“Joyous Trembling”

“Joyous Trembling” – Mark 16:1-8

The Resurrection of Our Lord (B)  4/1/18

Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

“Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

It would be safe to say that we have all had close encounters that left us more than a little shaken… trembling even. And this realizing what could have been and by all indications, should have been. Where we are somewhat bewildered and ask ourselves, “Did that just happen?”

What a whirlwind it must have been for Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome who St. Mark speaks about in this Easter text.

All that happened… all that took place the past week from the day Christ entered Jerusalem on a donkey. Especially what took place three days ago as they watched their bloodied and beaten Lord crucified. As they took it all in.

  • Him hanging there in agony hour after hour.
  • The taunts and jeers of the Jews, the Roman soldiers and even those crucified with Him on either side.
  • The darkness that covered the land like a thick funeral pall beginning at the noon hour and continuing until He breathed His last.

Until Jesus, their Jesus, gave up His spirit and the earth shook, and the rocks split… tombs also were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.

  • As they watched their Lord’s lifeless body taken down from the cross and wrapped in a linen cloth.
  • And then as they went and watched where He was laid in a tomb… and the large stone that was rolled into place.

To take all of this in and then to experience what happened early that morning, this morning, the third morning. Seeing the large stone rolled away… seeing the young man all dressed in white… there sitting in the tomb… a tomb that was otherwise now empty.

And then to hear the angelic words, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

St. Mark tells us the women then left the tomb, fled the tomb… τρόμος καὶ ἔκστασις … that is trembling and astonished. And who wouldn’t be?

τρόμος from which we get the English word “traumatic.” ἔκστασις from which we get the word “ecstasy.” Both best translated here as trembling and being astonished.

Trembling at what took place. Trembling that still takes place among God’s people… the faithful… here on earth.

Even in the full understanding of all that Christ did on the cross? With all our sins now blotted out and Satan’s power crushed… the Serpents head crushed?

Even in the full understanding and the glorious reality that Jesus lives and that death has been conquered?

There is trembling?  For you? For me?

Yes, “healthy trembling” in understanding the oh-so close encounter we have all had with eternal death and what could have been… should have been… but is no longer and never can be.

Also “reverent trembling” in the full knowledge and appreciation that all this was affected… brought about… by the Lord God Almighty in the most wonderful, powerful and mightiest of ways. And that it was all for us… we poor miserable sinners.

Reverent trembling that still goes on as we behold the divine mysteries of God and partake of the same.

  • Reverent trembling as God breathes His all-powerful Word… His life-giving Word upon us as it is read in the divine service.
  • Reverent trembling every time Satan is cast out, exorcised at every baptism that takes place at that font.
  • Reverent trembling that takes place every time we take into our mouths a wafer of bread and a sip of wine at this communion rail fully realizing that it is Christ’s very Body and Blood, given and shed for us for the remission of all of our sins.

Healthy trembling… reverent trembling… and also, my friends, “joyous trembling” that continues on and on and on for God’s people.

And this every time we respond to the Good News “He is Risen.”

This every time you and I sing “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” and especially that seventh verse where we gladly proclaim,

“He lives and grants me daily breath; He lives, and I shall conquer death; He lives my mansion to prepare; He lives to bring me safely there.”

You know, when you think about it, it is really the joy… the reality of our joy and what all is behind it… that leaves us trembling… as tears of joy stream from our eyes in full realization that all of this is ours…

  • Victory is ours.
  • Jesus is ours… our ever-living Head… our Savior, Lord and King.

To God alone the glory… now… and forevermore! Amen.