Mark 16: Resurrection
I was sent this questionnaire by a mate and it’s rather chillingly called, insurance companies use it, it’s called the countdown calculator and it’s used to work out how long clients will live. So you fill in your date of birth, anyone does this? It’s rather fun actually. You fill in your date of birth and it says do you smoke, if so how often? Do you exercise regularly?
On average how much do you drink? Do you eat saturated fats? Saturated fats, just to say those are things like gooseberries, carrots and Brussels sprouts, don’t go near them they’ll kill you. And are you overweight, if so by how much? Honestly, I got on one of those motorway service station scales and it said, ‘one at a time please.’ How many hours’ sleep do you have a night? That was ok, I’m a clergyman, I only work one day a week, that’s not so bad. Is there a history of cardiovascular problems in your family? Have you ever been involved in a car accident, if so how many? They think you’re some psycho or something, how many times have you had an accident you know. Do you wear a seat belt? On it goes. Do you have casual unprotected sex?
On it goes, on it goes. Anyway you answer all these things on the countdown calculator and then it tells you, this is amazing, your age of death and your date of death.
I tell you what I did it, I had a salad for lunch, I went for a run and I was in bed by 10.15pm. I know that, unless Jesus comes first, I will die one day. I don’t know if you realise but we all have a sexually transmitted disease, it’s called life and it’s fatality rate is 100%.
because of what we read in Mark 16, the ultimate terror of death is removed. I
know that I am trusting in what Jesus has done, and so I am right with God with
whom I shall meet when I die. Does that sound arrogant? How can I be so sure
that I am right with God? On the course we have seen the reality of our sin.
We know we are guilty, and we know what our sin is.
We know it is our failure to treat God as we should, and our failure to treat each other as we should. And we have seen that all evil comes from inside our hearts. That is what our sin is.
But the death and resurrection of Jesus show me where my sin is – It is on the cross; dealt with and paid for at His death by Jesus.
And I know that God has accepted the sacrifice of Jesus in my place because He has raised Jesus to life from that death He died for me.
So the resurrection of Jesus to life proves to me that God has accepted His dreadful death in my place, and so as I gratefully place my trust and life into the hands of the risen Lord Jesus, He comes to live in me by His Holy Spirit – which we were told He would do from 1:8, and I am freed from the tyranny of death.
Let’s trace the events of the resurrection morning from Mark’s brief record of it in chapter 16:
1 Dead and buried!
15:40-16:3. These women have watched his gruesome death (15:40), they have
seen where he’s buried (15:47).
Joseph of Arimathea goes to Pilate and rather bravely asks permission to bury the body. Pilate is surprised to hear that Jesus has expired so comparatively quickly. So he checks the facts.
He asks the centurion if Jesus is in fact dead, and the senior executioner confirms that it is true. So Pilate signs the remains of Jesus over to Joseph who takes His lifeless bloodied body down from the cross, wraps it in linen verse 46, he places it in a tomb cut out of rock. Jesus Christ was dead and buried.
And now it’s 36 hours later on the Sunday morning, and these three grieving women who we learn in :41 have cared for Jesus and looked after his needs, come to do what they imagine is the last loving thing they can do for Him.
Sometime after dark the previous evening, when the Jewish Sabbath was over and the shops were opening again they had gone and bought some spices. Their idea was to put them on the linen that the corpse of Jesus was wrapped in, as a last loving act, to mask the smell of decay.
So they are up first thing the next morning, and off down to the tomb. 15:47 tells is they knew where they were going because they had seen the burial of Jesus. Things couldn’t have been more dismal. A young life has been murderously cut off; Jesus’ other followers are still in hiding; they’re grieving the loss of a loved one; his killers are in power; there’s a real cause for fear.
As they made their way to the grave they discussed the barrier they were going to face that morning. :3*.They had seen Joseph roll the very large stone across the entrance to the tomb (15:46).
So this was a grim morning. They experience grief at the loss of their dearest friend, fear that His killers might come for His followers, and powerlessness because of the stone. And in a sense these are the most common emotions in bereavement - grief, fear, powerlessness.
That’s why the loss of a loved one is so dreadful. That’s how it was for the women because Jesus was dead and buried.
2 Alive and well!
Let’s have a look at 16:4-6 because something happens next that will change not just their lives but our lives, it changes the existence of the human race. “But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.
As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.’” And now their worlds are changed forever, life and death is never the same again.
Do you see what he says, “’He has risen! He is not here.
See the place where they laid him.’”
Now, this is staggering! Do you see that if Christ has risen life can never be the same again. The past certainty of His resurrection gives me a future hope, if it happened.
The Bible says it means that his body is a prototype of the future bodies we’ll have. S
o we die, our bodies disintegrate, we rot but this says that there is a new resurrection body that Jesus had as He rose, and that we’ll have a resurrection body too. So it is possible to have hope in the face of death, real hope because a body comes back and that’s a promise that we’ll have real bodies again.
