Mary’s Sermon was Full of Grace

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Mark's gospel is full of delightful idiosyncrasies. It was written before the other three gospels, and it is in some ways a simpler account of the life of Jesus. Some of Mark's stories lack the rich detail of Matthew and Luke. But on occasion, Mark gives us small, unusual details which are not in the other gospels. Mark is the only gospel that tells the story of the time it took Jesus a couple of tries before he healed a blind man. On his first try the man could see, but people looked like trees walking. The story reads like a modern day visit to an optometrist.

"Is that better or worse? How about that?"

Mark is also the only evangelist to tell the story of the young man who fled naked into the darknesswhen Jesus was arrested. Matthew and Luke, perhaps more seasoned writers, may have felt that such a detail was not important to the story.

I have found that if you pay attention to Mark's earthy details, you often find bits of grace in the stories that generally go unnoticed. Such is the case with Mark's account of the resurrection of Jesus. Mark's story of the women coming to the empty tomb contains a small detail - unique to Mark - that is so full of grace that it causes me to weep when I think of it. The detail can be found in the instructions from the young man they find at the tomb. He says to them:

"He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that his is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him."

"Go tell his disciples and Peter."

That's an interesting thing to say. Why add "and Peter" to that statement? Surely Peter is a disciple, so why mention him specifically? This is just a guess, but I think the answer lies in Peter's behavior leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. You may recall that Peter made a bold statement to Jesus that he would never desert him. Jesus responded by predicting that Peter would, in fact, deny him three times. Later that night, Peter indeed denied that he knew Jesus. In Luke's account we are told that Jesus heard his denial, and the two even made eye contact.

No one knows what it was like for Peter in the days after the death of Jesus, knowing that Jesus' last memory of him was this denial. The fact that all the gospels tell the story of his denial is a testimony to Peter's humility. The disciples are the ones who told the stories of Jesus that eventually were compiled into the gospels. They did not cover up accounts of their own weakness.

I think the heavenly messenger knew that Peter wasn't sure if he should be counted as a disciple after his public denial of Christ. If the women had told them, "He said tell his disciples to meet him in Galilee," Peter might have been filled with fear and doubt. Should he even go to Galilee? Would Jesus still accept him as a disciple?

It was for Peter's sake - I believe - that he was specifically included. The resurrection meant that their sins were forgiven. Yes, even Peter's sins. The first Christian sermon did not have much detail. You won't find much doctrine in it. But it was absolutely full of grace.

And I think if Judas hadn't hung himself from grief and remorse, the young man at the tomb might have said, "Tell the disciples, and Peter and Judas, to meet him in Galilee."

This Sunday morning, when you show up at church, I pray that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ fills your heart. It is an important part of Christianity to feel deeply our guilt and sin. Some Sundays you should feel that guilt. But on Easter Sunday, let the grace of Christ fill you with joy. We are all forgiven. We are all disciples of Christ. We are all welcome.

Have a blessed Easter.