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Back To Galilee

“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?” but when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. see the place where they laid him. But go tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.“ Mark 16:1-8 (NIV)

At the end of school last year, I had the opportunity to take a New Testament Class. That quarter, the professor decided that we would focus on the gospel of Mark. For those that met me this past summer, you already know that I’ve been obsessed with this passage found in the gospel of Mark; I have been using it as a part of my sermons and short messages all summer.

The gospel of Mark is a very interesting gospel! To put things into context, there are a few things that need to be mentioned. Scholars say that the gospel of Mark is considered to be the first gospel written, probably written around the time the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed (70 AD). During this time, the gospel of Mark (as well as the other books of the New Testament) would have most likely been something you heard, not read. Back in biblical times, people would gather around to listen to these gospels being told by a ‘gospel teller’ (in this case, the gospel of Mark). These ‘gospel tellers’ would re-create the gospels with intricate details and expressions that could only be felt by those present. They would be engaged and the majority (if not all) of the audience would actually feel like they’re part of the story. Have you ever watched a movie that was so good, that you felt like you could really relate and it almost felt like you actually knew the characters? This is what it would have been like for anyone listening to the gospel of Mark.

With this in mind, if we read through the gospel of Mark, we find a lot of moments and accounts of the disciples not understanding Jesus. Jesus mentions that He’s going to die, but the disciples change the topic; ignore what Jesus has to say and just simply don’t get it. If you were listening to the gospel, you would be frustrated. You would probably be thinking, “Geez, even I understand… what’s wrong with these disciples?”

It’s kind of like watching a documentary on global warming or animal/human rights. For example, if you were watching a documentary on global warming you would probably see a scene with a poor, helpless baby polar bear, drifting on a tiny chunk of ice in the Artic Ocean. And in the next scene, you might see the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and the effects that coral bleaching has done to such a beautiful reef. In that documentary, you might see a penguin covered in oil due to a massive oil spill that has devastated all wildlife. You might even see a scene with a poor turtle that has been injured because of all the plastic thrown away into the oceans. At the end of the documentary you might see the screen go black, with the words or narration saying, “Only you can stop global warming.”

Many, if not a majority, of people would feel compelled after watching such a heart wrecking documentary to take action and do something. Even if that action means sharing the video on Facebook or signing a petition to create a more eco-friendly environment, someone watching such a documentary would do something.

The gospel of Mark ends in a very odd manner. (v. 8) It suddenly ends with the women at the tomb of Jesus, fleeing and supposedly not telling anyone of this event because they were afraid. If you were sitting there listening to the gospel of Mark, you would have stood up in frustration when the ‘gospel teller’ walks off because the gospel was over. Today, we would call this a cliff hanger and let’s be real, no one likes a cliff hanger. There’s simply no resolve to the story. It’s an unfinished story that leaves you hanging. (ha-ha sorry!) But in that moment, you would have come to a realization – I need to do something now. I need to finish this story.

When that young man, dressed in a white rob tells the women that Jesus is going back to Galilee, there was profound reasoning behind it. As a listener, it would have made complete sense. We are to go back to Galilee because that’s where Jesus left his legacy.

“But what is that legacy? And why Galilee?”

Great question!

When we look back at the life and ministry of Jesus, it makes sense why we are to go “back to Galilee.” It was in Galilee that Jesus healed the broken, ate with the sinner and attended to the poor and oppressed. Jesus’ legacy was one that tore down the walls that separated people. He broke borders.

This is why the young man tells the woman to relay the message to go back to Galilee! It was so that the disciples could re-experience Jesus all over again. It was a reminder of what they are to be doing, it was a reminder for them that Jesus lives through the interactions they have with the broken, sinners and outcasts.

But it doesn’t stop there!

In the same way, we are to go “back to Galilee” by healing the broken, eating with the sinner and attending to the poor and oppressed. It is when we go around tearing down the walls of separation and breaking borders, that we are able to experience Jesus! We get to re-live the legacy that Jesus left behind.

I challenge you and your church to go “back to Galilee.” Don’t let the story end with a cliff hanger. Take action! Break borders! Go and reach out to the community around you and serve. If you ever felt like your spiritual life and connection with God has been weak or maybe even non-existent, I encourage you to go and have a “Galilee moment.” To go and truly experience Jesus through the legacy he left behind.

Timothy Yun is currently a senior at La Sierra University and English Ministry Pastor at Valley United Korean SDA Church.

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