And as we see in our mind’s eye Jesus coming out of the tomb, we are like the villagers in the story who see their hero coming out of the cave – now we know we have won!
The resurrection proves that forgiveness for my sin is in place and fully operational. Do you remember last week how we saw that Jesus was forsaken so that we need never be? Now how do I know that my sin got paid for? Answer: well the Bible says that sin leads to death, the cross deals with my sin, and the resurrection proves that God has accepted the death of Jesus in my place, and that actually my death can be dealt with.
The implications of this truth are life-changing.
As we go back to the passage notice that the women were given two staggering shocks of escalating intensity which not only alarm them but leave them in :8, ‘trembling and bewildered,’ and they flee from the tomb.
And the word ‘flee’ there is the word used to escape a wild animal, they’re just shattered, they’re in shock. What would you do if you were chased by a bull? That’s what’s going on here.
So the first shock comes in :4 when they find that there’s no need for their question of :3, “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance of the tomb?” They arrive and they find that the stone has been dealt with and the word originally for rolled away is hurled out. Cosmic power has ripped the stone out, it’s literally flipped over and on one side.
Secondly they’re shocked because they also find that not only is there no need for their question, ‘who rolled away the stone?’ there’s also no need for the spices that they’ve spent so much money on. You could say they were the original Spice Girls; Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Salome.
You know they’ve got these expensive spices as an expression of love but divine power has dealt with the large stone and the dead body. So this corpse, do you believe this, has been raised to life.
Then this young man dressed in white, (who is obviously an authorised messenger of God) says ‘don’t be alarmed, don’t be scared stiff.’
They’re terrified. ‘Don’t be terrified, you’re looking for Jesus the Nazarene who was crucified.’
So yes, a man from Nazareth, Jesus, whose death was real and you saw it, was crucified, that man was really buried here, see the place where they laid him, you are not imagining this, that’s the place where he was laid, you’re not dreaming it really happened, but it is not the end of the story. You can see the place, you can see the discarded grave clothes, but you won’t see him, He’s not here, He is risen.
Now, you might have encountered people who think that it is unnecessary to believe in the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus’ corpse to life. They refuse to believe what is beyond their person credibility limit. They react in the same dismissive way to all that the Bible says about the miraculous.
However, as we read Mark 16 we have to see that the scope of what we are talking about here is presented to us unashamedly as being utterly astonishing! Clearly it did not sit easily with the early morning visitors to the tomb that day. Bringing life to a corpse is entirely beyond the realms of human science and power.
But we should not reject the resurrection of the dead on the grounds we can’t do it. Some people do that. They reject the plain teaching of the Bible about Jesus dying and rising on the basis that if we can’t do it, it can’t be done.
It is a mind-blowing truth that we are being told about here in 16:. And Mark does not rose-tint the original hearers of the news that Jesus, whom they had seen crushed to death 36 hours earlier, was now alive again forever. Mark shows us the incredulity of the women. He in no way down-plays their struggle to comprehend what they are being told about Jesus.
Mark packs no punches. He doesn’t tell a story of the women finding and embalming the body wrapped in the linen Joseph had bought, and going home for coffee, and comforting each other by the thought that Jesus is kind of alive and still with us. And pledging themselves to keep His memory alive though they knew He was decomposing in a tomb.
No, Mark is unafraid to show us a very understandable human reaction to a staggering claim, that the dead can live.
The women didn’t think the man in white gave them a metaphor, he nearly gave them a heart-attack! I want you to see that the Christian gospel is completely intolerant of make-believe. We are not told to make of it what we will, we are given the information to trust in for our lives and our deaths.
And it is such a great thing that the Bible does not let us reduce the staggering wonder of Jesus raised from death to a mere metaphor. Because when I come to die, death will not be a metaphor, it will be flesh and blood real. And I will need something more that a word-picture to get me through that. Which is why the flesh and blood death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is so gloriously life-and-death-changing.
3 Risen and reigning!
Look again at Mark 16:6*. “... see the place where they laid Him.” Finally the friends of Joseph came and helped him lay the dead body of Jesus in a tomb. But let me remind you of the catalogue of things that were done to Jesus earlier.
They had betrayed Him, rejected Him, mocked Him, spat on Him, flogged Him, and killed Him. All of the things that were done to Jesus reveal the verdict of the people who did them, on Him. He was worthless to them, they attached no value to His life.
But the resurrection shows that God has reversed that verdict, and demonstrates that He places ultimate worth on His Son. God did not leave Jesus where men had to lay Him after being betrayed, rejected, mocked, spat upon, flogged and killed. No, the startling news came - He is risen! God thinks differently about His Son. Men rejected Him, God has exalted Him.
The women had been worried about the stone at the entrance to the tomb, but they would never have thought of that stone blocking the exit from the tomb. They only thought of going to embalm the dead Jesus, they never dreamed of the risen Jesus coming to meet them. But in a sense they should have.
Jesus always spoke about the certainty of His resurrection when He spoke of His death, 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34*.
