Memphis Belle

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Mark 15:42-47

“And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. 44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead:  and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. 45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre. 47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.”

Mark16:1-20

“And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away:  for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted:  Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified:  he is risen; he is not here:  behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee:  there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. 8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed:  neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid. 9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. 10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. 12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it unto the residue:  neither believed they them. 14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. 15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.  Amen.”  

 

The Burial Of Jesus--“If A Man Dies, Will He Live Again?”

 

“Open your Bibles, if you would, to Mark chapter 15.  We’re going to continue where we left off last week, which is in verse 42.  Let’s begin in verse 42 of chapter 15 of the book of Mark, “Now when evening had come, because it was the preparation day, that is the Day before the Sabbath [not the weekly Sabbath in this particular instance, but the High Sabbath, or 1st Holy Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread] Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent counsel member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went into Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  Pilate marvelled that he was already dead.  And summoning the centurion, he asked him if he had been dead for some time.  So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.  And he brought fine linen, took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and he laid him in a tomb which has been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.  And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where he was laid.” (verses 42-47)  Last week we saw him on the cross, this week, as we get started here, he’s still on the cross but it’s just a few hours later. [this is late Wednesday afternoon 14th Nisan, 30AD, just hours before sunset and the beginning of the High Sabbath, the 1st Day Of Unleavened Bread (see https://unityinchrist.com/lamb/lastsix.htm]  And Mark now focuses in on this guy named Joseph.  He’s from the area of Arimathea.  Now it says here that he’s a prominent member of the counsel that made the decision in the first place to put Jesus on the cross.  He is part of this same group, amazingly.  We learn a little bit more about him from the other gospels.  He’s a counsel member, but we learn in Luke that as a member of the counsel, he did not approve, he did not go along with them doing this to Jesus.  He did not at all approve that decision.  Although we don’t have any sense that he tried to sway them another way, but he did not approve of it.  We read that in Luke.  We read in Matthew that this Joseph is wealthy, he’s a rich man.  But right here you see also that he’s a guy that’s waiting for the kingdom of God.  He’s got the eternal perspective.  And I believe in that, that’s why he’s there with Jesus getting his body and beseeching Pilate for it.  Luke says that Joseph was a good and just man.  We learn that about him.  But Matthew says that he’s one of the followers of Jesus.  He’s part of the same group of religious leaders, but he’s a follower of Jesus.  And then John adds a little more insight to that, he says though he was a “secret disciple,” a follower of Jesus, but secretly, not really telling the other folks what was going on in his heart and in his life.  But something has transpired now here as Jesus has died, that he suddenly got tremendous courage and boldness.  And he goes to Pilate, as you read in those verses, and requests the body of Jesus.  The reason why he does that is he understands that it’s just before the Sabbath [this High Sabbath, 1st Holy Day of Unleavened Bread], there’s been a petition to Pilate to remove the bodies by hastening the death of the guys on the cross, to take them off and get them off before the Sabbath day [which started at sundown, so they didn’t have much time].  And Joseph understands that if he doesn’t intervene here, they’re going to take Jesus’ body, and they’re going to just toss it into a common grave for criminals--all the more just a statement of his humiliation and just a degrading thing to do.  So Joseph now is just grieved by this awful act these other folks have done, he is burdened, so he goes now in courage, follower of Jesus in secret, but now taking a great risk at a very unpopular time.  He goes boldly and requests the body of Jesus--taking a final stand for truth and at the same time just an expression of his admiration for Jesus, he takes this risk.  Verse 44, Pilate is amazed that Jesus is already dead.  People on the cross take a while to die.  He died so quickly [by comparison to most].  But the centurion confirms this very fact.  And with that, Pilate grants Joseph the body.  Now in the Greek, you don’t necessarily learn that in the English, but the word ‘body,’ there’s two different words in the Greek for the word ‘body,’  One of the words is “soma.”  Joseph asks for the “soma,” but Pilate gives him the “petoma.”  The difference, “soma” is a word of tenderness and care, it speaks very tenderly, and actually it refers to the total person’s personality.  