March 27, 2016 – Easter Sunday
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
Today we look at the account of Jesus’ resurrection in Mark 16:1-8. Here Mark announced, through an angel, the climax of his telling of the Gospel: “He has risen!” (Mark 16:6). The resurrection was mentioned in 24 of 27 books in the New Testament. In current times, Billy Graham has written: “The entire plan for the future has its key in Jesus’ resurrection.” Why is the resurrection such a big deal?
Reflections on Jesus’ resurrection in Mark 16:1-8:
1. The Resurrection of Jesus is Real!
Mark, an author usually using very few details, took the time to mention specific names of people witnessing Jesus’ death and resurrection. By naming crucial witnesses, Mark gave evidence that this is a verifiable historical event. The resurrection is not just another miracle story.
To the early Church, the resurrection was non-negotiable, the lynchpin of their faith because so many had seen evidence of Jesus after his death. The resurrection of Jesus is the only thing that makes sense about the dramatically transformed lives of the 12 disciples – from skeptical and weak in faith, to empowered, convinced, and even willing to be martyred for the Gospel.
For us, resurrection may be contrary to human experience, but we must believe it was real because so many people witnessed it.
2. The Resurrection Means There Is an “After.”
The disciples had seen Jesus die on the cross, and were convinced of His death. To the three women, it seemed as if all they could do now was show a bit of respect and bring spices for his body (Mark 16:1). However, there is more to Jesus’ story than just His death …
At Jesus’ tomb, the women were shocked when they discovered the stone rolled away (Mark 16:4), and an angel changed everything by announcing, “He has risen!” (Mark 16:5). The story is not over yet. Death is no longer final. The resurrection shows us that there is an “after” – for Jesus and thus for us.
Jesus is the first fruit of the resurrection, raised to eternal life, never to die again. Jesus offers us for all eternity a true “after,” a limitless supply of life without its brokenness.
We get glimpses of this resurrection through occasional brief rescusitations when folks are dying even today, or through temporary miracles, such as mentioned in the Bible, of folks coming back to life (e.g., Jairus’ son or Lazarus). Yet these experiences just give a bit more life, and are not true and permanent resurrections for eternity.
We also get glimpses of the resurrected life as it bleeds over into this life – breaking the chains of oppression and setting people free. The resurrected life begins to affect us now, but spreads far beyond into eternity.
3. The Resurrection Means That We Have a Job to Do.
The end of the book of Mark is a real puzzle, but when it is solved, it calls us to action. The verses in Mark 16:9-20 are not in early manuscripts (see Biblical notes) and probably were simply added by scholars to give a “better” ending to the actual abrupt ending in Mark 16:8, which reads: “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”
By this unsatisfying ending with the women’s silence and fear, Mark provoked believers not to be silent and speak up about the truth of what happened at the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
And so with us! This is no time to be polite or fearful. We need to break our silence and go tell someone the life-changing message of Jesus’ resurrection. It is urgent that we share the Gospel that He died for us so that we could be forgiven and have eternal life.
Open our eyes to the meaning of the resurrection of Jesus, even as we mourn the death of loved ones. Holy Spirit, speak to us with the comfort and encouragement of the resurrection, which bring us the Gospel, the Good News. Help us to tell someone else about the Good News this coming week.
He is risen!