Every person can grow in their relationship with God by understanding the facts revealed in this passage.
One of my favorite illustrations is about a pastor giving a children’s sermon on Easter Sunday morning. “Can anyone tell me what happened on Easter?” Silence. The pastor, persisting, asked again politely, “Now I know that someone here knows what happened on Easter a long, long time ago.” Again….silence. “Finally, visibly frustrated, the pastor asked more forcefully, “SOMEBODY PLEASE tell me about Easter Sunday!” Finally, little Johnny (never at a loss for words) tentatively raised his hand. “THEY KILLED JESUS!” “That’s right,” said the pastor, “And then what?” “They put him in the ground!” (Johnny spoke with more confidence). “RIGHT!” the proud pastor affirmed, “and then what?” “…and he was there for three days!” “And then what?” “and on Easter he comes out of the ground!” “Wonderful!” the pastor joyfully agreed. And then Johnny continued….”And if he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of bad weather……”
In the midst of bunnies and eggs, it’s easy to forget the real meaning of this holy day. My guess is that you are here today because you know the real story of Resurrection Day and you just want to hear it again…. You’ve come to the right place.
I want to give you some facts from the first Easter found in Mark 16.
Fact I. Jesus died
A. This may sound like a stupid statement, but let’s consider what these women were doing. They were headed to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus and to put some spices on it. Jesus had died just prior to the Sabbath so there was no time to prepare his body properly for burial. So we find these women heading to the tomb to do this task early on Sunday morning. His body had probably been cleaned and quickly placed in the tomb. By anointing his body and wrapping it in spices it would change the smell produced by dead and decaying bodies. They had some things they thought should be done before he would get too smelly.
B. These women were headed to the tomb because they were convinced that Jesus was dead. They had witnessed his death on the cross, and they might have been involved in his burial. Now they are going to the grave to complete this process. We assume that it is an angel that greets the women and he affirms that Jesus indeed had died. In v. 6 it says that he was crucified. He had been executed in one of the most barbarous forms of execution. Some have tried to claim that Jesus did not really die, this and other information that we have would seem to indicate that Jesus did die.
C. It is a fact that Jesus died. Some of the reasons that Jesus died was so that a perfect sacrifice could be made for each one of us. In order for sin to be forgiven there had to be the shedding of blood. Jesus was sinless making him the perfect sacrifice for all time. He died so the sins of all people could be forgiven. Once our sins have been forgiven a door is opened that gives us access to God. God is a perfect God and we cannot enter into his presence without first being forgiven of our sin.
D. That is not a problem since Jesus died for us. Each one of us can have access to God. We can know the forgiveness of sins because of the death that Jesus died. His death was not pointless. His death was important for each one of us. There is no one who can say, I am too bad for God to accept me, and there is no one who can say, I am too good I don’t need God. Every person who has walked on this earth is in need of Jesus Christ and his forgiveness.
Fact II. Jesus rose
A. Emotionally this had to be a confusing time for these women. They had grown to have a great deal of admiration for Jesus Christ. On Friday they had watched him by executed. That had to be an extremely sad time for them. Now at they are going to prepare his body for burial, they find that the tomb is opened and the body is gone. Perhaps they thought the body had been stolen. Maybe they realized he had risen. Now there is a glimmer of hope, hearing that he had risen from the dead. This man makes the statement in v. 6 “He is risen! He is not here.” This could be very refreshing.
B. Easter is the day that we celebrate the resurrection. Jesus died a death that needed to be done. He needed to be a sacrifice. He also demonstrated his great power in his resurrection from the dead. There were some who came back to life, after Jesus touched them or prayed for them. We even see that among others. It was without the assistance of one of the Apostles or a prophet or some other man of God. It was through the strength of Jesus, God in the flesh that he raised from the dead. These circumstances are something that is unique to Jesus Christ. No one can claim to have done what Jesus Christ did. He rose from the dead in a way that no one ever has or ever will until the end times.
C. The religious leaders thought that if they could get rid of Jesus, they would be done with him. Instead, Jesus rose from the dead, walked on the earth for another forty day, and we are still talking about him 2000 years later. They tried to get rid of Jesus, but he could not be stopped. Even when they killed him, he continued to work and he is still working today.