So Joseph goes, ‘I want Jesus, I want the person, Jesus, give me Jesus.’  But Pilate gives him the “petoma,” which refers to just the corpse, carcass.  You see the difference there in just Joseph’s expression [in the Greek].  Joseph goes to the cross, just imagine, and cautiously begins removing the nails from Jesus’ hands and his feet, and takes down the body.  He then wraps the body in some linen that he had brought.  And we know from John 19 that this other Pharisee, this other religious leader, Nicodemus, the two of them--amazingly--are the guys who stand up at this moment.  He comes and joins Joseph.  [It is said, maybe in Josephus, that Gamaliel ended up taking in Nicodemus because he was kicked out of the Sanhedrin and the temple, left without an income, penniless.]  And he brings with him this mixture of aloe and myrrh, a tremendous amount, enough that you’d use it for a burial of royalty.  But Nicodimus comes and joins Joseph, and begins to prepare Jesus’ body for burial, but that’s interesting too, these religious leaders, two of these Pharisees would stand up at this moment.  Meanwhile the disciples are scattered.  You know, I don’t know about you, at least me, I can’t help but wonder, what is Joseph thinking as he’s doing this?  He’s a follower of Jesus, and he’s now taking his dead body off the cross, and he’s preparing it for burial.  I can’t help wonder about the conversation that maybe took place between Joseph and Nicodemus as they spent this time preparing Jesus’ body.  What are the things they thought?  What are the things they said?  Jesus was dead.  He was dead, as when a person dies today, the life leaves the body.  Jesus was dead, his bodily systems have shut down, meaning his body has begun to stiffen.  And you know those life-colors that we have, those hues that we have, leave, and then those milky bluish hues come in.  His body is dead.  Jesus is dead.  These guys are convinced he is dead, because they prepare him for burial.   You can quickly discern if a person is sleeping as opposed to somebody who is lying there dead.  People have told me, they’ve walked into rooms and someone has died in their family and immediately, just by looking, they could tell that they died.  They’re dead, you can tell.  No doubt, Nicodemus and Joseph know he’s dead, and they’re preparing him for burial.  They take his body and they wrap his legs, wrap his arms, they wrap his torso, they wrap and they wrap—they’re working all around preparing him for burial.  As they’re doing that I guess Nicodemus is probably applying this mixture.  And I’ve read in some sources that this mixture of aloe and myrrh with the linen would form like a cast, it would harden after some time--forming a cast around the body.  They know that they’re working with a dead body.  They know it.  And clearly, from their action, they do not expect what’s going to happen in a few days.  But I wish they could have stayed in the tomb a few more days.  You know, the next night, the body got all stiffer, less life, clearly very dead.  Just the processes that are kicking in are kicking in Jesus’ body, he’s dead.  The next day, the same way, the next night [for three days and three nights], and then Sunday morning, most amazingly [actually late Saturday afternoon, exactly 3 days and 3 nights, 72 hours after he died and was put in the tomb].  I don’t know, maybe I can picture it.  Maybe there’s a flinch, a twitch, and suddenly this body that’s been sitting there for three days, the chest cavity just begins to rise as Jesus took in air, his eyes begin to flicker and he opens his eyes, sits up and stands up.  These guys didn’t expect that to happen.  They had a dead body.  They loved Jesus, the person of Jesus.   But they were preparing a dead body.  They never even realized what was going to happen in a few days.  I wish that they could have, so we would have their reaction as this body, this dead body began to come back to life.  You know, we’re a young church, so we haven’t had many people die.  So in the four years that I've been here [1995 to 1999] I’ve only done one funeral and did it this week.   So I had this opportunity to go and minister in that type of situation.  And we don’t expect when we go to funerals for that person in that casket to come back to life.  [But we all know they will, in the 1st resurrection to immortality described by Paul in 1st Corinthians 15:49-54, see https://unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16.htm]  And these guys don’t expect it.  They don’t understand the prophecies about Jesus.  Job in his writing, the writing we have about Job, chapter 14, verse 14, Job poses the question, he says, “If a man dies, shall he live again?”  He poses that question.  And why does he pose that question?  Job is going through tremendous suffering.  Job had just earlier heard a report that his ten beloved children had all suddenly been killed.  And not only that, he had financial disaster--and physical affliction.  He is suffering at a tremendous capacity, and in that he says, “God, if a man dies, shall he live again?”  And in saying that Job is seeking comfort in the realization that if a man dies, he does live again.  I find hope in that.  I find comfort in that, that there’s a hereafter--that there’s a better life coming.  There’s a life where I can see potentially my children again.  But also, that this isn’t it.  Because if this is it, this is most miserable, this is most pitiful, this is harsh if this is it.  This week I did a funeral, but for some reason, I’ve been surrounded by death [and as I type this transcription, the Washington “sniper’s” have just been apprehended.  A year and two months ago, three thousand Americans died in the Twin Trade Towers when two hijacked airliners were flown into them].  