RESURRECTION OF JESUS
Please turn in your Bibles to Mark chapter 16, as we continue our study in Mark and begin the final chapter of Mark. This evening we will begin looking at the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Is that important? You bet it is! For without the resurrection of Jesus, our faith is empty, it is dead. We might as well go and eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die!
Paul, in I Corinthians 15:13-19, put it this way. He said, "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up-- if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable."
Do you see how foolish our faith would be if it was placed in a man who died and remains dead! But Paul does not leave us in that hopeless situation, for he goes on to say beginning in verse 20 of I Corinthians chapter 15, "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive." I Corinthians 15:20-22.
Now many like to reject the resurrection of Jesus. They say it never happened, it was all a story that the apostles made up. But the resurrection of Jesus was verified by many witnesses. To reject the eyewitness testimonies of the resurrection of Christ would mean we would have to reject every other historical event we were not there to personally witness. Because all historical events are supported or substantiated through eyewitness testimony. Jesus, after He arose, appeared to different people at different times:
1. To Mary - John 20:16.
2. To the two disciples on the road to Emmaus - Luke 24:15.
3. To the 10 disciples - Luke 24:36.
4. To the 11 disciples - John 20:26.
5. By the Sea of Galilee - John 21:1.
6. To 500 brethren - I Corinthians 15:6.
7. To James - I Corinthians 15:7.
8. To Paul - I Corinthians 15:8.
And the resurrection is very important to our faith. It is the heart of the apostolic teaching - Acts 1:21-22. It is a fundamental fact of the Gospel - I Corinthians 15:4. There is no Christian faith without the resurrection - I Corinthians 15:14, 17. By it, Jesus was proven to be the Son of God - Romans 1:4. And faith in the resurrection is essential for salvation - Romans 10:9-10.
Dr. Simon Greenleaf of Harvard University, a very verbal skeptic of Christianity, had written a set of books called "The Laws Of Legal Evidence." He was challenged by his students to apply these books to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He accepted the challenge, and in the process he became a Christian. His conclusion was "The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the best established events of history, according to the laws of legal evidence administered in the courts of justice."
With all that said, lets begin reading in Mark chapter 16, beginning in verse 1, as we have come to resurrection morning.
1. It is interesting to note that the women were the ones coming to the tomb while the men were terrified, hiding themselves. It is now early Sunday morning, and these women started out before sunrise, getting to the tomb as the sun was coming up. Now the reason they came was to pour spices on the body of Jesus. The reason they did this was to help counteract the odor that the dead body would give off and it was also a symbolic expression of love, the devotion they had for Jesus.
2. Now in John chapter 20, we are told that Mary Magdalene, the one who had 7 demons cast out of her, beat the other women to the tomb, she arrived before sunrise. In John 20:1 we are told, "On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb." All that the Lord had done for her caused her to run ahead to get to the tomb of Jesus.
In John 20:2 we are told, "Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." She runs to Peter and John and tells them that someone has stolen the body of Jesus. She is so upset, she cant believe what has happened to the one she loved so much, first he was put to death and now His body was stolen! Thus, she goes to the men for help.
In John 20:3-4 we are told, "Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first." I like this about John. He is probably in his 90's by now and yet he still has the spirit of competition in him. He says that he beat Peter to the tomb, he ran faster than Peter.
As we continue in John we read "And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes." John 20:5-10. As John looks in he "saw" the linen clothes just lying there. The word "saw" speaks of seeing a picture, gathering the facts, but not yet coming to a conclusion.
Peter, losing the race but rushing into the tomb, also "saw" these things and the word that is used here in verse 6 speaks of a person who is trying to develop a theory of what has happened but has not come to a conclusion yet, the person is puzzled by what he sees, he is confused.
Then, as John went into the tomb, "he saw and believed." John was on his way to the right conclusion, but he didnt get it all as yet. Verse 9 tells us that "For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead." And so Peter and John leave at this point.
3. Now Mary, a little slower than Peter and John, finally makes it back to the tomb, and she again is alone. And we read in John 20:11-13, "But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, Woman, why are you weeping? She said to them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." The reason Mary is so upset is she has been separated from her Lord and she is so overwhelmed by that she doesnt seem to be too concerned about these two angels sitting in the tomb. In fact she tells them why she is upset and she is done with them and she is going to turn and walk away from them.
Thus, in John 20:14-15 we read "Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking? She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away." Notice the love she had for Jesus. She was willing to carry the dead body of Jesus back to the tomb, if she only knew where they had taken Him.
Now why didnt she recognize Jesus here? Why did she think He was the gardener? Possibly Jesus bore the marks of the crucifixion and He was so disfigured He didnt look like the person Mary knew. The other point, which applies to all of us today, is that only the Lord can open our eyes so that we may see Jesus! You see, Gods desire is not to hide Himself, but to reveal Himself through His Word by His Spirit!
In John 20:16-17 we read "Jesus said to her, Mary! She turned and said to Him, Rabboni! (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, "I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God."" Mary again begins to turn and leave when Jesus calls to her, "Mary!" The lights go on, she recognizes Jesus. What happened? In John 10:27 Jesus said "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."
She recognized the voice of her Lord and put a death grip on Him. She lost Him once, and she was not about to let go and lose Him again! But Jesus tells her He must go again, this new relationship will not be physical, but internal. Now she was to go and tell the others what she has seen and heard. And in John 20:18 we are told, "Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her." What was their response? We will see that in the last few verses of our study this evening.
1. As the other women are coming to the tomb, they are wondering how they are going to get in, how they are going to roll this huge stone out of the way so they could enter the tomb.
1. Now Matthew gives us some more insight to what transpired here. In Matthew 28:2-4 we are told, "And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men."
So before the women get there, we see a great earthquake, the guards are now frozen in fear and then they will run away. Now Matthew 28:11-15 tells us what happened to these guards. We read "Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, "Tell them, 'His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept." And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will appease him and make you secure. So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day."
These guys came and told the religious leaders what took place, and these religious leaders, instead of believing, made up a story that the disciples stole the body of Jesus while they were sleeping, and that is what these guards were to say if they were questioned. Now understand that if you lost something that you were to guard you could be put to death. But these religious leaders offered these guards lots of money and they would stand up for them so they would not be put to death. And this lie that was told back then, continues on today, many still believe it!
1. Now Luke tells us there were two angels, while Matthew and Mark only speak of the one who is doing the talking. And the point he makes to these women is why are they looking for the living among the dead, Christ has risen!
1. Now these women are sent back to be witnesses, to go and tell them that Jesus is not dead, He is risen! And Peter, go and tell him, he needs to hear it. You see, Peter was discouraged by his own failure, his denying the Lord. But God is going to restore him. And understand this, FIRST YOU MUST COME AND SEE, THEN YOU CAN GO AND TELL! That is the order. It is always that way, see and then tell!
1. Fear can cause you to stop dead in your tracks. But love, faith caused them to overcome their fear and forge ahead telling the other disciples the good news. In Matthew 28:8-10 we are told, "So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, Rejoice! So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me." The Lord is there to comfort, to encourage these women in the work that was before them, and the Lord will do no less for us if we too would only cling to Him!
2. Now remember Mary went to tell the disciples before the other women did. And in verses 9-11 of Mark chapter 16 we see their response of this news.
1. The good news fell on deaf ears. At this point they didnt believe, they only saw a hysterical woman believing what she wanted to believe, that her Lord was alive. The problem was, she was right - the Lord had risen and once again unbelief is a dangerous thing. "Come and see the Lord and then go and tell of Him to others" is the call!