Why is it important that Jesus was really dead? Who are the 3 eyewitness groups in the Gospel of Mark who saw that he was really dead? Listen to the Sunday, June 17 sermon here!
The following Sunday (June 24) sermon on the Resurrection of Jesus, “The Son of God Rises from the Dead,” is not available due to a technical recording error. Due to this, the sermon manuscript is available below (for June 24, “The Resurrection of Jesus”):
The Son of God Rises from the Dead
Mark 16:1-8, Preached at Northshire Baptist Church 06.24.18
We have been studying the Gospel of Mark for two school years and I can hardly believe we have reached the resurrection. You probably can’t either! Next week we will wrap up the Gospel of Mark: why we can trust our Bibles, and then Summer in the Psalms through Labor Day.
+In Tewin church yard, a short distance from King’s Cross Station in England, there is a large 4-trunked tree growing out of a grave. The tomb is the gravesite of Lady Anne Grimston. Lady Anne Grimston did not believe in the resurrection, and in fact she was clear that she did not believe in life after death. As she lay dying in her castle-like home she famously told a friend, “I shall live again as surely as a tree shall grow from my body.”
She was buried in a marble tomb, and the grave was marked by a large marble slab and surrounded by an iron railing. Years later the marble slab slipped, then cracked, and a tree began to grow through the slab.
The tree continued to grow, slowly tilting the stone and breaking the marble masonry until today it has surrounded the tomb with its roots and at one point tore the railing out of the ground.
I wish that Lady Anne Grimston could know now what visitors to her tomb can see, that God can not only grow a tree where there was death, but also that God can and does raise the dead to new life.
Just as in many ways I felt that we had reached the top of the mountain in the Gospel of Mark with Jesus dying on the cross, the resurrection of Jesus is equally important. We need to be reminded of the resurrection as Christians all of the time.
The church normally worships on Sunday, what is called “The Lord’s Day” several times in the New Testament, rather than on the Sabbath, because Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday. The resurrection was constantly in the teaching of the Apostles and the early church, as we can see in the book of Acts. And Romans 10:9-10 says that in order to be saved, we need to confess Jesus as Lord AND believe that God raised Him from the dead.
This is why one of my favorite Bible teachers, Alistair Begg says, “Christianity without the resurrection is not Christianity without the final chapter. It’s not Christianity at all.”
One day you and I will die. Part of the gospel is the promise that we will be raised from the dead just as Jesus was raised from the dead. We need more than a metaphorical resurrection of Jesus, because our bodies need more than a metaphorical resurrection. So today, we are going to look briefly at these first 8 verses in Mark 16 and the big idea that Jesus rose from the dead, and then for over half of our time today we will consider why this matters today.
 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Him.  And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.  And they were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?’
First of all, notice who these 3 women are. Last Sunday we looked briefly at who they are in the Bible, and we noticed that here in Mark these are the women who are mentioned at the cross watching Jesus die, two of them are the women who watch Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus bury Jesus, and the 3 women are named again here at the beginning of Mark 16. The only reason that Mark would name all 3 women like this 3 times in such a short space is because he is using them as eyewitnesses to Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. They were probably alive at the time Mark was written and people could still talk with them about this.
And what are they going to the tomb to do? They want to anoint Him. Joseph and Nicodemus had buried Jesus quickly because the Sabbath was beginning, but they had given Him a king’s burial in a rich man’s tomb. Joseph had provided the rolling stone tomb, and Nicodemus had provided 75 pounds of spices. Jews did not embalm, but spices were used to cover the stench of death and decay. And even though Jesus had died Friday afternoon, because of the Sabbath, the women had waited, and now they also wanted to honor Jesus by anointing Him.
By the way—little side note—Jesus had already been anointed by a woman; she had prepared Him for His death since these women would not be able to anoint Him. Remember her in Mark chapter 14, how she broke the alabaster flask of perfume that was worth the cost of 2 minivans today, to show Him her love?
Well, these women thought they were going to anoint Him, and they thought the biggest problem would be who would roll away the stone from the entrance of the tomb…
 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.  And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.  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.
The stone is not a problem because God had it rolled back. And He makes sure the stone is rolled back to show them that Jesus is not there. Remember, angels were all over when Jesus was born. And now angels are all over appearing to people again, at the end of His time on earth to explain what is happening.
Now think for a moment of a loved one who is dead, whose grave you visit now and then to put flowers out. How would you react if you showed up to honor their memory with flowers and their grave was open and empty, and an angel was there to tell you that they are risen from the dead?! My kids insist that they would have screamed, and I think they are right. I would have also. And that is basically what the women do.
