AMAZEMENT Mark 16:1-8

Preached at the Easter Sunday services, St. John's Anglican Church, Portsmouth, Kingston, Ontario on April 23, 2000
by Robert Brow     (

"They went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them" (Mark 16:8).

Amazement is a necessary part of a firmly based Easter faith. First there is curiosity, then amazement, and that results in telling others which gives us the certainty that Jesus rose from the dead, and we also will be raised as he was.

There was a little girl watching her mother planting daffodils in the fall. "Please, can I have one of them ?" So her mother gave her one of the bulbs and she kept it in her room till the spring. "If you put it in this pot with earth around and water it, it will come out as a beautiful yellow flower." The little girl was filled with curiosity to see whether her flower would indeed come out. And when the daffodil appeared she was amazed. She told all her friends, "My bulb has resurrected as a yellow flower." And from that day she had faith in the resurrection of daffodil bulbs.

That summer she found a caterpillar. Her mother told her it would grow into a butterfly. So she put it on a branch with leaves from the tree and watched till till it disappeared into a cocoon. But again she watched with great curiosity, and to her amazement a beautiful butterfly unfolded its wings and flew away into the garden. She told her friends, "my caterpillar has resurrected as a yellow butterfly." And from that day she had faith in the resurrection of caterpillars.

Then her mother told her she was going to have a baby brother. With great curiosity the little girl felt the baby kicking in her mother's womb. "When is he coming?" The mother had the delivery at home, and when the baby appeared the little girl was amazed, and told all her friends, "My baby brother has resurrected from my mother's womb." And from that day she had faith in life after birth.

In each of the three cases the little girl's curiosity resulted in her amazement, and when she told her friends, it resulted in her certainty of resurrection. Bu if she hadn't been curious about what was going to happen, the event would have passed without her noticing it. And if she had kept the amazement to herself without telling other, she would not have had the certain faith in the resurrection for crinkly old bulbs, caterpillars, or babies kicking in the womb.

Now you can see that the three women in our Gospel got up very early on the first Easter morning to see what had happened. "Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb" (Mark 18:8). They could have come later in the day to put spices on the body of Jesus according to Jewish custom. But because they were so curious they came very early to see what had happened, and they found the empty tomb and heard the angel's explanation "You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth. He has been raised; he is not here. Look there is the place they laid him" (Mark 16:6).

At first they were so shocked that "they said nothing to anyone" (Mark 16:8) but soon they told the apostles and the news spread all over the city. It was their amazement followed by telling others that resulted in their certain faith that Jesus had risen from the dead, and their own resurrection was assured. This was the faith that turned the world upside down.

But notice the apostles were still fast asleep that first Easter morning. They had been told three times that "the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again" (Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:37). They had heard the resurrection would take place, but they did not have the curiosity to go and see what would happen. It was only because of the women's curiosity and amazement, that in time the apostles also became "witnesses of the resurrection" (Acts 1:22). And when they told others, they became certain, like the little girl, of their resurrection faith.

This Easter many have sent Easter greeting cards but with no real assurance of either Jesus' rising from the dead or their own resurrection. They are never amazed because they were never curious enough to see. They need to have the curiosity of that little girl. Our four Gospels give eye-witness give accounts of the resurrection from various point of view. They are quite short and easy to read. May I suggest you read them with curiosity until you grasp every detail and are filled with amazement.

But amazement kept hidden in one's heart does not change us till we tell someone. As Paul explained, "if you tell others that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is put right, and one confesses with the mouth and so has the assurance of salvation" (Roman 10:9-10 paraphrased). So if you want the certainty of resurrection, I suggest you tell someone. "I know Jesus rose from the dead, and I am certain of my own resurrection." Be ready to say that when someone asks about life after death, and be sure to say that to your family as you face your own death.

As Paul said, without the certainty of the resurrection our faith has no foundation. "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then the Messiah has not been raised; and if the Messiah has not been raised, the our proclamation has been in vain and you faith is vain. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died" (1 Corinthians 15:13, 20).

That is why Christians greet each other on this Easter day with : "The Lord is risen" and the reply is "The Lord is risen indeed. Hallelujah."

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