Christ is Risen – Do NOt Be Afraid!

Mark 16:1-8
But he said to them, “Do not be afraid; 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.” 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.

“And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

This is not the ending of the story that we usually tell. In fact, nothing about the stories from the Gospel of Mark is usual. The Gospel of Mark has never done things the way we expect. Of all the Gospels, Mark is the shortest and perhaps the strangest, expecting things of us, expecting that we will put the pieces together and be moved to a deeper discipleship. 

Mark’s Easter story is perhaps the strangest of all. In the 3 other gospels, we normally hear about Jesus appearing to the women and disciples at the empty tomb. Jesus speaks with Mary in the Gospel of John. He bring greetings to all the women in the Gospel of Matthew. In Luke, Jesus meets two of his disciples on the road of Emmaus. 

But in Mark there is none of that. And it makes us uncomfortable. And not just us today, but Christians for centuries have been so uncomfortable with Mark’s ending, that they added to it. Hundreds of years later, shorter and longer endings to the Gospel of Mark were added just to try and wrap things up. 

So what is it about the Gospel of Mark and his ending that doesn’t sit well with us?

“And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”


Easter isn’t suppose to be a story of failure. The women hear the good news, they are given clear instructions to tell people about Jesus being risen, and they tell no one. 

In fact, this is the story all the way through the Gospel of Mark. The disciples, the ones who are supposed to know and understand who Jesus is what he is about never do. And the people who do know are unreliable. It is unclean spirits and demons who recognize Jesus as God’s son. It is the blind man who never actually sees Jesus who knows he has been healed by the Messiah. All the way through the gospel of Mark, not a single reliable soul figures it out. 

Last Easter, as we gathered online for the first time, we toned down our celebration for the sake of our neighbour. And though the world seemed scary, and things so unusual and different, we held to the hope that things would “go back to normal” soon. 

And yet, a year later, here we are. And it can feel like there has been a failure along the way. Failure to do the things we needed to do as a society make things safe, or perhaps a failure to stand up for what many are claiming is our right to gather for worship. Or maybe we have failed our ancestors and failed our children by not being able to gather for the celebration of the resurrection that our forebears in faith have done for generations, that we hope our descendants in faith will continue to do for generations to come. 

So maybe Mark and his story of an Easter failure fits us and our circumstances  well this Easter. 

But here is the thing, Mark knows that we know that it didn’t end with the women being afraid. We all know the story of the resurrection. We are reading it in Mark’s gospel. We proclaim that Christ is risen from the dead every Sunday we worship, just as Christians all over the world have been doing so for 2000 years!

So Mark expects that we can figure out that things didn’t end with the women running from the tomb afraid… but Mark also expects that we see our part in the story too, in the command to go and tell the world of the resurrection. Though this news of the resurrection is scary, though the world that we are called to speak it to is scary, though our circumstances for preaching the gospel are less than ideal. We are called to be ones who are not afraid to speak. 

It is a big calling. 

Because it was only on Good Friday that we stood below the cross and we proclaimed that this instrument of torture and violence, of humiliation and death is God’s transformed tool of life. 

Because now today at the empty tomb with the women who are too afraid to say anything,  we are just as afraid as they were. Afraid to announce this news to world. Afraid of that no one will believe our incredible, unbelievable story.

But this Easter morning and Easter story reminds us something else more than our fear and failure. 

We are reminded that it is always in our fears and failures that Christ meets us. It is when we are too weak, too afraid, too focused on ourselves, when we are too much intent on our sin, on our selfishness, that Christ comes and meets us. It is when we feel alone and powerless, when things seem impossible for this story to get out there and be heard.

There is no Easter without sin and death, there is no resurrection without humanity’s greatest failure, without our trying to be God in God’s place.

And in the midst of our failures, big and small, the Risen Christ meets us. The Risen Christ reveals himself to us and brings us into the new reality of a world where sin and death are no longer the end. Yet still, our fear overcomes us and this new world that God is creating is too much for us. And like the women at the tomb we are too afraid to speak, too afraid to act, too afraid even look at how things are different. 

“Do not be afraid, you are are looking for Jesus for Nazareth, who was crucified. Has has been raised.”

Do not be afraid. 

Across the old and new testament, these words always precede good news. 

Do not be afraid. 

And even still the good news can be terrifying. 

We stand before an empty tomb today, on this day of the Resurrection. And even when everything is supposed to be perfect, and when death is finally defeated, and Christ is raised from the dead. We are reminded that we still fail. We are reminded that we are still imperfect, sinful and selfish people who are frozen in the face of God’s amazing work in our world. 

And we are also reminded again, that it is in our frozen failure that we are met by the Risen Christ. 

The Risen Christ who has overcome the cross. 

The Risen Christ who has conquered death. 

The Risen Christ who has entered in our lives, our joys and our sorrows and has made our life his own. 

The Risen Christ who has shown us a new reality, where death is no longer the end, where we are no longer defined by our failures, and where our sin no longer has control of us. 

We are met today by the The Risen Christ and we are shown that God’s love for us is alive and there is no place we can go to escape it, no place where God’s love cannot reach us, and no limits on God’s love to keep binding us to the Body of Christ, the family in faith entrusted with this good news.

Even when are afraid to speak a word to anyone,  even when it feels like there is no one to speak this good news to, the Risen Christ meets us with the words “Do not be afraid!”