So I’ve been thinking about it.  I received just some very hard reports to hear.  And I’m not sure why, but two different 16-year-old girls, I received reports this week, one via email from a neighbor of a family, and another was the friend of my niece, so my mother called me.  Two different 16-year-old girls in different parts of the country, driving their automobiles this last week, accidentally took a life of another person.  The first girl, it was her little sibling that was killed.  And you know, I got this email and I said “God, how can you allow that to happen?”  This family, what are they going to do?  What is this girl going to do?  And then just a couple days later my Mom calls me and says “We got to pray.”  My Mom’s real burdened.  “My niece's friend” she says “this girl just ran over a man walking his dog, blinded by the sun and didn’t see him.”  And you’re like, “How can God allow that to happen?”  You know, if I took the narrow focus of man, the human plane, and I just look at life that way, it is harsh, man.  It is empty.  It’s hopeless.  But you know if I allow God, with this Scripture that we read here, and if I allow him to step me back for a moment and get a broader perspective, his perspective, suddenly things take a whole other dimension.  And that’s what Job was saying, “If a man dies, does he live again?”  If he does, I can take great hope and comfort in that.  When you begin to see God’s dimension, man there’s just hope that just begins to surge into your heart no matter how dark the hour.  Job was pressed beyond understanding.  Job was in suffering that I cannot even comprehend.  In fact, I would say for anyone probably here today in this room, if you were in Job’s shoes, you would probably be in the deepest of depression.  But incredibly, as you read through Job, starting with chapter 14 on, you read on, you start to sense that this guy starts to find strength in the midst of what’s going on.  And then, wonderfully it’s very clear that he’s got strength that’s going to keep him from falling.  As he says in Job chapter 19, he says “For I know that my Redeemer lives.”  He says that.  Hope beautiful and prophetic for a man to say that.  That’s the oldest book in the Bible, and he says “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and he shall stand at last on the earth, and after my skin is destroyed, after I die, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold and not another, how my heart yearns within me." (Job 19:25-27)    He goes and gives himself the answer, and you just see the strength.  Many commentators say, as you read through the book of Job, you see this man struggling, this man struggling even with the providence of God, ‘God, how can you allow this to happen?’--and then he starts to take this hope and strength, and he becomes a different man, as you read through the rest of the book of Job.  Matthew Henry puts it this way.  “This hope quieted his spirit, stilled the storm, and having here cast anchor within the veil, his mind was kept steady from this time forward.”  And he just kept steady, because he said ‘I know that my Redeemer lives, and I have great hope and comfort.’  If this grave that we read about here in Mark would have remained as Joseph and Nicodemus expected, there would be no reason for you and I to be here this morning.  Paul says that very clearly.  He says, ‘If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.  If he did not rise, it’s a big empty useless thing.  And life is hard, man.  Eat, drink and be merry, that’s all you’ve got.’ (taken from 1st Corinthians 15:14-19)  But I believe with Job, you and I can stand here so confidently and say “I know that my Redeemer lives.”  And I know he lives, and with that I think of Jesus’ word, in John 14, he says, “Because I live, you will live also.”  Absolutely, especially Christ, and that’s a great hope.  [To see how Christians are to be resurrected back to life, but this time to immortality, which “flesh and blood cannot inherit,” log onto: https://unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16.htm]  Therefore after we die we’re going to see God with our very eyes.  [some denominations believe we see God only after we’re resurrected to immortality, some other denominations believe that at death our “spirits” remain conscious and go to heaven to be with God until the resurrection to immortality, when we get our immortal bodies--so it’s a matter of whether our spirits, souls, remain conscious or unconscious after the death of the body, as to how soon we will actually see God--which is a very gray area in the Scripture (have to die to find out, but for further discussion and some alternate views on this, see https://unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm)]  What a living hope, the hope that just makes your heart yearn for that day.  In fact, Job says, “Lord, this is hard stuff I am going through, put me in the grave, hide me in the grave right now, end this old misery, set the hour now, when I’m going to stand right before you.”  He says “I yearn for it, with life hereafter with you.”  Do you feel today that there’s things that weigh heavy upon you, darkness around you, maybe darkness in others around you, just heavy things that do come?  Maybe you’re going, “God, how can you allow that?--How can you allow that God?  It just doesn’t seem right.”  Well, know, be reminded that your Redeemer’s body didn’t remain in the tomb for long.  He lives.  That’s the truth.  Take hope.  And if he lives, he lives, take hope.  And if he lives, you will live also.  That means there’s better things coming, that means that life here on earth is but a faint whisper, but eternal glory waits for us.  For I know that our Redeemer lives.

