Mark 16:8 And they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.
Sometimes our world does much to shape our expectations. Take angels, for instance, these days, it seems, they are something everyone would like to see. And we would like to see them, because we imagine that meeting an angel would be no different from meeting a friendly stranger. Nothing really out of the ordinary. And yet, everything that the Bible tells us about angels would indicate that this is not so. We know this because of the almost universal greetings we hear from the Biblical angels – don’t be afraid. You don’t have to say – Don’t be afraid! Unless there is some reason why you would expect those who meet you to be afraid.
But our text to day is somewhat different – for the angel does not say – Don’t be afraid! Instead, he says, Don’t be astonished. Problem is that we really have no idea of what it is to be astonished, its just not part of our vocabulary. But perhaps, if we talk about a kind of awesome amazement that leads to a response of fear and trembling. And that’s the problem, because we have been lead to believe that we need not be afraid of anything – and that nothing is beyond our understanding.
And that is the way of Easter, it is so much beyond our expectations, that we sometimes forget the wonder of it all. We get wrapped up in what we can understand. An Easter egg or an Easter bunny – those we can understand – we may forget that they are symbols of new life, a way of speaking of something too wonderful for words. We may look at the Easter lily as a pretty flower, and forget it is a symbol of the empty tomb and the risen savior, things to wonderful for words.
But though we may not always experience the ecstasy of Easter, we may still find ourselves in the similar situation – for it is not hard to imagine being afraid, and saying nothing to anyone.
And that’s where we would be, if we remain by ourselves – and the Easter message would never be spoken. But it didn’t remain that way for long – may it not remain so for us either.