************ Sermon on Mark 16 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on April 4, 2010
"He Has Risen"
"He has risen indeed!" "He has risen indeed!" "He has risen indeed!" That is what all of us said this morning. That is what those who professed their faith said.
"He has risen indeed!" When we say that, we are doing better than the women who came to the tomb. We are doing better than Peter and John. We are doing better than the rest of the disciples. In fact, we are doing better than everyone of the first Christians.
"He has risen indeed!"
I The Women's Arrival at the Tomb
A Mark tells us about three women: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome. You just have to love these women. In Galilee, these women followed Jesus and cared for His needs (Mk 15:41). At Golgotha, they stood by the cross and watched Jesus suffer and die (Mk 15:41). And now we see them coming to Jesus' tomb (Mk 16:1). Literally, they serve Jesus in life and in death.
In Mark 16 we notice two things about the women as they approach the tomb. First, they "bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body" (Mk 16:1). Second, they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?" (Mk 16:3).
Do you know what these two things tell us? These two things indicate they did not expect Jesus to rise from the dead. Scripture tells us they were planning to "anoint Jesus' body" – Jesus' dead body – not only with their tears but also with their spices. Remember, too, that in that time and place, spices were poured over a dead body to counteract the odor of decay. They were also concerned about the stone blocking the entrance to the tomb. Obviously, they knew where Jesus' lay; equally obvious, they knew the stone was big and heavy and beyond the strength of even three ladies to move (cf Mk 16:4). But why buy spices and worry about a stone if Jesus has risen from the dead?
B The women arrive at the tomb. They notice two things. First, they notice the stone "had been rolled away" (Mk 16:4). The big, heavy stone they had worried about was rolled away. Second, "they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side" (Mk 16:5). The white robe and the message makes clear this is an angel sent from God.
Scripture tells us "they were alarmed" (Mk 16:5). I want you to note that the same word is used here as was used for Jesus in the Garden (Mk 14:33). Alarm. Distress. Anguish. Great sorrow. The word expresses strong emotion.
"And they were alarmed" (Mk 16:5). Why were they alarmed? Because something must have happened to Jesus. Something terrible. His body has been stolen. Or, His body has been hidden. Whatever it is that has happened, they are not going to have a final opportunity to say good-bye, to show Him love, to anoint Jesus with their tears and their spices. Notice, Easter's resurrection was not even a possibility that entered their minds.
C Remember Mark 8:31, Mark 9:31, Mark 10:33? We have been mentioning these three verses quite often in this season of Lent. Jesus said four things must happen to the "Son of Man." First, the "Son of Man" must suffer many things. Second, the "Son of Man" must be rejected. Third, the "Son of Man" must be killed. Fourth, after three days the "Son of Man" must rise again (Mk 8:31).
The women must not have believed what Jesus said. Why else would they have bought spices and worried about the stone? Why else were they alarmed?
As I mentioned in my introduction, the disciples were no better. When Jesus first predicted the four things that must happen to the "Son of Man," Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him (Mk 8:32). And, when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter drew his sword and started to fight (Mk 14:47) and then he and all the disciples fled (Mk 14:50). In the courtyard of the high priest, Peter denied knowing the Lord three times (Mk 14:66f). None of these are the actions of men who believed what Jesus said about His resurrection.
D Where is Jesus on Easter morning? With the church of all ages, with those who professed their faith this morning, we say "He has risen indeed!" He is not in the grave.
Where is Jesus on Easter morning? The disciples and the women think Jesus remains in the grave. He suffered, He was rejected, He died, He was buried. End of story. Isn't this the belief of liberals and unbelievers today? Don't they believe Jesus never rose from the grave?!
Which reminds me, this is not the only wrong belief about the where of Jesus. I was visiting someone in a Roman Catholic Hospital – not sure who or where anymore. I couldn't help but notice every room had a cross; and every cross had a Jesus. Where is Jesus if you are Roman Catholic? He is still on the cross. He is still being sacrificed every single day. He is still shedding His blood every single day. He is still suffering and dying every single day. But notice, our cross is empty (POINT TO CROSS)! And, our tomb is empty!