 

Those Poor Roman Guards--The Two Mary’s & Salome Are First At The Tomb

 

Let’s look at chapter 16,  “Now when the Sabbath was past [this would be the weekly Sabbath, Saturday], Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices that they might come and anoint him.  Very early, on the first day of the week [Sunday] they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.  And they said among themselves, ‘Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?’” (Mark 16:1-3)  We learn from Matthew’s account, we don’t have it here, but Matthew’s account, the previous day on Saturday [some believe this Sabbath being talked of in Matthew is the High Holy Day, the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread, being a Thursday in 30AD] the Pharisees and religious leaders, they go to Pilate and they say to Pilate, they say ‘Pilate, this man Jesus said that he was going to raise to life after three days.  Please, Pilate, seal the tomb.  Seal the tomb so that his disciples cannot come and steal the body, and then in stealing the body go around and telling everybody that he raised to life.’  So they share that with Pilate, and Pilate grants them that.  In fact, he gives them a Roman Guard, and he allows them to go and seal the tomb.  A Roman Guard is not one guard.  A Roman Guard is sixteen killing-machines, these Roman soldiers were killing machines.    They had these short two-foot swords that had an edge on both sides.  And they were trained, they were invincible in one-on-one combat, they would just slice & dice.  Not only that, as an extra motivator, if they failed on their mission, they would be executed.  If a Roman soldier fell asleep on the job, it was common for someone to grab a torch and light his clothes on fire as he lay there.  If one fell asleep, it wasn’t uncommon that the entire Guard, all sixteen of them, were executed.  These guys were killing machines, and all the more they had motivation to be successful in their mission.  So they stand now in front of this tomb.  And then they put a Roman seal on the tomb.  This seal, if anybody touched this seal they would be executed.  But here, it’s now Sunday and it’s a new day.  I mean, the enemy’s done all he could, man.  But it’s a new day, that’s for sure.  We read here about these women, they just love the Lord.  Verses 40, 41, in Mark 15, they were there, the last folks that Mark mentions that were at the cross looking upon their Lord as he died on the cross.  A couple of them saw where he had been laid.  Now they’ve got up early--last ones at the cross, first ones up on Sunday morning to go to the tomb and prepare these spices and aloes again to go and to just anoint, just a last act of adoration, to anoint their Lord.  As they’re going along--in Matthew 28--we read that there’s an earthquake.  We don’t know if the earthquake was felt by everybody, but we read in Matthew 28 that this earthquake came.  And to me, it was like as if all the creation shuddered, because this angel from the Lord comes down from heaven and moves aside the stone that sat in front of the tomb.  And I think the whole creation just shuddered, because when he did that, man, that affected every single gravestone in the world throughout history when that tombstone rolled aside.  This angel, Matthew tells us, then stood, well, sat on the stone, and as he sat on the stone these guards, these killing machines, just froze, just like a dead faint it says, they just froze.  Matthew 28:1-4, “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.  And, behold, there was a great earthquake:  for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.  His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow [have you ever stared at lightning right in front of you?  These guys did.  Imagine a being as bright as lightning standing in front of you]:  and for fear of him the keepers [the Roman Guard, all sixteen of them] did shake, and became as dead men.”    They couldn’t move.  [I’m willing to lay odds all 16 of them shat themselves as well.]  And we don’t know how long that occurred, but it must have been shortly after that, maybe the angel went and came back, I don’t know, but they leave [the Roman Guard, that is], and they go to Pilate and they report to Pilate ‘You know, you’re not going to believe what happened.  But we’re all there doing our job and this angel came and rolled away the stone and just sat there and we just froze, and we don’t know what’s happened to Jesus’ body.’  I mean, this is one of the worst things you could possibly say as one of these guys.  It meant certain death.  I mean, what do you do when angels do things like that?  It’s beyond your control.  Well, we read in the gospels that the Pharisees and religious leaders, they have a meeting and they just decide in the meeting, ‘Let’s do this.  Let’s bribe these guys, let’s give them some money.  Tell them not to tell anybody what’s happened, but tell them to tell everybody that the disciples came and stole the body.  And do that, and we’ll take care of anybody else.’  So that’s what they do.  But that’s the silliest thing one could believe, because here you’ve got these killing-machines, you’ve got this big stone that could have weighed as much as a ton, and you’ve got twelve disciples that are hiding in fear, that are going to somehow come and take that body.  Not only that, if they really did steal the body, that says these Roman soldiers failed and they should have been executed for failing [which they weren’t].  Just a silly thing to do.  But it was all they had left for options, because they didn’t want to admit to what had happened.  All along, these women, maybe it happened just before they got there [Why would the Lord want to scare these precious women to death--Roman Guards, yeah, that would have been funny, but these women.  That’s too warped for the angel of the Lord to do something like that].  The way it’s laid out in putting the gospels together, it seems to be laid out that way to me, they get there right after it’s occurred.  The soldiers must have [just] left at this moment.  But it’s clear as you read in verse 3 that these women also do not expect what’s happened.  As they come, they’re expecting a body, they’re expecting to prepare the body, and they don’t know what they’ve got to do with this big stone that’s in the way.  [They must have been a bit naive as well, to think the Guard would let them do this at all.]  These stones, you can see them in Israel, they’re like cylinders.  They’re cut thin, maybe 6” to a foot wide, but they stand four or five feet tall.  That’s a heavy stone, it’s like a big well-cover.  But you can see them in Mount Carmel, there’s some there and even the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem.  And what would happen, they would make this little trench and it would have an elevation to it so that the stone initially was on a higher elevation, so you would just have to get this thing rolling and it would roll right down this trench and stop right in front of this opening of the tomb and just seal the tomb.  It would be very difficult to take this large stone and now roll it uphill.  It would be nearly impossible.  It would take quite a few folks to do that.  So these ladies are like, ‘Wait a minute, how are we going to get in there?  They’ve sealed this tomb.’

 

Jesus Is Alive--“He Is Risen!”

