Message from the Pastor
Resurrection - Mark 16:1-7 KJV
1 And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.
Mark 16:1-7 (NLT)
1 Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene and Salome and Mary the mother of James went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body.
2 Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb.
3 On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”
4 But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.
5 When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked,
6 but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body.
7 Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”
Easter started in darkness.
Jesus had been buried quickly but compassionately after he died. With permission from the Roman governor, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, two Jewish religious leaders who quietly followed Jesus, took Jesus’ body down from the cross, carried him to Joseph’s own tomb, packed his body in spices, and wrapped him in linen. Then they rolled the heavy rock door back in place along the channel made for it. They were kind, but they certainly weren’t expecting Jesus to rise again.
The next day Pilate placed guards at the tomb and sealed it so that Jesus’ followers couldn’t steal the body and proclaim that Jesus had risen from the dead. The women prepared to do the only thing that seemed to make sense. After staying with Jesus as he died on the cross, they watched Joseph and Nicodemus bury him.
Then, as soon as the Sabbath (Definition of Sabbath. 1a: the seventh day of the week observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening as a day of rest and worship by Jews and some Christians. b : Sunday observed among Christians as a day of rest and worship) was over at sundown, they went to the market and purchased the spices they needed to care for Jesus’ body and to finish burying him properly. They weren’t expecting Jesus to rise again either. They assumed God’s plan had stalled out.
Jesus’ disciples themselves had lost sight of God’s plan. They scattered when Jesus was arrested. They were afraid and went into hiding. They had almost certainly come to the conclusion that God’s plan had been completely derailed.
We understand. It’s easy to lose sight of God’s plan.
Death makes us think God’s plan is over. When someone dies because they were sick and we prayed for them to get well, their death feels like God has failed and that his plan for them is over. When someone dies because of an accident, it feels like God’s plan for them has been interrupted. When they die because of violence, it feels like God has failed. When we face death, God’s plan may be difficult to see.
Big deals make us think God’s plan is in jeopardy. Big deals are the powerful people who try to control us. They make decisions about us. Occasionally, we find ourselves in the power of a big deal--it may be a boss or a bully or even a blind corporation or a less than kind part of the government. When we find ourselves in the power of a big deal, we feel threatened. Fear easily makes us think that God’s plan is in jeopardy.
Bad days even make us lose sight of God’s plan. On those days when the inbox is fuller than the out box, we can lose sight of God’s plan. On those days when the gossip and controversy whirl around us, we can lose sight of God’s plan. On those days when we’re frustrated by one thing after another, we can lose sight of God’s plan. When one last straw threatens to break the camel’s back, it is so easy to lose sight of God’s plan.
(Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the stuff that’s happening around us, that we forget God’s plan. That’s certainly what happened after Jesus died. God’s big plan to save us faded from mind.
God’s plan was actually still moving.
The women hurried off to the tomb, worrying about the stone in their way. It was dawn on Sunday, the first day of the week. The women who had been with Jesus all along met. They had already purchased and prepared everything they needed to finish burying Jesus properly. But they remembered that Joseph and Nicodemus had rolled the big stone covering the tomb back into place. It is even likely that Joseph and Nicodemus had servants to help them. Little did the women know that since that time, Pilate had sealed the tomb and set guards in place. They wisely wondered how they would get into the tomb to do their work, but they set off anyway.
In the background, God was moving. Even earlier that morning, Jesus had risen from the dead. They had no idea that the body they were hoping to honor would be gone and that their world would be upended. An angel of God came down from heaven when Jesus rose. The angel’s appearing cause the earth to shake. The angel rolled back the stone and sat on it. The guards were terrified at the sight and froze in their tracks before hurrying away into the dawn. The women saw none of that. But when they arrived at the tomb, the stone was already gone. Mark is elegant in what he leaves out, because he only told us what they actually saw. He didn’t fill in the details about how God made his own plan happen. But isn’t that the elegant and exact right thing to do? Because when God’s plan is going on all around us, we rarely see all the pieces of his plan to save us falling into place.