Where is Jesus? On the cross? In the grave? NO! He is off the cross. He is out of the grave. "He has risen indeed!" This is our confession this Easter Sunday. This is our profession to the world. This is our confession as the people of God.
II The Angel's Announcement
A The angel sees the women's distress. "Don't be alarmed," he said (Mk 16:6). Stop being stressed, upset, alarmed, anguished, and in great sorrow. Notice the reason given:
(Mk 16:6) "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him."Let's take a closer look at these amazing words from the angel.
Let's begin by noticing Jesus' identity according to the angel. Jesus is referred to as "Jesus the Nazarene" (Mk 16:6). A Nazarene is someone from Nazareth – a description applied often to Jesus in the Gospel of Mark (Mk 1:24; 10:47; 14:67; 16:6). In other words, a man, someone with flesh and blood, someone who lived and breathed and ate and slept and worked in Nazareth.
When we do a literal translation, Jesus is also referred to as "the one having been crucified" (Mk 16:6). That is, the One Who was on the cross according to the will and plan of God. The One Who died on the cross. Notice the past tense. Not something ongoing. Not something happening every single day. Something in the past. Something finished. Something that actually happened once for all.
Lastly, when we do a literal translation, Jesus is also the One Who "was raised." From the dead. From the grave. From Sheol – the realm of the dead. How do they know this is true? "See the place where they laid him" (Mk 16:6). It is empty. The body is gone. It has not been stolen. It has not been nursed back to health. It has not been revived by the cool air of the tomb. He has been raised. By God. By the power of God. According to the plan and will of God.
I want you to realize that all three identities need to be seen together: the man from Nazareth, the One crucified, the One raised. The Crucified One, Jesus the man from Nazareth, has been raised.
Do you hear what the angel is saying? The angel is saying the Crucified One is also the Raised One. He was crucified but now He is glorified. The shame of His humiliation has been replaced by the glories of His exaltation. There is no need for continued sorrow about the cross and the grave for that is now past. As the song puts it,
The strife is o'er, the battle done;As Jesus puts it in the Revelation,
the victory of life is won;
the song of triumph has begun. Alleluia!
(Rev 1:18) I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!
Do you see why the angel says, "Don't be alarmed" (Mk 16:6)? Why he tells them to stop being stressed, upset, alarmed, anguished, and in great sorrow? Because the Crucified One, Jesus the man from Nazareth, has been raised.
Where is Jesus on Easter Sunday? Not on the cross – His suffering is finished. Not in the grave – "He has risen!" God has raised Him from the dead.
B After saying this incredible news, the angel then gives the women a task:
(Mk 16:7) 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.'The angel simply repeats what Jesus had said earlier. On the way to the cross, on the way to the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus predicted the apostles would scatter like sheep without a shepherd; He also predicted that Peter would disown Him three times. This does not mean all was bleak and doom and gloom. Because Jesus also added
(Mk 14:28) But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.Jesus promised that He would rise. Jesus promised that the apostles would see Him.
Do you hear the position the women were given? They were made the apostles of the apostles. An apostle, you need to remember, is a person sent by another; a messenger; an envoy. The women were sent as apostles to the apostles with good news, great news. Why were the women given this calling? As a reward, I believe, for their faithful service: in Galilee, at the cross, to the grave, and in the grave. They did what the apostles themselves did not do: they lovingly stayed with Jesus in His darkest hours.
We notice three things in their calling. First, they were to tell the apostles that Jesus has risen. Tell them that the cross and the grave were not the end. Tell them that their hopes and joys have not been buried in the tomb. Tell them to stop being stressed, upset, alarmed, anguished, and in great sorrow. Because the Crucified One, Jesus the man from Nazareth, has been raised.