 

Verses 4-8, “When they looked up they saw that the stone had been rolled away, for it was very large.  And entering the tomb they saw a young man clothed in a long robe, [obviously the angel had toned down his brilliant appearance so as to not scare the wits out of these ladies] sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.  But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed.  You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified.  He is risen.  He is not here.  See the place where they laid him.  But go tell his disciples and Peter that he’s going before you into Galilee, that you will see him, as he said to you.’  So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb and they trembled and were amazed, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”  These ladies were definitely surprised, when they get there and this tombstone is rolled away, and they’re even more surprised, they’re even terrified as they step in and they see this angel, they encounter this angel.  But this angel then shares with them definitely the most amazing report that’s ever been shared in all the world--that this Jesus, the one who was crucified, the one who was dead, has now incredibly, three days later, that body has come back to life--he’s raised to life.  He did not come back to life in some vegetable type state where, you know, not having oxygen in his brain for a couple days, that he came back partly just breathing, but he came back to perfect life as he was before, indeed, as Jesus had taught.  He’s risen, and he’s no longer in this tomb.  The angel even pointed out where he was laid.  He says, “Look, this is where he was laid.”  And from other gospels you deduce that his graveclothes were right the way they had initially been laid.  Potentially there was this cast around this body, this structure had hardened and it just lay there, and by just looking at it you could tell that no one had ripped it apart to get at the body, that he had raised to life.  And then in verse 7 the angel instructs the ladies to go and tell the disciples, especially Peter, that Jesus is alive, and is going before them to Galilee, and that they’re going to see him there.  These women, no doubt, leave differently than when they had come.  In fact, the Greek which says they leave in an ecstasy, there’s a fear, but they, this is more incredible than they could, they expected.  They got there, their Lord whom they loved was dead, had been dead, but now he’s alive.  And they leave with a tremendous amount of hope.  Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope.  If you do not have hope today in your life, it’s probably because you do not have Jesus in your life.  [This is talking about hope for our eternal future, not the hopeless feeling we can sometimes get when a particular circumstance doesn’t seem to be changing in our lives.]  But if you’re a Christian and you do not have hope, it’s because you do not understand what God has done for you and will do for you.    Jesus was dead and rose to life.  The answer to the question ‘When a man dies does he live again?’ the answer is ‘Yes he does.’  Because Jesus lives, we’re going to live again.  And no matter where you are, no matter what you’re going through, there’s hope for you to experience, tremendous hope, because things only get better.  Not only do they get better, David said in the Psalms, he said, “In your presence is fulness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forever more” (Psalm 16:11).  And to be with the Lord, to be alive with him, is fulness of joy.  It’s tremendous blessing and treasure.  Job began to experience that, these women experienced that.  The fact that Jesus is alive gives me strength, gives me hope.  I take courage in it, that I know that God has a plan in my life today, and in the end there’s great glory awaiting me.  Even in the most troubled waters I can take that hope.  Peter said in his letter, 1st Peter 1:21, “He was manifest in the last times for you, who through him believe in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”  He raised so that you have faith and you have hope in God.  It is a hope, it is a hope of our justification, Paul writes in Romans 4, “Who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”  I’ve done all sorts of things I wish I didn’t do, but Jesus was raised from the dead and through his death and resurrection I am justified.  And I can stand confidently now before the Lord.  There’s hope in his resurrection, hope in our justification, hope in our newness of life.  Paul writes in Romans 6 “Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also walk in the newness of life” (Romans 6:4).  He’s been raised, he’s brought life.  There’s newness of life that we can experience.  The old is gone for those that are in Christ, the new has come [cf. John 14 & 16], newness of life.   Paul continues in chapter 6 of Romans, he talks a lot about the resurrection.  He says that ‘we who were once dead to sin, because of the resurrection, are now alive in Christ.’  I was dead to sin, hard heart.  I don’t know how these folks would go through these things that I’ve heard about this week, even with the funeral I went to, without Christ.

 

Jesus Christ’s Resurrection Will Bring Us Into Immortality

 

Dead to sin, but now alive in Christ.  Those of us here this morning that are Christians are alive in Christ.  Chapter 7, Paul continues in Romans, he says  ‘just because Jesus was raised from the dead we are beautifully now joined with him through faith.’  And now too, you and I can bring forth fruit to God, as we serve in the newness of the Spirit.  I couldn’t do anything before, I was in a desperate state.  But he died, he rose to life, and now I can even bring pleasure to the Lord.  I bring fruit to God, fruit of the Spirit as a result.  There’s hope of our justification, there’s hope in our newness of life.  There’s also hope that new life will also come to our mortal bodies.  Paul continues in Romans again, Romans 8:11, “But if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”  If you do not have the Spirit in you, this does not apply, but if you have the Spirit in you, he will give life even to your mortal bodies.  On that day, he’s going to take and give you a new body, an eternal body, a spiritual body, yet a physical body.  [This is where a lot of denominations disagree.  Some say we will have Spirit composed bodies like the angels, like Christ, because of Scriptures like 1st John 3:1-2 and 1st Corinthians 15 where Paul says “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.”  Others believe we will have physical bodies that will live forever.  It’s not an important detail at this point, we’ll have to wait and see at the time of our resurrection.  Personally, I lean toward the Spirit composition bodies that can transform back to human form at will, like Jesus and the Holy angels have done repeatedly throughout the Word of God.  How would we be able to cross the vast universe we’re to inherit with Jesus if we were restricted forever to our human lifeforms as we are today?  Just have to wait and see.  Not worth making a doctrinal mountain out of a spiritual mole-hill on this one, as some have.  Too much dogmatism in the gray areas of Scriptural interpretation distracts from unity in the body.]  We have our hope in justification, we have hope in our newness of life given even to our mortal bodies, and we have hope of a seat in the heavenlies.  Paul writes in Ephesians “and raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”  Jesus was raised up to life and seated in the heavenlies, and now I have a hope too, that that will  happen to me also.  David’s word, that declaration of hope definitely comes to mind in Psalm 16:10-11, because in his presence is fulness of joy.  I’m not sure where you are today, but if you don’t have newness of life, if you don’t have peace and hope, then draw near to God and he’ll draw near to you, and experience the wonder of what God has done for you through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

