When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?" (Mark 16:1-3 NIV).
Why were their ears and hearts so dull?
Why could they not hear ... where was their trust ... why couldn't they anticipate ... where was their hope?
Why couldn't they see that the cross was not the end?
Jesus had told them this was coming all of it, the rejection, the cross, the humiliation, and the resurrection. Jesus told them four times.
- He told them plainly, but they didn't want to hear it (Mark 8:31-33).
- The Lord told them, but they couldn't understand and were afraid to ask him about it (Mark 9:30-32).
- The Son of God told them, but they were astonished and fearful, quarreling among themselves about who was most important (Mark 10:32-35).
- And Jesus, the Son of Man, told them a fourth time, and tied his death to his purpose in coming to serve and give his life as a ransom for many people (Mark 10:45).
Yet none of Jesus' words had stuck in their hearts. They went in one ear and out the other. They had no hope of his resurrection when he died. There was no anticipation of seeing him alive again. There was no expectation that things would change.
Even the women, so faithful through everything when the men abandoned the Lord, came to the tomb without any glimmer that they would meet Jesus. They came with spices to anoint Jesus' body and they were worried about someone to roll away the stone from the mouth of the tomb. Their hopes were shattered, battered, bloodied, and dead enclosed in the tomb where they thought the lifeless body of their crucified Lord lay. Their hearts were as cold and as numb as the stone walls they thought surrounded their dead friend and master.
Isn't this where we often find ourselves? Heartsick? Broken? Crushed? Weary? Confused? Forgetful? Grieving? We can't seem to muster hope or courage or faith because life feels so overwhelming and our challenges feel so overwhelming and impossible.
But this is why Sunday this Sunday long ago and every Sunday since is so important! Sunday, the "first day of the week" as Mark describes it in his gospel, is the day Jesus arose. Jesus triumphed on Sunday, victorious over death to the great surprise of everyone, especially those who knew him best.
Sunday isn't just the first day of the week, it is the reminder that hope has been reborn, death has been defeated, sin has lost its power, and the fear of death has been cast down.
So let's rejoice: the Lord's Day is here. Our Savior reigns. The morning of hope has dawned. It is resurrection day and everything is changed ... for good ... for us ... forever!
Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57).