Second, we notice that the angel mentions Peter by name: "But go, tell his disciples and Peter" (Mk 16:7). Why was Peter alone mentioned by name? Peter was singled out not because of his preeminence among the disciples, not because he was to be the first pope, but to show he was still included as one of the Apostles despite his triple denial of knowing the Lord. In other words, this is a message that tells Peter he has been forgiven for disowning Jesus. The women were appointed as God's agents to deliver to Peter the Gospel message of forgiveness.
There is another reason Peter is mentioned by name as well. Mark's Gospel was written to encourage persecuted Christians in Rome and elsewhere. Many of these Christians made compromises with the world; they participated in the idol worship of the trade guilds so they could keep their jobs and businesses and raise their families in safety. In other words, like Peter, they denied or disowned Christ before men. To such broken Christians the mention of Peter is a message of hope, of restoration, of forgiveness. All they need do, like the women, is acknowledge and confess Christ before men (cf Mt 10:32-33).
Third, they were to tell the disciples they would see Jesus in Galilee just as He told them. One of my most prized possessions is my appointment book (HOLD IT UP). Not much to look at. But it is what I use to keep my life organized. In spite of this, however, I sometimes still miss things. A couple of weeks ago I was working hard on a sermon. When I looked up from my work I realized I had just missed a CVC Technology Committee meeting even though it was in my appointment book. The Lord Jesus, however, never misses His appointments. He never forgets His appointments. He always keeps His appointments.
(Mk 16:7) He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.We expect that, don't we, from He Who is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End (cf Rev 1:8; 21:6; 22:13). He is above time and beyond time and controls time and keeps time. So, of course He keeps His appointments and His promises.
III The Women's Response
A "Come and see. Go and tell." It was not enough for the women to be spectators; they had to become ambassadors, apostles, and carry the word of Christ's resurrection to others. That is what the angel said to the women. That was their resurrection responsibility. That was their calling. And, you know, that is our calling as well.
So, what did the women do? How did they respond? You already know:
(Mk 16:8) Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.We notice three responses.
First, the women were "trembling and bewildered" (Mk 16:8). More exactly, they were held fast, they were in the grip of, fear and trembling. You need to realize this is an often repeated theme in Mark's Gospel. This was the reaction when Jesus quieted the wind and the waves (Mk 4:41). This was the reaction when Jesus sent demons into a herd a pigs (Mk 15:15). This was the reaction when Jesus healed the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years (Mk 15:33). This was the reaction when Jesus raised a little girl from the dead (Mk 15:36). This was the reaction when Jesus walked on water (Mk 6:50-52). This was the reaction at Jesus' transfiguration (Mk 9:6). Each time, people are amazed and frightened and bewildered and afraid at disclosures of God's presence and power.
This time is no different. On Easter Sunday, God does an awesome display of His presence and power and the women are trembling, bewildered, afraid.
B Second, "the women went out and fled" (Mk 16:8). They ran away. They really were no different than the apostles who all fled in the Garden (Mk 14:50).
C Third, "They said nothing to anyone" (Mk 16:8). The Greek is especially strong here using a double negative: "To no one nothing they said." If you know the Gospel of Mark, you are to see irony here. Throughout the Gospel, people were told to keep quiet, but they spread news about Jesus anyway (Mk 3:12; 7:36; 8:30; 9:9; 10:47). This time, people were told to spread the word, but they kept quiet. I pray that none of us allow fear to keep us from doing our appointed service.
The disciples were a disappointment. One betrayed him. All deserted him. Another one denied him. None believed either the prediction or the news of the resurrection.
The women were a disappointment. Yes, they stayed with Jesus longer than did the disciples. Yet, they trembled and were afraid. They fled. They kept quiet. And, they too believed neither the prediction or the news of the resurrection.
Which tells us what? Which tells us the news of Easter's resurrection is so great, so awesome, so mysterious, so wonderful that sinful human hearts cannot accept this until or unless they have an encounter with the risen Lord which changes their hearts and renews their minds.
Are we like the disciples? Are we like the women? Or, do we – by grace – believe the news of Easter's resurrection?
To end, I would like to ask you to turn again to our call to worship, # 364 in the TCH. Let us say this again as our profession to the world and as our confession with one another ...
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