Easter Sunday B


Featured guests: Lit Liturgy Podcast!

  • Lydia Posselt

  • Becca Middeke-Conlin

PSALMIST: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Tasty Wafer:Lit Liturgy Podcast!

Featured Musician:The Steel Wheels


Exegetical Notes

Mark 16:1-8

Initial Thoughts

  • What makes this story different from the other Gospels?

Bible Study

  • The Three Endings - We like the disciples are not content with Jesus’ passion predictions and the lack of a resurrection appearance - we demand closure

    • γαρ ("for" or "however"; 16:8) This is a conjunction- it cannot (or should not) ever end a sentence- that is because the Gospel continues-in you

    • Mark 16:8b is added as a rounded out summation, Mark 16:9-20 is added later but is known by second century

    • Both endings are additions, most scholars agree that Mark 16:8a is the original ending- even though it is disturbing and seemingly unfinished

    • The Gospel of Peter also end with an empty tomb

  • Women come to the tomb when the disciples are hiding in fear (at least according to Matthew and Luke)

    • Spices - used as a sign of love to make the rotting body smell nice- not to embalm- the Jews did not embalm people

    • Women are no better than the disciples- they come expecting a dead Jesus and once again abandon Jesus in silence and fear

    • Timing is specific (as it always in in Mark) - after the Sabbath, first day of the week - 3 days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)

    • They do not come expecting the resurrection but the dead body (in this they are just as unbelieving as the disciples)

    • “Who will roll away the stone for us?” is the only comment from the women

  • Young man

    • Angel or the reclothed young man from Gethsemane (Mark 14:51-52)?

      • Angel: White clothes depict holiness, fear is the proper response to angelic appearances

      • Man: restoration of relationships - “All of them deserted him and fled” v. 50 - then the young man in a linen cloth abandons Jesus and leaves naked. The man is here again clothed (much like Adam and Eve) and relationship is restored. The young man tells them to tell all the disciples (including Peter) to meet Jesus in Galilee - insinuating Jesus’ impending forgiveness of Peter’s denial

    • Restoration of relationship - Peter and the disciples...including Judas? No mention of Judas since the betrayal

  • Galilee - A circular gospel?

    • Readers: Return to Galilee which is the beginning  of the Gospel - want to see Jesus? Read the Gospel

    • Disciples- Begin your ministry where Jesus began his. In sharing the good news in word and deed you will encounter the resurrected Christ

    • The door of memories - the Greek word for tomb (μνημειον) comes from the Greek word for memory and the Greek word for entrance (θυρα) also means door. Literally- who will roll the stone away from the door of memories?

      • The words of the Angel - “just as he told you” Go to Galilee - remember what Jesus told you- roll away the stone from your door of memories. Remember who Jesus is and therefore who you are!

  • Resurrection

    • The justification of the righteous. Jesus resurrected was God’s way of vindicating Jesus.

Sermon Thoughts

  • Are we content with an empty tomb and the command to begin our ministry in light of an empty cross? Do we need Jesus to tell us exactly what to do after being raised or do we know from his ministry in life unto death on the cross?

  • How often do we get caught up in the foolish particularities (who will roll away the stone) and overlook the good news (Jesus said he would rise again- his life is marked with victory over death)? Perhaps the devil truly in in the details by tempting us toward problem solving instead of moving us toward faith.

  • You are the end of the story. We want to have a nice concise ending- a sweet story to send children to bed with - But the good news is not just about the story, but the story which moves us to action. You are the end of the Gospel. You want to experience the resurrected Christ? Live as he lived, love as he loved, forgive as he forgave, and believe and he believed and you will experience Jesus.

  • What would the church look like if we were less concerned with the resurrection (eternal life/heaven/etc) and more concerned with living as Jesus lived (even if it means our own death)?

John 20:1-18

Initial Thoughts

  • This is the a choice for a reading every Easter, years A, B, and C.