‘Oh, And Go Tell Peter’--The Apostles Become Changed Men

 

Peter, it says here that the angel says, ‘Tell the disciples, but especially Peter, let him know, let him know that there’s hope.’  I mean, Peter is disheartened, obviously, you can only imagine how down he is, because his Lord, this one that he served and put all his hope in has died, has been crucified, is in the tomb.  But not only that, he also knows that he denied him when he was so confident he wouldn’t.  He even told his Lord that he wouldn’t deny him.  And now he’s ashamed, now he’s disheartened, he’s confused, and the angel says ‘But especially, tell Peter that Jesus is raised from the dead.  That there’s hope.  Good things are coming.  There’s hope for today and there’s hope for the future, tell Peter.’  You know, you get there don’t you sometime, like man, I have made such a mess of things.  I can’t believe what I’ve done, and I thought I was a Christian.  But the angels said ‘Tell Peter, man, because there’s hope.  Jesus rose from the dead.’  You were dead once to your sin but now you’re alive in Christ.  There’s hope, but there’s also power.  Peter, a short time later--you know he denies Christ before a little lady, a little girl, a servant girl--but just a short time later he’s going to stand before the Sanhedrin, which may have actually included some of these servants that maybe were there, and so empowered and anointed in the Holy Spirit, he says “Jesus died, and Jesus rose to life, and there’s not any other name under heaven whereby men must be saved other than the name of Jesus Christ.”  He’s hiding, weak and scared, a short time later, in the beginning of Acts you find him just giving this fiery sermon and really risking his life as he does it.  People radically changed after the resurrection, finding power through that in the Holy Spirit.  Also, all the apostles, Acts 9:33, “And with great power the apostles witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.”  They’re very different on the other side of the cross and the grave and the resurrection.  They’re very different--hiding, denying, and then standing so boldly.  I don’t know about you, but those of you that are Christians this morning, I’d like more boldness in my life.  Sometimes I can be like Peter, you know, even before a family member and not say what I’d like to say because they’re there and I’m wondering what they’re going to think and I say something else or I don’t say it at all.  But you know, the more I just concentrate and go, you know, that tomb was empty, he’s risen, I’ve got hope.  This is just a short time.  Who cares what people think.  If everybody doesn’t like me, who cares?  That was the attitude of the apostles and disciples after that.  ‘Hey, I’m going to heaven man.  Say what you want, think what you want, but let me tell you the truth.  Jesus rose from the dead.’  God wants every one of us to know this power, because it is available to us.  Paul writes in Ephesians, “And that we would know what is the exceedingly greatness of his power towards us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead.”  God says that Paul prays for us that we would know that power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the heavenlies.  With all that, we have hope, we have power because of the resurrection of Jesus, but we also should have a new perspective.  Paul says, Colossians 3:1, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”  If you are raised with Christ, if you believe that Christ is up there in the heavenlies, if you believe that you are going to join him up there in the heavenlies [and yes, come down with him and rule the world with him, cf. Rev. 19 & 20:1-6; Zech. 14:9; Rev. 2-3 & 5:9-10].  Seek that kingdom.  Seek first his kingdom, make that your desire.  Seek those things which are above if you believe Jesus rose from the dead and you believe he’s given life to you, eternal life, you shouldn’t be too distracted, confused with the things of the world, but instead of the things that are of above.

 

Debated Verses

 