The angel says, don’t be afraid. Remember, angels were also telling people to not be afraid when Jesus was born. If the glory of an angel scares people, just think of how awesome the glory of God is!
By the way, don’t let the different points of view from the 4 Gospel writers bother you. One mentions an angel sitting on the stone, another mentions 2 angels in the tomb, and here Mark focuses on 1 angel. These testimonies are not incompatible, but rather remind us again of the truth of the eyewitness testimony as each Gospel writer writes of the same event from a different point of view, just like 4 different eyewitnesses of an accident scene have 4 different points of view and things they will focus on.
Notice in verse 6 that the angel calls Jesus, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus was a real human with a hometown. But then the angel points out, Jesus was crucified. He was dead. But He’s not anymore. He has risen so He’s not here. He invites them to examine for themselves where He was laid, and they would have found His graveclothes a little bit like a mummy’s shell. We especially get the idea from John’s accounting that the wrappings are there not folded like your clothes, other than the head wrapping which was folded to the side, but rather Jesus had come through those wrappings when He rose with His glorified body, just as He would later appear to the disciples through closed doors.
Jesus rose from the dead because He had to.
+Like a beach ball that you are sitting on in the swimming pool, it WILL come to the surface. Jesus HAD to rise from the dead, because He IS life!!
Andrew Peterson, in a song, His Heart Beats:
His heart beats, His blood begins to flow
Waking up what was dead a moment ago
And His heart beats, now everything is changed
‘Cause the blood that brought us peace with God
Is racing through His veins
And His heart beats, His heart beats
He breathes in, His living lungs expand
The heavy air surrounding death turns to breath again
He breathes out, He is word and flesh once more
The Lamb of God slain for us is a Lion ready to roar
And His heart beats
Chorus begins with: “He took one breath and put death to death.”
 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.’
The angel tells the women, go tell His disciples. And Peter. Why is Peter called out specifically? Who had specifically denied Christ 3 times? Peter. Don’t ever think that you are beyond the grace of God. Peter wasn’t. You aren’t either.
“Just as He told you”—Mark 8, Mark 9, Mark 10. Jesus had not only prophesied that He would be specifically crucified, but He had also prophesied that He would rise.
 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.
Why “fleeing,” “afraid,” “trembling,” “astonished”? Is this really how the Gospel of Mark ends? They have just been told that Jesus has risen from the dead, and their first reaction is to run, but as they run their fear will turn to joy, as the other Gospels tell us. Well, you need to come back next week to hear more on that because that is where we will pick up.
Now, I could spend more time on this section of Scripture today, and specifically I could answer any objections that might be out there about Jesus really rising from the dead, how we know this was not made up because people are always making up objections to Jesus’ resurrection.
I am always available to discuss any of those questions or concerns. But we are going to take the Bible at face value, because I believe the Bible is God’s Word and does tell us the truth, but also because I think that the greatest question we need to deal with in all of our hearts this morning is, “SO WHAT?!”
It could be that you have been a Christian for a long time and you believe that Jesus is risen from the dead, but you are asking the question, does it matter today? I know that one day I will rise again because Jesus rose again, but does it matter today or when I go to work tomorrow?
OR, you are not a Christian and part of why you are not a Christian is because you don’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead and in particular you think that even if He did, it doesn’t have any relevance today. So, for the rest of our time this morning, I want us to see 7 reasons we should care that Jesus rose from the dead.
If you’re taking notes, I encourage you to write down these 7 reasons we should care that Jesus rose from the dead.
Believing Christ is risen should:
1)Push us to believe the gospel
When Jesus went to Mary and Martha’s house 4 days after their brother Lazarus died, Martha ran out to meet Jesus and they had a conversation about death and resurrection. At one point, in John 11:25, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,  and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” That’s the question that is left up to each one of us today.
The answer to that question, do you believe that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life, will not change who Jesus is. But it will change who you are.
+It may be that you have heard about Jesus plenty of times, but maybe He has just been a stained glass window to you, or a good teacher or a prophet of some sort. But if you believe that He really rose from the dead, then embrace Him as your Savior and everything will change for you.
I am available after the service to talk with anyone who wants to know more from the Bible about how to be saved. The Bible says we need to know Christ, to rise again to eternal life and Heaven and otherwise we will rise for the judgment and Hell. So don’t put off this decision if you feel God working in your heart today.
But if you’re unsure about talking today, contact me this week if you have questions about Him. You can e-mail me or you can even use a Connection Card that is on the offering box.
Believing Christ is risen should:
2) Cause us to worship
When Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples, saw the resurrected Lord in the Upper Room, Thomas confessed, “My Lord and my God.” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
I have noticed that during the times in my life that I have studied the resurrection the most, or passages about the results of the resurrection for us as believers—that worship has sprung from my heart easily.