    • Easter 2B is John 20:19-31, Jesus appears to disciples and Thomas.

    • Easter 3B is Luke 24:36b-48, After Emmaus: I am not a ghost

    • Easter 4B is John 10:11-18 I am the Good Shepherd.

    • Easter 5B is John 15:1-8 Farewell Discourse: I am the True Vine

    • Easter 6B is John 14:23-29 Farewell Discourse: Abide in my love

    • Easter 7B is John 17:20-26 Jesus prayers for disciples before his arrest.

  • Even better- Focus on 1 John!!

Bible Study

  • Empty Tomb

    • Early in the morning, while it is still dark. (Easter sunrise services?)

    • Mary Magdalene is alone. Sees that the stone is rolled away.

    • Mary gets Peter, but Peter is slow. Beloved Disciple gets there first.

      • Beloved Disciple - no where does Bible say that this is John.

      • Authorship of Gospel is anonymous.

    • BD stands at door, sees linens

    • Peter comes, runs in, saw linens, including face cloth folded neatly.

      • What does this signify? Not grave robbers? No grave robber would fold up the linens neatly.

    • BD then comes in. He “saw and believed.”

      • Raymond Brown says “The fourth evangelist does not challenge the tradition that Peter was the first of the Twelve to see the risen Lord (Luke 24:34, 1 Cor 15:5); but in his consistent desire to exalt the Beloved Disciple, John has that disciple come to faith even before the risen Lord appears or prophetic Scripture is recalled. Thus the Disciples becomes the first full believer.” (Raymond Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament, p. 359)

      • Unclear what, exactly, he believed. Next line is “They didn’t yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead.”.

      • Perhaps they believed Mary’s report that “they had taken Jesus body.”

    • Peter and BD find empty tomb, believe, but don’t understand. Then they go back.

      • They come to check on Mary’s report, see that she is speaking the truth, but go back completely untransformed. The empty tomb wasn’t enough for them. In fact, this scene ends with Mary going back to tell them, but in the next scene they are still locked in a room.

    • Many bizarre details that are hard to make sense of.

      • Mary is alone but says, “we don’t know what they’ve done with him.”

      • Why are the linens so meticulously described? Face cloth folded, and placed apart from the rest.

  • Jesus Appears to Mary

    • “At the heart of the Gospel reading for Easter is the resurrection appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene, leading to her confession, ‘I have seen the Lord.’ The narrative tells a wonderful story of a seeking woman, who is surprised by what she finds, or better, by the One who finds her. Hearing her name spoken by Jesus’ familiar voice brings a transformation of her grief and the opening of a new world.” (Charles Cousar, Texts for Preaching, Year C, p. 273).

    • Mary lingers, crying.

      • Mourning is important. Cannot get to healing without mourning first. Resurrection does not take away tears, it just means tears are not the end of the story.

    • Two angels ask her “why are you crying?”

    • “They’ve taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.”

    • Sees Jesus, but does not recognize him until he says her name.

      • When he speaks, “Mary,” she responds “Rabbi.”

      • There is a poignant beauty in her recognizing him only after he speaks her name. “My sheep listen to my voice.” (John 10:27 - will be the text in a couple of weeks)

    • Jesus tells her “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.’

      • Relationship status is one of equality. Disciples are siblings. They share the same Father.

      • Translation issue - NRSV has only “Go to my brothers.” Not really a problem, but something to be aware.

Sermon Thoughts

  • Jesus first appears to Mary. This fact cannot be overstated. In a world where men continue to try and use the Bible to justify subordination and violence, the fact that Mary is the first to recognize that Jesus had risen is important. She is the first witness to proclaim, “I have seen Jesus.”

  • “Don’t hold onto me… Go.” As wonderful as Easter is, we cannot hold onto it. We need to move forward. The great anthems, the packed pews, the new faces are all so great. It should be celebrated, but we cannot hold onto it. Monday is coming. Easter 2C is coming. We need to go. Go into the community. Go into the places where people are and need to hear “I have seen Jesus.”


Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

Initial thoughts

  • Psalm Song - "Into Your Hands" by Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

  • Lectionary selection for both Palm Sunday and Easter for all three years, though the selected verses overlap.  

    • Both weeks read the intro v 1-2: “Give thanks to the LORD because he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever. Let Israel say it: "God's faithful love lasts forever!" (CEB)

    • v 24-29 overlap

      • “This is the day the LORD acted; we will rejoice and celebrate in it! LORD, please save us! LORD, please let us succeed! The one who enters in the LORD's name is blessed; we bless all of you from the LORD's house. The LORD is God! He has shined a light on us! So lead the festival offering with ropes all the way to the horns of the altar. You are my God—I will give thanks to you! You are my God—I will lift you up high! Give thanks to the LORD b ecause he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever.”

Bible Study

  • Psalm 118’s place in Ancient Hebrew worship is debated.  One theory is that this was a Psalm that “celebrated the re-enthronement of the Davidic monarch” (James Newsome, Texts for Preaching, Year A).

    • Fits Palm Sunday as an enthronement psalm, when Jesus is acting as a new kind of King in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

  • End of what Clint McCann calls the Hallel collection (113-118) which came to be used at Passover.

    • Can also be seen in context of Israel’s return from exile.  It’s use is versatile, as thanksgiving, victory.

  • Tone and emotions of the Psalm are all over the place.  Lots of praise, also distress, so the lection tries to cut it up to make it fit Palm Sunday and Easter.

  • “A psalm of thanksgiving sung by one who has been to the edge of the abyss and who has been delivered by God” (James Newsome, Texts for Preaching, Year A).

  • Non Palm Sunday section

    • v 1-4 Call to Worship - Let all say “God’s steadfast love endures forever”

    • v 5-13 I was in distress, but God saved.

    • v 14-18 God is victorious

      • salvation, victory, valiant, strength

  • v 19-24 Procession

    • In midst of procession is reminder of the failure that preceded this celebration

      • v. 22 - The stone that was rejected has become the cornerstone.

    • The people have come to celebrate, but it is the Lord that is taking action

      • v. 24 This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad.

      • This is the proper order - Acknowledge God’s action, then rejoice.

  • v 25-29 Call for salvation and thanksgiving

    • Ending verse mirrors the opening

      • 118:29 “Give thanks to the LORD because he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever”

Preaching Thoughts

  • Pattern of praise and petition affirm God’s sovereignty.  More realistic as a whole psalm, instead of chopping it up.  Isn’t most of life full of both praise and petition?

  • Powerful as communal prayer and individual promise.  Martin Luther called it “My own beloved psalm.” (Clint McCann, New Interpreter’s Bible, v. IV, p. 1156).

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Initial Thoughts

  • Don’t preach from this. Tell the Easter story, not Paul talking about the Easter story.

  • Paul invented the humble brag.

Bible Study

  • You are saved through the good news, which is this:

    • “Christ died for our sins. He was buried, and on the third day he rose.”

    • The proof of his resurrection is in all those that saw it:

      • (Leaves out the women who first witnessed the resurrection. Paul’s letters predate Gospels, so he may not have been privy to that information, or he may have intentionally left it out of his account. It is hard to believe that Gospel writers would have inserted it because women were not trustworthy witnesses)

      • Peter

      • The Twelve

      • 500 others, some still alive.

      • James

      • Rest of the Apostles

      • Me (Paul)

    • The power of God rests on the reality of the resurrection.

  • The resurrection of Christ is the keystone upon which all of Christianity is built.

    • If there is no resurrection, then death on Cross is the end of the story.

    • If there is no resurrection, then there is no point in Jesus’ life. There is no good news. There is just the execution of a righteous man.

    • Nadia Bolz Weber (paraphrase) “I don’t think the early martyrs died for a good story, or for a good feeling they had after Jesus died.”

