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He Has Risen; He is Not Here April 5, 2015

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Mark 16:1-8

Easter Sunday

April 5, 2015


Focus:  God did as He said…He is Risen.

Function:  That the hearers share the good news…He is Risen indeed, alleluia!

Structure:  This is the historical situation in the text…these are the meanings for us now.


He Has Risen; He is Not Here


Christ is Risen!  He is Risen indeed, Alleluia!  How do you know that?  Were you there that morning?  Did you get to see the risen Lord?  Did you get to speak with Him, or touch the marks in His hands and His feet?  Were you there to witness the tomb burst open and the crucified Christ raised from the dead?  How can we say with any certainty that it happened at all?

In a sense, that’s precisely how Mark decided to end his gospel.  Right where our gospel reading stops.  No resurrection appearance, no visions of the risen Lord, no accounts of anyone seeing Jesus at all.

But it’s style, it’s a technique.  Think about it.  You’re watching your favorite TV show.  They’ve already announced that tonight is the season finale.  You’re interested, you’re hooked.  You like the show and you want more.

And so tonight’s episode begins.  And the plot twists and turns.  The guy you thought was the good guy, suddenly reveals that he’s been evil the whole time.  And then, at 7:58pm, right before the credits, your favorite character on the show gets put into a terrible spot, and that now evil guy pushes him off a cliff.  Cue the credits.

You’re hooked, you’re interested, and by dangling your favorite part of the show off the edge of a cliff, the producers have you ready for the next season of the show.  You have to know what happens!  It’s the cliffhanger ending and it’s been around for a long time.

As Mark was writing his gospel, his audience wasn’t the same as the other three gospel writers.  He’s writing to the Roman population.  He’s creating an action packed account of Jesus’ ministry in Roman territory.  He sets it up with the preaching, the teaching, the authority, the miracles Christ did in His life.

It’s also the shortest of the gospel accounts, because Mark knows that his hearers aren’t giving him the benefit of the doubt.  This isn’t the fourth Transformers movie where you’re simply going to watch it because of how you really liked the first three.  The Spirit is working through Mark to share the gospel, to work faith in the hearts of the Roman people, but it has to be powerful and concise.

And so we’ve reached 7:58pm.  The end of the gospel is coming up.  Christ has been crucified.  And it’s no coincidence the importance placed on the centurion at the foot of the cross.  Who gets to call Jesus the Son of God?  A Roman.  Not the disciples, not one of the many different Mary’s, but one of the Roman soldiers who crucified Him.

And we get the account of Jesus’ burial.  And then we’re told about one last event.  On the morning after the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome go out to the tomb.  They went with spices in hand, thinking they could put them on Jesus to help mask the smell of decay for a few more days.

As they walked along the road, they remembered just how large the stone was that sealed the entrance to His tomb.  And they started to discuss together how they could possibly move it, or who might be able to move it for them.

And then they arrive and the stone’s already out of the way.  And instead of finding Jesus inside the tomb, they find a young man, dressed in white, and they were alarmed.  Now if you’ve been following along, or know more about the Scriptures, you’ll know this isn’t a man at all.  Because who appears to men, dressed in white, and always has to start by saying something along the lines of “Do not be afraid?”

Interestingly enough, fun little nuggets like that in the entertainment world are called Easter eggs.  A little bonus, something a little extra for someone who really knows the story inside and out.  Or, something you can pick up by reading or watching it again.

So this young man, whom they’ve never met, speaks to them and says, “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He has risen; He is not here.  See the place where they laid Him.  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.”

Unlike today, non-Christian writings of that day don’t try to deny the empty tomb.  They admit it happened, they have no problem saying that Jesus’ body really was gone.  It was a fact.  So instead, if you were to read the writings of Jews or Greeks in that time, you’d find them going out of their way to come up with other ways it could have happened.  His disciples stole His body and it just ended up buried somewhere else.  It was a political move trying to scare the leaders of the day.  Or even some that said it was a work of sorcery.

