Scripture: Mark 16:1-13
“I’ll believe it when I see it.” This has been my doubtful response when someone says they will do something, and they failed many times over. Promises from politicians or your kids may fall into this category. You may not say it out loud, but you are thinking it. Hmm. I doubt it.
People let us down and we lose faith in them. We doubt their words. We want to see action. Follow-through. We want to see it to believe it.
Jesus had never given a false promise. Everything thing he said was true. He was the picture of trustworthiness. And he said over and over I must die, but I will rise on the third day. Why was this so hard to believe? Let’s find out.
He has Risen
The three women arrived at the tomb just after sunrise and brought spices to anoint his body. Because the body was wrapped in linen and laid on a stone bed in a carved out tomb not buried underground in a coffin like we do, the bodies were covered in aromatic spices to cover the smell of death.
On the way there they realized they weren’t strong enough to roll the giant stone from the entrance. Matthew 27, tells us there stone was sealed shut and guards were watching to make sure the disciples didn’t try any funny business – like stealing the body and claiming he rose from the dead. The women were apparently not thinking anything like that. They fully expected to find the dead body of Jesus.
But when they arrived the huge stone was already rolled away. Who would have done this?
When they entered the tomb, they were alarmed – frightened and amazed. Jesus’ was not there, but a young man dressed in white said “Don’t be alarmed.” The other Gospels confirm that he was an angel. Everyone that meets an angel is afraid. Their first words are typically “fear not!” He know why they are there. “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen. He is not here.” These were the greatest words they could hear. You don’t have to worry about moving the stone. You don’t have to worry about adding spices to his body. Jesus is not here.
He shows them where Jesus’ body had laid. And then gives them a mission. “Go, tell his disciples and Peter that He is going ahead to Galilee and will meet you all there.”
verse 9 Tells us that Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene. Again this is so amazing that Jesus would choose Mary, a woman, one who had been possessed by demons, but one who loved Jesus because of her great salvation. She went to tell the disciples and found them mourning and weeping after Jesus death. The didn’t believe that Jesus was alive or that she had really seen him.
verse 12 Tells us about the two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus. There’s much more detail in Luke 24. They didn’t realize it was actually Jesus walking and talking with them until he disappeared. But when they returned to tell the other disciples they had seen the Lord, they did not believe them.
verse 14 Jesus finally appears to the eleven disciple as they ate and he scolded them for not believing and for having hard hearts.
The other gospels tell us about hundreds of others who saw Jesus alive again after his crucifixion. Mark wrote this Gospel twenty to thirty years later. There were still eyewitnesses alive who had seen Jesus perform miracles, died, and come back to life. Many tried to refute the resurrection, but they could not ignore the facts. There was no body in the tomb and Jesus was alive!
First the three women expected to find Jesus still dead in the tomb. They forgot or ignored his teaching that he would die and then come back to life. Their response to the empty tomb and seeing the angel was fear and trembling. They initially told no one.
When Jesus appeared to Mary she went to tell the disciples the good news, but they did not believe her. They also did not believe Jesus who said he would rise from the dead.
Even after two more eye witnesses saw Jesus and talked to him, the disciples did not believe.
The greatest of all signs – an empty tomb, an angelic messenger, even eyewitnesses who saw Jesus were not enough to produce faith in his closest followers.
Faith comes by hearing the Gospel – the good news that Jesus was crucified and died for our sins and then rose from the dead conquering sin and death. Seeing is not believing it’s faith and that comes by the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his disciples about this in John 16:8.
John 16:8 (ESV): And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
Ephesians 2 tells us our salvation is completely by faith which comes through God’s grace. Nothing we can boast about, not even believing on our own. This passage tells us we were spiritually dead in our sins until we were awakened and given enough life to respond to the Gospel and believe.
Eph 2:4-5 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—”
So what’s your response?
One of the many reasons the Bible is credible and believable is its complete honesty. If you were writing this story, you would have made the disciples heroes. They would not have run away when their leader was arrested and condemned. The women would have come to the tomb rejoicing because they believed Jesus had risen. As the good news of the resurrection was shared everyone would have immediately believed.
But instead the Bible shows us the truth, that people are flawed, we lack faith, we are fearful, we struggle with doubt and we sin. But God loves anyway and offers salvation to the humble, the poor in spirit, the outcasts, the overlooked, the marginalized.
The Apostle Paul summed up the Gospel this way in 1 Cor. 15:3-4
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
Because Jesus rose from the dead there is hope of all things being made new again. The perfect world God created was broken by sin and peace with God was impossible. So God promised a redeemer, a messiah who would suffer and die in place of sinful people, and rise again the everlasting Prince of Peace. Our sin breaks everything – our relationship with God, our relationship with others around us – even our own family is pushed away by our sinful pride and selfishness. But the cross and the resurrection changed everything. Jesus is our peace and he offers forgiveness, salvation, and peace with our Father, God. The Bible also promises with the hope of eternal life, the hope of a full restoration – our broken hearts mended, our broken bodies made whole, our broken world made new. Eternity with God.
Our modern era is the first in history where happy endings are viewed as childish and bad story telling. We have bad guys who do good, and good guys who fail. Our stories end with no resolution or worse nothing really matters. They leave us hopeless and helpless.
The Gospel – Tim Keller quote
Without the resurrection –
Life ends and it’s over. It’s meaningless and sad. And it doesn’t really matter what you do or don’t do in this life. Enjoy it, endure it, end it. It makes no difference.
With the resurrection –
There is a perfect hero who saves us when all hope is lost. A future exists where brokenness is made whole, wrongs made right, relationships mended.
The resurrection brings real hope for this world and the future.
Only salvation in Jesus brings real hope
1 Cor 15:54 “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.””
verse 57 “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
You’ve heard the good news. If the Holy Spirit has convicted you to believe that you are a sinner and you need a Savior, then I would encourage you to respond. Come meet me at the front of the church and we can talk and pray together to begin your new life with Jesus Christ. Come right now. If you’re watching on line that will be a little harder. You can contact me through the church website or office and we can set up a time to talk.
It doesn’t matter how far you feel from God. Jesus’ own disciples deserted him and didn’t believe. But God welcomes everyone. He wants you to have peace with Him and eternal life.
The Bible says, now is the right time to be saved. Don’t wait another day.
If you are already a believer, is the gospel of “first importance” in your life? Do you want to share it with everyone you care about?
Does God’s love for you, his unconditional forgiveness, his daily grace and mercy change the way you respond to the people all around you? Can they see and hear how Jesus changed your life?
Do you feel like you have wandered too far from Jesus? Our loving Father welcomes back his prodigals with open arms. Pray right now. Confess your sins. Ask Him to renew a right spirit in you. And commit to walking with Him daily.