is the case, we have a problem. We have a problem because we like things neat and tidy…properly resolved…and well understood, don’t we? There are tidy other options. If we don’t like the way Mark tells the Easter story, we could jump to the other gospels who make it tidier. We could look at Paul’s telling of the story; however, with this year’s focus on Mark, we face the challenge of completing Jesus’ Easter story with ours. Knock knock…who’s there…Easter…Easter who?


Easter who…indeed! Mark’s Easter has a character with no name called “the young man”. Scholars generally agree that the young man is angelic: he offers a message from God. And, as we hear this message to the two Marys and Salome, perhaps that message might also extend to our questioning. To the confused women looking for Jesus’ body, the angel says: ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ 


Jesus is going ahead to Galilee. And there you will see him, just as he told you. I wonder if this is a pivotal passage that leads us towards the conclusion of the Easter story? I wonder if the angel’s guidance to ‘go to Galilee where you will find him’ allows Mark’s unfinished Easter to be resolved in yours? Jesus is going ahead to Galilee…and there you will see him. I wonder if the task of the faithful follower is to go into the Galilees of our lives and look and see him there? So, what does that mean? To look in Galilee for Jesus? If you ever have toured the Holy Land, a central place you visit…of course…is Galilee. Galilee was the place where Jesus performed much of his ministry. Galilee was the place where so many of the biblical stories of Jesus occurred. Galilee was where Jesus healed, where he taught, where loved, where he challenged ways of oppression. Galilee was where the Way of Jesus was expressed!  


A neat and tidy resolution to the Easter story would have been to find Jesus alive on Sunday morning….sitting in the tomb, praying or simply just waiting with a smile as the women arrived. But that is not how the story resolves. The listener is left uncertain; the women leave the tomb in “terror and amazement” and the angel tells us to go to Galilee where Jesus has gone ahead, just as he told them. We now must resolve the Easter story in the questions and living of our story.


So, where is Galilee? Well, it’s just under 11,000 kilometers East of here. The better part of a 24-hour day with flights and transfers. But there is a Galilee much closer than that. A Galilee where you will find the Risen Christ. “He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” Galilee is located wherever Jesus’ Way offers the amazing gift and promise of new life. On Tuesday a group from Northwood will team with others from Cloverdale United Church and we will serve up a nourishing meal at the Cloverdale Community Kitchen. Quite amazing really…reclaimed food that grocers are ready to dispose of. Cooked and blessed and fed…a feast for all who gather. Bev tells me that perogies and bacon are on the menu…let’s go to Galilee! Meals like this, in fact, are served up in kitchens across the world…as God’s people roll up their sleeves to love and bless others….let’s go to Galilee! We will journey towards Galilee as we prayerfully consider our vote in the upcoming Provincial election. When we consider justice issues for the environment, the Indigenous community, the poor, and the many oppressed who have their voices silenced…let’s go to Galilee. Many of us have been to Galilee when we attend hospice and sit with loved ones in their final days and know in our hearts that our loved one will be at peace…let’s go to Galilee. We will journey towards Galilee when we go to our homes. When we are mindful in how our lives touch our family, and the surrounding community…let’s go to Galilee! We go to Galilee when we go to our workplace and express integrity and compassion…let’s go to Galilee! You see, going to Galilee allows our troubling questions in the world to be met with God’s Easter answer. When we go to Galilee, we see the Easter story being resolved in ours.


Knock knock…who’s there…Easter…Easter who?...Easter YOU!