Listen below, or click here to download the audio.
On a recent flight I read an article in the airline magazine about a rather unique watch called a Tikker. It doesn’t just tell you the time – it tells you how long you have left to live. The author of the article, Ben Hamersley writes, “Do you have any idea how long you have left, well, actually? In total? To live? I do. It’s counting down on my wrist as I type this. I have, according to my watch, 44 years, ten months, five days, six hours, ten minutes to go. Even less by the time you read this, of course, and the information is coming to me every time I glance at my wrist. I’m wearing a Tikker watch, calibrated against my date of birth, nationality and other pertinent things, and displaying a forever depleting time left to my, actuarially predicted, statistically average, time of death. The brainchild of Fredrik Colting – a Swedish former gravedigger…” Fredrik obviously had plenty of time on his hands. We all do, and one of the things I love to do on a flight is watch the map of the world going by and the timer ticking down to the arrival time. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have one for our life journey? Fredrik hits the nail in the coffin by observing,
“All we have to do is learn how to cherish the time and the life that we have been given,” they say, “to honour it, suck the marrow from it, seize the day and follow our hearts. And the best way to do this is to realise that seconds, days and years are passing never to come again. And to make the right choices. So here it is, dear reader. We all face the same questions. Is this the best use of my time? Is this what I should be doing? And, while those questions are impossibly hard, they’re worth asking anyway, every time I look at my wrist.” Whether you would ever dream of wearing a Tikker watch or not, the fact is, unless Jesus comes first, we will die one day. But because of what we read in Mark 16, the terror of death is removed. Our question this morning is “What difference did the resurrection of Jesus make?
1. Jesus is Dead and Buried
“It was Preparation Day (the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock.
Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.” (Mark 15:42-47)
Jesus Christ was dead and buried. And now it’s 36 hours later on the Sunday morning. Three grieving women who 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. Things couldn’t have been more dismal. A young life cut short. Jesus’ followers are in hiding, grieving. His killers are after them. There’s a real cause for fear. As they made their way to the grave they discussed how they would move the large stone that lay across the entrance to the tomb.
So this was a grim morning. They experience grief at the loss of their dear friend, fear that His killers might come for them too, 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. Jesus is Alive and Well
“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.
Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” 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. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.’” (Mark 16:1-6)
The women were given two staggering shocks of escalating intensity which not only alarm them but leave them in verse 8, ‘trembling and bewildered,’ 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. There’s at least two reasons why they are in shock. First, they arrive and they find that the stone has been removed. The word for rolled away is literally hurled out. Cosmic power has ripped the stone out. Its been flipped over and on one side. Second they’re shocked because they meet this young man dressed in white, says
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.’”
Now, you may have encountered people who don’t believe in the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus’ body. They refuse to believe what is beyond their personal experience. But as we read Mark 16 we see that the idea of the resurrection did not sit easily with the early morning visitors to the tomb that day either. Bringing life to a three-day old dead body is entirely beyond the realms of human reason and science. But we should not reject the resurrection of the dead on the grounds we can’t do it. It is a mind-blowing truth that we are being told about here in Mark 16. And Mark does not soft sell the honest reality of their response.
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. 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 even though they know His body was really 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 gave them a heart-attack! They were terrified. I want you to see that the Christian message 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.
The Bible does not let us reduce the staggering wonder of Jesus resurrection 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. Jesus was dead and buried. Jesus was alive and well.
3. Jesus is Risen and Reigning
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.” (Mark 16:6)
The women had been worried about the large stone covering the entrance to the tomb. 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 they should have. Jesus spoke repeatedly about the certainty of His resurrection when He spoke of His death:
“He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.” (Mark 8:31)
“He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” (Mark 9:31)
“We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” (Mark 10:33-34)
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 own death and resurrection? The implications of the resurrection of Jesus are staggering! Do you see that if Christ has bodily risen from the dead, life can never be the same again.
The certainty of His resurrection gives us hope. Yes, we will all eventually die and our bodies will disintegrate. But because of the bodily resurrection of Jesus, that is not the end of the journey.
The resurrection of Jesus proves that God had accepted His death in our place. The implications of this truth are not only earth shattering, they are literally life-changing. The resurrection of Jesus proves that God has accepted His death for my sin as full and final payment. The resurrection 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 finally, as we shall see tonight from Acts 1, the reality of the resurrection is demonstrated in the vitality of the Christian Church today. One thing is certain; if Jesus had not risen from the dead we would probably 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. Peter, who had betrayed Jesus and the others think that they will go back to fishing and pick up their lives, it’s agony. But now those three words ‘He has risen’ change everything. They are the words upon which the Christian faith is built. They brought the Christian church into existence. Jesus was dead and buried. Jesus is alive and well. Jesus is risen and reigning. So..
4. Jesus Commands, “Go and tell”
“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.’” (Mark 16:7)
How good to know, that Jesus has literally gone ahead of us. He knows what it is to suffer, to die and to rise. Those who follow him will surely suffer and die too. But we will certainly rise also. The grave is like a door held open by Jesus for those who are His. But why is Peter mentioned by name? Why is he singled out? Think about it. Peter had rebuked Jesus for suggesting he would be crucified in Mark 8. Then after his arrest, Peter had denied even knowing Jesus, not once, but three times in Mark 14 just as Jesus had predicted. But after his failure the Lord Jesus sent him a personal message. “Be sure and tell Peter he’s not left out. He is still on my team.” It clearly worked. The next time he sees Jesus by the lakeside of Galilee he is so excited he jumps out of the boat and swims ashore to be with Jesus.
It’s not every day you meet someone who will give you a second chance – much less someone who’ll give you a second chance every day. In Jesus we find both. For Peter, for you, for me. He went to the cross for you and me.
He paid for our sin, and He lives to forgive those who trust in Him. So this is the message that everyone needs to hear – Jesus is alive. You are going to meet Him, just as He said. But you can, and must meet Him before then, by faith.
Thank Him for dying for you, ask His forgiveness for your sin, and place your life in His hands. Then you wont need a Tikker watch. You can go through life with no fear of death or fear of judgement because He faced it for you. Lets pray.
16:1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (ESV)