Verse 9, you know, as you are in Mark, these next verses 9 to 20, there’s a lot of debate whether these verses are actually originally part of the transcript here that Mark wrote.  There’s debates.  One of the reasons, a couple of the major transcripts, historical transcripts, parchments, that we rely on, do not include this section.  It ends with verse 8.  Although there are others that do have it.  And some would say verse 8 is kind of a strange way to end this gospel.  So it’s hotly debated.  Another reason  it’s hotly debated is because of some of the words Mark uses, some of the Greek words, he never uses before.  In fact, they’re never used at all in the New Testament, they’re only used here, so some say, ‘Well, maybe he didn’t actually write this, maybe it was added later by a scribe.’  So it’s a debate.  I personally believe it’s part of the original section.  But I would just share that with you, there’s only a few passages in all the Bible where they debate that, here’s one of them.  I personally believe it is, because it lays out well with the rest of Scripture, and these truths are taught in other places.  But starting in verse 9, 9-11, “Now when Jesus was risen, early on the first day of the week he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven demons, and she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.  And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.”  He writes here how he first appears to Mary.  In fact, in the other gospels, he was behind her.  She saw an angel, and then she sees this gardener.  She thinks he’s the gardener behind her, turns and it turns out it’s Jesus, very much a risen Jesus, bodily risen Jesus because she wraps her arms around his feet [John 20].  But you know what a testimony, a woman who had demons, a life in the depth of the gutter, but now we read here at the end, man, just wrapping her arms around the Lord.  And just a powerful witness to going and telling the disciples and those who were mourning and saying ‘Hey, he’s alive, it’s true.  It’s unbelievable, but it’s true.’  You can only imagine her frustration as the disciples didn’t accept this great news.  And that can be tough, you go to your family members, you go to your friends and you’re like ‘Man, you’re having a hard time, but let me tell you the Good News.   Jesus loves you, he died, he was buried, he rose to life, if you take him as your Lord he will change your life, it will bring newness to your life.’  And they’re like, ‘Well I’m not too interested.  Don’t really care, I want to stay right where I am, right here in my suffering, in my just bumming out, I want to stay here.’  That’s frustrating, Mary Magdalene had an experience here, one of the witnesses there who had the same experience.

 

Jesus Starts To Appear To The Others

 

Verses 12-13, “After that he appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country, and they went and told it to the rest.  But they did not believe them either.”  This is given in more detail in Luke, but two of these guys are on the road to Emmaus, as they’re walking along Jesus suddenly appears with them and begins to walk with them.  But it says specifically in Luke that they did not recognize Jesus, because God kept them from recognizing Jesus initially.  So they walked, and Jesus says, ‘Well what’s going on?’  And a guy says to Jesus ‘Haven’t you heard?  This Jesus, who did all these wonderful things everybody knows about, was crucified by the religious leaders and he died and he was entombed, but there’s reports that he’s risen to life.  Haven’t you heard that?  Everybody else is talking about it.  You mean you haven’t heard about it?’  And Jesus walks with them and eventually he’s ready to continue on but they’re at their home and they persuade him to stay.  He goes into their home, sits there at the table with them, and then as he’s breaking the bread their eyes are opened, and they're like ‘Wow!  Here he is right before us, Jesus!’  And at that instant he was gone [disappeared, as Luke says].  (Luke 24:15-31.)  Those two guys come, and I think in the other gospels this is what’s being referred to here, because they go to the disciples and they share the report.  It says, verse 14, “Later he appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table and he rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart because they did not believe those who had seen him after he had risen.”  They go, and they tell the disciples, and the disciples are like ‘Well, we don’t believe you.’  But as they’re sharing this story, the evidence appears right there, Jesus appears right there in the room.  And then he rebukes the disciples.  He says, ‘You know, I told you, you saw all the things I did, I sent these people to tell you I had risen, and you don’t believe me, and look, here I am.’  And he rebuked them.           Many of you are here with a hard heart, and God rebukes you here this morning, he says, ‘You know, I’ve shown you.  I’ve shown you the risen Savior in lives around you, in family members and friends, I’ve shown you the power of God, and yet you do not believe me.  I rebuke you for that, your hardness of heart.’  I pray this morning, if your heart is hard that you’d soften your heart and receive the gospel.  [What is the Gospel?  Part 1, “Who Is Jesus?” see https://unityinchrist.com/prophecies/1stcoming.htm]

 

The Great Commission Given To Them And Us All--“To Go Into All The World And Preach The Gospel”

 

Because Mark continues and Jesus says to them in verse 15, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel unto every creature.  He who believes, and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (verses 15-16)  It says, if you believe, tell them, tell the world, and we’ve been telling the world ever since.  You believe in what Jesus has done, that he came, the Son of God was crucified for your sin, was buried because of your sin, was raised to life for you, to give your life in forgiveness of sin.  He says ‘Tell them, preach that to them.  If they believe, baptize them, they’re going to be saved.  The baptism isn’t going to save them, because if they don’t believe [and I know people who have been baptized but aren't saved, have reverted to being unbelievers, because they never really were believers to begin with--sad but true] they’re going to be condemned.  It’s the belief that saves [and this belief comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit, it isn’t something we work up ourselves, it's “saving faith”].  The baptism just testifies that.  “He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not will be condemned.”  And he says, verses 17-20, “And these signs will follow those who believe, in my name they will cast out demons, they’ll speak with new tongues, they will take up serpents and if they drink anything deadly it will by no means hurt them.  They will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.  So then after the Lord had spoken to them he was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God, and they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.”  So they go out, and they testify, and the disciples and apostles are radically transformed.  In fact, you read in verses 17 and 18, you know, some people build a doctrine on just a couple verses, and there’s groups out there that do weird things [with snakes].  There’s groups that say they’re Christian that actually have snakes in their little ceremonies and stuff because of this verse, and that’s bizarre.  But Jesus is saying, ‘You know, I’m going to be with you.’  And you read into the book of Acts, the apostles went out and he was with them, and radical things at times happened.  Even today there are in parts of the world, even at times in America, radical things will happen when God wants to show a person, because of his love, that this gospel is real and it’s life-changing.  But the most radical testimony is a changed life--a man that was dead to sin that’s now alive in Christ--you just can’t deny the power of it.  These guys were radical.  The disciples were in hiding, later they’re out boldly proclaiming the truth, the gospel, and most of them, nearly every one, died for the message.  If they didn’t believe the message, if they didn’t believe Jesus rose from the dead, if they didn’t believe they had seen him, no doubt one of them would have squirmed at the last moment, but every one of them, even Mark who writes this--tradition tells us, history tells us that he was torn in two between two groups of horses, they tied him up and just let the horses go and ripped him in half.  We know Peter was crucified upside down, we know that Paul was beheaded--they all were ‘crucified’ because they had seen the risen Saviour, and they knew he had been raised to life, and that’s all they lived for.  And that was everything to them.  The only one that didn’t die was John, but they tried to boil him in oil, and he somehow amazingly lived through it.  So then they put him on a little island [Patmos] in exile until he got real old.  And there’s a possibility he went back to Ephesus after, we don’t know.  [Yes, he did, or we wouldn’t have the Book of Revelation right now, it would have remained on Patmos.]