But the tomb is empty, and the three women don’t know what to do.  And so trembling from fear of what this could possibly mean, but also astonished because someone just told them that Jesus is alive, they left.  Cue the credits.

That’s how Mark ends his gospel.  No resurrection appearances, no denial of conspiracy theories, it just ends.  Knowing that God always has a plan, and that He works through His people, this was an intentional cliffhanger.  Some Romans were hooked.  They were interested, they wanted to know more.  And so they’re going to find out.  They’re going to go to the empty tomb.  They’re going to speak to the soldiers.  They’re going to seek out Christ’s disciples.  They’re going to ask questions, they’re going to hear testimony.  They’re going to be witnessed to about the resurrected Lord.

In many ways, Mark’s gospel ends the same way we live our lives.  We haven’t seen the resurrected Christ.  We’re in the same boat as the three women, the testimony of one man, or angel.  And then we’re told to go and share this good news with the world.  Go and tell.

And we often find ourselves fearing as well.  Fearing how people will respond to us if we try to say that Jesus is Lord of all the earth.  Fearing what our friends and family might think of us if we live the life we’ve been called to, loving our neighbors and sacrificing, giving of ourselves for them.

And we sometimes tremble, worrying about the future.  Wondering deep down if our faith is really true.  Do we believe in the true God, or is this just another story?  We’re uncertain about what the future holds, about heaven, hell, a new earth.  What will life be like?  And sometimes we wonder if we’ll see our loved ones again, or if there even is something after this life.

This is where I think we benefit from Mark’s gospel and even his cliffhanger ending.  You see, there’s so much more here.  Throughout Mark’s gospel, Jesus was telling His disciples what would happen.  He told them where they’d find a donkey, and how they’d be asked what they were doing when they were untying it.  He told them, that when they entered the city, they would be greeted by a man with a watering jar.

He told them that that man would already have a room prepared for the Passover.  He told them one of the twelve would betray Him.  He told them He’d be arrested, and ultimately killed.  And with all of these things, Mark says it was “just as He told you.”

And that’s the power of what the angel says to the women at the tomb.  This isn’t my testimony, Jesus Himself told you that on the third day, He would rise again.  And He has, just as said He would.  Go, find Him.

And then we know from the other accounts of Scripture, we know from Matthew, Luke, John, and Acts that many of Jesus’ disciples had the honor of seeing the resurrected Lord.  Paul even tells us in 1 Corinthians that “He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive” (1 Cor. 15:6).  That matters, for the Romans, and for us.  They could ask, they could hear, they could see the witness of many.

And it has only grown with time.  We shouldn’t discount the great men and women of the faith these past two thousand years.  Men like Paul, Timothy, and John.  Women like Priscilla, Lydia, and Candice.  Early church fathers like Augustine, Origen, and Tertullian.  Others like Martin Luther, Philip Melanchton, and C.F.W Walther.  Even many of the Popes.

We truly have a wealth of witnesses.  Your parents, and their parents, and their parents before them.  Billions of men and women over two millennia who have witnessed and testified to a living Christ.

But it’s more than people, it’s more than the church, it’s the gospels and the Scriptures themselves.  We have the Word, and that alone would be enough.  And that’s why Mark’s gospel ended with a witness simply saying, “He has risen…just as He told you.”

That’s why we don’t need to fear, because the Lord’s Word is certain.  That’s why we don’t need to worry about the future, because He has told us.  Just because Mark used a common technique, this isn’t entertainment.  This isn’t just some story.  This is life.

That one statement, “He has risen,” is filled with so much beauty and certainty.  In those three little words, we receive the hope of salvation, that God would intervene and rescue us from the powers of sin, death, and the devil.  In those three little words, we receive victory over our sins, Christ has forgiven us.  In those three little words, we don’t have to wait for the last day, because we already have these gifts.  This hope of salvation isn’t some far off future thing.  It’s already happened.  It’s already now.  Forgiveness, salvation, and life are ours in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Christ is risen!  He is Risen indeed, Alleluia!!




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