Resurrection Notes Mark 16

The story of the resurrection is a sermon that preaches itself. It tells you all you need to know to receive a renewed hope of God today. My job this morning will be to stay out of the way as best I can. Instead of taking over for the text this morning, I will simply supplement information when I feel it is necessary and present the precious story of Christ’s resurrection to you.

Here then, is Mark 16:1-8

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back— it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Verse 1: The fact that Jesus died going into the Sabbath presented his followers with a dilemma. They weren’t allowed to do anything to prepare the body for burial since no work was to be done on the weekly day of rest. It might be difficult to understand that now, but God had told the Israelites not to work on the Sabbath, and those who cared about their faith did not disobey that order. So we catch up to them after the Sabbath, on the first day of the week, when some of Christ’s female supporters are taking spices to the tomb to anoint his body. This was the custom of the day.

Verse 2: The dedication of Christ’s followers cannot be mistaken here. They waited through the day of rest, but as soon as they were allowed by custom to work again, they were on the way to Jesus’ tomb. For those who are already Christians this morning, is your desire to serve God as deep as this?

Verse 3: The stone was put there to keep Jesus’ followers from stealing his body. You see, the religious rulers of the day assumed that Christ could be resurrected from the dead, so they figured that the disciples would try to steal Jesus’ body from the tomb to prove his resurrection. The stone was designed to be big enough that no one could get in. You can read more about this by going to Matthew 27:62 through 66.

Verse 4: The women so desired to get to Jesus that they didn’t even think about who might roll away the stone so they could get in. Imagine their amazement when it was already gone! This is the first indication that something was not quite right.

Verse 5: Picture, if you will, entering a cemetery in our culture. You’re going to the gravesite of a friend who was buried a few days ago. You’re expecting to see fresh dirt covering the burial site. When you get there, not only has the body presumably been exhumed, but there are special agents passed out nearby and a young man, called an angel in Matthew 28, is sitting on a nearby bench. That feeling you have right now is probably what they had then.

Verse 6: Have you ever been so hit by some news that you had to gather your thoughts? You’ve seen it before, haven’t you? Someone receives news so devastating or so amazing that they kind of half-cover their mouths and just stand immovable? Or the “you’d better sit down for this” type of news report. They were so surprised, so awestruck, that the angel had to tell them exactly what to do. See the place where they laid him. It was a command as much as anything. They had to be talked through each move after the surprise of Jesus’ resurrection.

Verse 7: We don’t know how long the women stared at the place where Jesus’ body was supposed to be before the angel told them to go back to Galilee to meet Jesus. What we do know is that the angel wanted them to know that Christ had indeed risen and that he was going to be seeing them soon.

Verse 8: Again, how afraid and awestruck they were. Think again to the cemetery scenario I talked about a few verses ago. Imagine that your friend, whom you buried a few days ago, was gone, the special agents are lying on the ground still, and this angel is telling you to go to a certain place so your friend can meet you there.

I’ve tried to imagine this scenario often, wondering what it would really be like to see the grave empty, to see the guards knocked out from the angel’s appearing, and to be told that he’s alive and that I should go see him. You see, we have 2000 years of history on our side. We know that he rose from the dead, but that first morning, that first Easter, they didn’t know what to expect. It is an almost child-like wonder that we should embrace instead of mock.

Christ indeed is risen. As the old song says:

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
  Hallelujah! Christ arose!

I think that we can recapture the awe and inspiration of God if we imagine what it might have been like to be the first to find him raised from the dead. Spend some time today thinking through that scenario and reading the scriptures. May your faith be renewed this morning!

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