    • Go beyond lection, and see that Jesus’ resurrection is about more than just who Jesus is, it is about who we are promised to be. We are invited to be resurrection people, but if the first resurrection didn’t happen, then we are simply lost.

  • Clearly trying to convince Corinthians of a few things

    • Paul didn’t make this stuff up.

    • Resurrection is important.

    • Grace does not come from merit.

Sermon Thoughts

  • Easter matters. All of what we do rests on this idea that Christ was raised from the dead. Everything is for naught if there is no resurrection. What however, is the nature of the resurrection. As Paul said, we were born at the wrong time. Can we still be witnesses to the resurrection of Christ? Clearly, Paul’s witness of the Resurrection was different than that of Peter, but was just as life-altering. What about our experience of the Resurrection.

  • Resurrection is not awarded by merit. There is no deserving resurrection. There is only God’s grace. Response to grace is also important. If we do not respond to grace by sharing the good news, then the grace is “for nothing.” How do we respond to the threat of cheap grace? How do we make the resurrection count?

“You are being saved through it…” Salvation is an ongoing process of hearing, believing, and doing the good news.

Acts 10:34-43

Initial Thoughts

  • The theme for all of the texts on Easter is God’s victory over death.

  • The resurrection is a sign that all Jesus did on earth should be carried on. The resurrection is proof that Jesus is Lord of the living and the dead - all things.

Bible Study

  • Peter’s Elevator Witness

  • Used to describe what Baptism and Christian faith are about

    • Fear of God - i.e. faith

    • Doing right - i.e. works

  • Context:

    • These are Peter’s words at the home of Cornelius, who had gathered friends and relatives to hear Peter. In the previous passage, it is revealed that Cornelius is a Roman Centurion, but “a righteous man, and a God-worshipper who is well-respected by all Jewish people.”

    • This setting is very important - and Peter even says so immediately before this speech, which is about God’s mercy being open to all.

    • Must be understood within context

      • Peter just had a vision that abolished the food laws of clean and unclean

      • Cornelius has a vision to summon Peter

      • Peter goes and preaches to and among gentiles

      • “What God has made clean, you must not call unclean” - this is basis of God’s impartiality

  • The Good News is for everyone

    • There are no cultural or ethnic requirements

    • God calls all people through Jesus Christ

    • Not new to scripture- Deuteronomy 10:17, “God is not partial and takes no bribe.”

      • New to Peter

  • Alan Gregory - Poetic rhythm of the story

    • You must fear God and do right

      • Jesus preaches peace to all people

    • Healing and freedom from oppression led to death

      • Jesus’ ministry was that of “doing good and healing everyone oppressed.” Jesus did this, and for it, he was killed.

    • Death is met is resurrection

    • Resurrection by judgement

    • Judgement with forgiveness

    • And we return to the impartiality of God

      • God is not partial to you or to your enemy- God is partial to reconciliation and forgiveness

  • How do we determine what is of Christ and what isn’t?

    • doing good

    • healing the oppressed

    • Forgiveness

  • Whoever believes in him

    • Jesus or God?

    • If you do not believe in God or Jesus- do you care if you are forgiven?

      • An inclusive message to believers - NOT a message of judgement against unbelievers

    • Israel received the message first, but are not the exclusive receivers of the message

    • Immediately afterwards, this group of Romans began to speak in tongues, and were baptized.

    • After this episode with the Roman gentiles, Peter is questioned by the Jerusalem Church.

Preaching Thoughts

  • This is Peter’s 30 sec elevator witness - what is yours?

  • If God is impartial to Israel or the Jews, then isn’t God also impartial to the church? What does this mean for the church and our mission?

  • If God’s primary focus is forgiveness and reconciliation- How is the church living into this mission? How are each of us?

  • What cultural barriers stand in our way of participating in God’s mission? (just as not associating with Gentiles stood in Peter’s way)


Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).