D. That makes Jesus stand out among all of the other religious figures in History is the fact that he rose. Other religious leaders came and made grand claims, but it is only Jesus Christ who rose from the dead. All of the others died and stayed dead. He stands out among religious figures. He is different. He is a savior who is worthy of our trust and respect. He is different from all of the others.
Fact III. Jesus was seen
A. I was talking with a man the other day. He was asking me about the final game of the NCAA playoffs. He really just wanted me to know that he had gone to Detroit to watch the game. He immediately justified his decision. It was his team playing and it was just over an hour away. He could hardly pass up that opportunity. All of the circumstances were right for him to go watch this game.
B. In v. 7 of this passage the man in the tomb tells the women to give a message to the disciples. It is an opportunity too great for these women to pass up. ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’" When the disciples go into Galilee they will see Jesus. At this point the only evidence they have is an empty tomb and the testimony of a man they don’t even know. They have not seen Jesus, so all they have is second hand information and speculation. They might be able to put the pieces together and realize that this is what Jesus was going to do, but they do not have anything solid. They have not seen Jesus up and walking around.
C. If we were to keep going we would find that the disciples do go and meet Jesus. They have the opportunity to see him face to face. They don’t just have the testimony of these women they get to see Jesus, and Thomas the doubter is even given the opportunity to feel the wounds that had been inflicted upon Jesus when he was crucified. Actually Jesus was seen by over 500 people after he rose from the dead. It is not just the testimony of a few, but many hundreds can testify to the fact that Jesus was alive.
D. This serves as a tremendous amount of evidence that the resurrection is not just a hoax. It is really powerful evidence that Jesus really rose from the dead. People who knew Jesus well saw him after the resurrection as well as people who had never seen him before. This is positive proof that Jesus really did rise. He was not confined to the grave for all eternity.
Fact IV. Jesus warned
A. It seems that those who were closest to Jesus really had a hard time catching onto what Jesus was doing or talking about. On Wednesday night the prayer meeting group looked at the passage where Jesus and his disciples are on a boat when a powerful storm comes up. The disciples get very concerned for their safety and they ask Jesus to join them in their panic. Jesus rebukes them because they lacked faith. They didn’t seem to get it. Once again in this passage following Jesus death and resurrection Jesus warns them that they had been warned that this would happen.
B. I am sure there had to be times when Jesus was thinking when will these guys ever catch on? Even at the end after Jesus’ death and resurrection they are mourning because they did not catch on that he was going to rise. He let them know at his last visit to the temple that they could destroy the temple, speaking of his body, and he would cause it to rise again in three days. It was one of those things that they just did not catch onto until after it had happened. Jesus really let everyone know that he would rise from the dead. He let people know what was going to happen, but they did not always catch on right away. They needed to experience it from the other end. After everything was done they would catch on.
C. I think it is safe to say that most people were shocked when Jesus was crucified and it was probably equally shocking when he rose from the dead. It was not anything that they had perceived would be a part of Jesus’ life. However, from where we are today we can look back and see that Jesus knew this was coming, and God knew it was coming. They had a perfect understanding of what was in store for Jesus. It might have been a surprise to the followers and the observers, but it was a part of the plan for Jesus Christ and God the father. It was not a surprise to them. In v. 7 Jesus even says, “There you will see him just as he told you.” Jesus knew this was a part of his life.
D. Jesus was not someone who was just bumbling through life without a clue to what was going on. He knew exactly what his life was about and what it would become. If you are going to choose someone to follow, do you want to follow someone who has things pretty well figured out, or would you rather follow someone who is guessing his way through life. I am guessing that most of us would like to follow someone who knows where they are going, and Jesus has proved that over and over again. He knows who he is, and he knows where he is headed. There is security in Jesus Christ.
Easter might be a time when we get together with family and friends. For kids it might be a time for candy and presents. At its core Easter is about Jesus Christ and his resurrection from the dead.
We would like to forget the nails. The nails are not a pleasant part of death of Jesus Christ. Our sin is another unpleasant part of the Easter message. Jesus did this so that all of us could have a right relationship with God.