The women met an angel who told them to get on the move with God’s plan. The angel, possibly the same one who rolled the stone away, was no longer sitting on the stone. He was inside the tomb. He was still imposing and dazzling and startling. When the women went into the open tomb, he was not what they expected to find. They expected to find Jesus’ body! Instead, the angel told them not to be afraid. Then he told them that Jesus had risen. He invited the women to see where Jesus had been laid and to go and tell the disciples what had happened. Finally, he told them to go back to Galilee, their home, because Jesus would meet them there. They had much work to do. Jesus was risen, and God’s plan was still in place.
Resurrection accelerated God’s plan.
A climax is highest point of tension in the plot of a story. Stories follow a pattern. The plot starts out slowly, building. We learn things, and things happen.
The story is like a rock someone is pushing up a hill. Higher and higher you climb as things happen. Then, the climax is the point when the tension is highest in the story. There is a question about what will happen and how things will turn out. Then, suddenly, the question is answered. It’s as if the stone is finally sitting at the top of the hill, but the plot keeps moving. The story suddenly rushes downhill. Things are still happening, but they happen quickly, until everything is over, and the story comes to an end. It’s like the stone is rushing down the other side of the hill, gathering speed, until it comes to rest again at the bottom.
The Resurrection is the climax of history. Throughout the Old Testament and even the beginning of the New Testament, everything pushes the stone of the plot of history up the hill. There is a question that lingers over it all. Will God defeat sin, death, and evil so that his people and creation itself will be saved? Or will his people fail him entirely? Worse, will evil win? When Jesus died on the cross, I’m sure that from a certain point of view, it looked like evil had won and that God had lost.
That could not have been further from the truth. On the cross, Jesus was doing battle with sin. And in the Resurrection, Jesus obliterated sin and defeated death and evil along with it.
The big question is answered. God has already won! The Resurrection accelerated God’s plan. The stone tipped over the top and began rolling down the hill the day Jesus rose from the dead. God’s final and complete victory is certain.
Now God is simply tying up loose ends.
God’s plan is still moving. I want you to think about fog for just a moment this morning. Fog covers everything in a mist. When the fog is thick, sometimes it’s difficult to see much farther than the hand in front of your face. It’s certainly impossible to see very far. The horizon is impossible to see. A fog can be intimidating, because you never know what is in the mist exactly. But even when the fog is at its thickest, usually above the fog is a clear blue sky and sunshine. From above you can see the horizon. And when the fog begins to clear, you can make out details below.
Behind me has been a fog hiding something truly significant, the harbor in Sydney. Beneath the fog in this short video was the iconic Sydney opera house, a thriving harbor, and a bustling city of over 4 million people. It’s amazing what the fog can hide.
We sometimes live in the fog. Mist comes rolling into our lives. The mist comes in the form of death, big deals, and bad days. When the fog rolls in, we have a hard time seeing God’s plan. We lose focus on God’s plan, and that is when we start to lose hope.
In the Resurrection, God has already overturned sin, and he is regularly breaking the chains of sin in our lives. One day he will break the chain of sin forever. God is bearing down on evil, and its defeat is certain. God is even coming for death. One day death itself will be destroyed forever. In Jesus’ Resurrection, we get a long, hard look at the future waiting for us all and for creation itself.
God is saving us! “Save Us.” We needed to be saved from sin and death and living for the wrong purpose, Jesus’ death saved us from our sin, and Jesus’ resurrection launched the end of God’s plan where he will save us completely forever. That is amazing, and we can see God’s plan so clearly this morning.
When the fog rolls in, let’s remember what we knew to be true when the sky was clear and the sun shining. God’s plan is unfolding all around us. The stone is rolling down the hill and picking up steam. One day the fog will burn off, and we will see the truth--God is saving us.