Go and Tell
In Mark 9, Peter, James, and John accompany Jesus up a high mountain. On this mountain, they witness Jesus’ Transfiguration; he became dazzlingly white, and they see Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah, who also appear. They hear a voice say, “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!” They witness all of this, and just as soon as it began, it ends as everything returns to normal. Jesus begins to lead them back down the mountain, but not before stopping to warn them not to tell anyone about what they have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead. As they journey back down the mountain, the disciples have one question: What on earth could Jesus mean when he says, “raised from the dead”?
Throughout the Gospels, it’s easy to want to pass judgment on the disciples. I honestly believe that if we were to place ourselves in their position, we likely would have made many of the same mistakes and misunderstood many of the same teachings they did. But it’s easier to deny our own naiveté when we read the stories of the disciples than it is to admit if we were in their place, we likely would not have any idea what was going on, either.
In this Easter Season, I think we can relate to the disciples now more than ever; particularly in the story we find in Mark 9.
The journey toward Easter Sunday begins on Ash Wednesday. We are reminded that we are dust, and to dust we shall return; we may have the opportunity to participate in different stations at an Ash Wednesday church service, and we begin the sacrificial journey through the Lenten Season. We are encouraged during this season to take the time to fast and pray, and to reflect on the life and sacrifice of Christ.
When Holy Week comes around, we have become fairly accustomed to solemnity. We get a little bit of a break on Palm Sunday when we get to wave palm leaves and shout, “Hosanna in the highest!” On Maundy Thursday, we remember the last meal Jesus shared with his disciples, the desperation of his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the kiss that bestowed betrayal upon Jesus. We recognize the seeming victory of darkness on Good Friday as we silently, somberly remember the shadow of the Cross.
But we go through all of these things each year knowing something the disciples did not: Sunday is coming.
We participate in the remembrance of Christ’s life and death with a redemptive hope that cannot possibly be destroyed because we already know the truth. We know as we leave the service in silence on Good Friday that there is reason to hope because come Sunday morning, we will sing “Hallelujah” and rejoice in the presence of the Risen Lord. We know the story of the Resurrection; and we know the joy that awaits us only days away.
But do we really know? Do we really understand? When we respond, “He is risen indeed!”, do we have any idea what we are actually proclaiming? Or, like the disciples, do we wander back down the mountain (after having witnessed an indescribable event) asking what was meant by the words, “raised from the dead”?
From this end of the story, we have nothing to fear. From this end of the story, we do not have to worry about the devastating impact from the words on the page saying Jesus breathed his last. From this end of the story, we are able to celebrate the Resurrection every Sunday - not only during Easter.
Yet, all too often, it seems that we only want to proclaim the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. The rest of the time, we seem to want to wander back down the mountain, asking aloud what Jesus’ words possibly could have meant. We seem to want to follow the command Jesus gave to the disciples and not say anything about who he really is. We seem to want to whisper amongst ourselves about the extraordinary things that we have witnessed.
The command Jesus gave to his disciples, however, was only intended to last until after the Son of Man had been raised from the dead. There is only a command to remain silent before the Resurrection; once the Resurrection takes place, the command shifts from “keep this to yourself” to “go and tell”. The time to debate what “raised from the dead” means has passed; now is the time to go and tell the good news that Christ is indeed risen from the grave! We tell this through words and actions. Because if you truly believe Christ defeated death itself, then there ought to be something different about the way that you live your life. We cannot live our day-to-day lives as the disciples did between Friday and Sunday - we are called to live as if every day is Easter Sunday. We are called to live as if every time we hear the words, “He is Risen”, it is like we are hearing them for the first time. Like the disciples, we are called to witness the incredible truth about who Jesus is, and to follow him as he leads us back down the mountain into the world so we may participate with him in his ministry. But unlike the disciples, we are not called to keep this information to ourselves.
So, when the Easter Season is over this year, may we be so bold as to proudly proclaim the truth about the Resurrection in our daily lives. May we be so bold as to follow when Christ beckons us. May we participate in the goodness and grace of Christ to all we may encounter. Above all else, may we be faithful to the call to “go and tell” in any and every way possible the good news to which we have been witnesses.