If your heart has been tired or hard towards Jesus recently, I challenge you to really study the resurrection in God’s Word. Read all 4 gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection and then use a Bible app or a concordance and look up the words “risen” or “raised” or “resurrection”—and your heart will soar. We don’t worship a dead man. We worship Jesus, the risen Lord Jesus.
Believing Christ is risen should:
3) Move us to minister (1 Cor. 15:58).
1 Cor. 15:58 comes at the end of the longest chapter in the Bible about the resurrection, and after explaining about Christ’s resurrection and the resurrection of believers, he then tells us what we should do about it: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
The reason that you can be steadfast in your faith, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord is because you know that you serve a risen king who is alive today! How are you helping to disciple others and spread the gospel? We can’t sit still if we believe that Jesus is alive.
Believing Christ is risen should
4) Embolden our witnessing.
In Acts chapter 4 we read of Peter and John in the Temple, “And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” This is Peter, who had denied Jesus 3 times during His trial; this same Peter who could not even stand against a servant girl, suddenly is telling the whole Sanhedrin, the same religious leaders who convicted Jesus, that they crucified Jesus but God raised Him from the dead!
Acts 4:13 then explains, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
One thing you and I have in common with everybody is death, and we have the antidote for death, the gospel! We literally have been given the secret of how to be resurrected and not fear death, so why do we get scared of what people will think? Believing that Christ is risen will give us boldness in sharing the gospel.
Believing Christ is risen should:
5) Assure us our sins are forgiven
Romans 5:25, “…who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Jesus died for your sin, but He was raised to show that His death actually accomplished atonement!
The fact that God raised Jesus from the dead shows that His payment for your sin was accepted. There is nothing you can do to improve upon the work that Jesus has done and the salvation that has been accomplished by God, proven in the resurrection of the Son of God. So don’t try to pay for your sins.
If you are trusting in Him, then accept the forgiveness that has been given to you when you were justified by Jesus, made right with God! This will change the way that you view your relationship with God. If all of God’s anger against you and your sin was poured out on Jesus at the cross, then there is nothing left for you to do except to accept Christ’s work on your behalf. The resurrection is like God’s stamp of approval on the fact that you are justified by Jesus alone. You are declared not guilty because Christ was declared guilty and then raised from the dead!
Believing Christ is risen should:
6) Comfort our grieving hearts (1 Thess. 4:13)
The fact that Jesus is risen from the dead brings comfort to our grieving hearts like nothing else can. Many of us in this room have loved ones that we will never see on earth again, and that is why we weep even years after they are gone. Yet we don’t grieve as those who have no hope, because for those who are believers, we know that we will meet again.
1 Thessalonians 4:14 explains, “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep.” In the rest of that 1 Thessalonians 4 passage the Apostle Paul explains that our believing loved ones who are in Heaven now will get their physical bodies back, and if we are on earth when Christ returns, our reunion with our loved ones will not be when we first see them in Heaven, but our first reunion will be in the air when they come back with Christ, their bodies are resurrected, and then we are united with them and our Lord in the air. Listen to 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
Believing Christ is risen should:
7) Make us long for our resurrection bodies.
Romans 8:11 explains, “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
Your resurrection is closely tied to Jesus’ resurrection. Later in Romans 8 it talks about how just like creation groans under the curse, we groan inwardly, knowing that we are not home yet. When we get sick it is a reminder to us that our bodies will be redeemed by our Savior some day, and Romans 8:24 says, “For in this hope we were saved.”
Jesus’ resurrection means that if you are a believer in Christ, you will have a resurrection too. You will get your body back on that great day, but your new resurrection body will be gloriously different. I think mine will be 29 years old. I don’t know what your optimal age was, but we know from 1 Corinthians 15 that our resurrection bodies will be powerful, immortal, glorious, and without sin or the effects of sin.
+Joni Eareckson Tada was in an accident when she was 17, and she has paralyzed from the neck down ever since. Once she was at a convention in which the speaker urged people to get down on their knees and pray. Everyone did except Joni.
Joni says this: “With everyone kneeling, I certainly stood out. And I couldn’t stop the tears.” But then she says that she couldn’t stop crying not because of self-pity, but because the sight of hundreds of people on their knees before God was so beautiful. And then she continued weeping at another thought: “Sitting there, I was reminded that in heaven I will be free to jump up, dance, kick, and do aerobics. And…sometime before the guests are called to the banquet table at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, the first thing I plan to do on resurrected legs is to drop on grateful, glorified knees. I will quietly kneel at the feet of Jesus.”
This is what the resurrection of Jesus does for us. It gives us solid hope.
This is why we say together, “He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!”