It was because of this that the man from heaven said in :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.”
What a picture this is of the sovereign power of King Jesus.
The messenger from heaven reminds them of what Jesus had said – three days later I will rise! Who else could be in such control of every aspect of his death and resurrection?
He had told His disciples He needed to borrow a colt to travel into Jerusalem on in 11:3, and a large room for His last meal with His disciples in 14:14, and we know that Joseph loaned Him a tomb. When we put all these together it is almost as though Jesus had been saying to His followers – we are going to have a really tough time, I need a colt for a few hours and a room for an evening, you will see me die and I will need to borrow a tomb for 3 days, but I am rising on Sunday, and we will all meet up for lunch in Galilee on Monday as planned.
Anyone could say these words, but only a King of staggering sovereign power could make them happen! The resurrection of Jesus proves that God has accepted His death for my sin as full and final payment, it reverses the world’s verdict on Jesus and shows that He is God’s exalted Son and King – who never ceased to reign in sovereign control, even as He was being rejected by the Jews, abandoned by the disciples brutalised by the Romans and forsaken by God on the cross as He paid for my sin.
And the reality of the resurrection is proven by the vitality of the Christian church today. One thing is certain; if Jesus did not rise from the dead we would never have heard of him.
These women had come to pay their last loving tribute to a dead body, they’ve come to anoint a corpse, it’s over, we’re done. Peter, who had betrayed Jesus and the others think that they will eventually go back to fishing and pick up their lives, it’s agony. They thought that everything had finished in this tragedy as Christ was murdered and their hopes were shattered. But now those three words ‘He has risen’ change everything and they are the words upon which the Christian faith is built; they bring the Christian church into existence.
4 Go and tell!
What a privilege was given to the women in :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.” What a comfort these words of :7 would have been to the first readers of this gospel, and every generation since who have suffered for their faith in Christ. How good to know, that He has literally gone ahead of us. He knows what it is to suffer to die and to rise, and so those who follow Him may suffer, may die but will certainly rise.
The exit from the grave is held open by Jesus for those who are His.
And just as the disciples were told they would see Jesus, so the whole of the Bible tells us that this will be true for everyone who has ever lived. He is the risen, reigning King and Saviour. Planet earth is sustained by Him, and has not seen the last of Him.
Now, we can see how utterly and uncompromisingly honest Mark is in his record of what happened that day. :8 tells us that at least initially the women were so completely overwhelmed that they ran for their lives and said nothing. It was just too much to process. Nevertheless, you can see that this news of the resurrection must be told. The news is: Jesus is alive, and you are going to meet Him, just as He said. So let me say it again, and then explain it, this news of the resurrection must be told. The news is: Jesus is alive, and you are going to meet Him, just as He said.
Do you see the inescapable implications of the resurrection for everyone? Have a look at Acts 17, Paul is speaking in Athens, and in :31, what Paul says, “For he,” that is God,
“has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.” How do we know he will judge the world with justice? “He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”
So Christ’s resurrection not only brings hope, because He is risen and reigning, it also promises that Christ has the power and the right to raise us and judge us. Imagine this tape contains your whole life, every deed, word and thought – unedited. We know there’s loads that’s brilliant on it from loving relationships, kindness, generosity, fulfilment of gifts and abilities, loads of stuff. There’s also much of which we’re utterly ashamed but we may think we’re through with the past and we can forget it. But the resurrection says we’re not through with the past because the past is not through with us because God will raise us.
How can it be any other way? He is our Creator, and He has stepped into history to be our rescuer from sin. He has given His life so that those who trust in Him can be forgiven and put right with God. So there has to come an end point in history where He returns to this world, which is still in rebellion against Him, and end that rebellion. There must come a day when God shows that the despised Jesus is His beloved, exalted, Son and King.
Now that is a terrifying prospect, if you, like me know how badly you have treated the Lord Jesus. But let me close by showing you from Mark 16 how you can be ready and unashamed to meet Jesus when He returns.
:7 says, “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.” They had all fled from Jesus at the critical time. But Peter had denied knowing Him. This is the man who argued in Mark 8 that Jesus should not go to the cross. But notice how after his failure the risen Lord Jesus sends a particular message to Peter, knowing perhaps that he would have thought his failure was final. But we find that Peter is welcome. Jesus had not come to be served – which is just as well – He had given His life as a ransom.
The joy of the resurrection is that though we have made a complete mess of our relationship with the Lord, through our selfish motives, He did go to the cross, He paid for that sin, and He lives to forgive those who trust in Him. So this is the message that everyone needs to hear - Jesus is alive, and you are going to meet Him, just as He said. But you can, and must meet Him before then, by faith, and as you thank Him for dying for you, ask His forgiveness for your sin, and place your life in His hands, you can go through life with no fear of death or judgement because He faced it for you. Often on TV advertisements a voice will inform us that “operators are standing by to take your call.” This is no cheap advertisement, but I close by saying, the risen Lord Jesus is able to hear you if you will call to Him today. Lets pray.