 

The Evidence Is There, Jesus Rose To Life

 

Well, verse 19, ‘Jesus was received up to heaven and he sat down at the right hand of God.’  David said, “Lord in your presence is fulness of joy.”  Right there and in Christ you’ve seated me in the heavenlies right there next to you, that is the greatest.  Let’s conclude with John chapter 11, I’m going to read just a couple of verses.  These women, just a few days before the crucifixion, maybe weren’t prepared for this event, just a little time before a close loved one, Lazarus, had died.  And in his case he had been dead four days.  They had requested, Mary and Martha, that Jesus would come back and heal Lazarus, as he was dying, but Jesus purposely waited till Lazarus died.  And then he came back, and as he came back, reading in verse 21, “Now  Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.’  And Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’  Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’  Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me, though he may die shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.  Do you believe this?’  She said to him, ‘Yes Lord, I believe that you’re the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come to the world.’” (verses 21-27)  The Bible speaks of two deaths.  Here Jesus says, ‘You know, Lazarus is dead.  But he’s going to raise to life.’  And actually Jesus did raise him physically to life, but he’s speaking of even a greater life.  The Bible says there’s two deaths.  There’s the physical death, the body dies, sometimes it’s an act of grace because the real spirit (soul) of the person can’t really express itself very well.  This spirit [component of the person] departs from the body [cf. Ecclesiastes 3:19-21], that’s the physical death that all of us know as man.  The Bible says there’s a greater death, the Bible says the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a), that death is separation from God.  [The Bible calls this the 2nd death, described in Revelation 20:6,14-15, this  doesn’t appear to be just a mere separation from God, but a complete death, cessation from not just life but all thought and consciousness that is thought by some to reside in the spirit of man.  Different Christian denominations differ on interpretation here.  For an interesting article on the differing beliefs about the spirit in man, life after death and what hell may be, log onto https://unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm]  And every one of us here has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and that is separation from God.     But Jesus Christ came while we were yet sinners, and he died, demonstrating his love, for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).  Jesus said ‘I am the resurrection, I am the life, he who believes in me though he may die, he shall live, be raised to life.  And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die,’  shall never be separated from God, will live in that fulness and presence of God, enjoy God, and live there for eternity and have great hope.  The fact of history, Jesus was raised to life.  There have been different folks, obviously who debate this.  But there’s great historians, even the guy who founded the Harvard Law School said, “If you look at the evidence, Jesus raised to life.”  Jim Morse set out to write a book to disprove the resurrection.  Before he was done he wrote a book proving that Jesus rose to life, and he became a Christian.  He was a renowned world philosopher.  The evidence is there, Jesus rose to life.  And because Jesus rose to life, there is hope.  For everyone in this room there is hope.  Hope that you will be justified, you may have made a mess of your life, but Jesus came to forgive you of your sin, and to give you a right standing with God.  Hope of newness of life.  You’re saying this life is harsh, and is difficult, but all things are new in Christ.  The new has come, there’s newness of life.  And there’s the work of the Spirit and fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, there’s hope.  There’s great hope to be had.  And with that there’s power because the Spirit is in you for godly living, for victory.  You were once in your sin, but now you’re alive and set free from that.  There’s boldness, and there’s a new perspective.  When a man dies, does he live again?  There’s a new perspective, and yeah he does.  And there’s great things coming for those who believe in Christ.”  [To see what happened next, how the New Testament Christian Church got started, just ten short days after Jesus ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father, log onto: https://unityinchrist.com/history2/index4.htm and https://unityinchrist.com/Acts/Acts_2_41.html]

 

related links:

What does Jesus’ resurrection back to immortality mean for us?  see https://unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16.htm

What was the early Church like? see https://unityinchrist.com/history2/index3.htm

What is the Gospel?  First Point:  “Who Is Jesus?” see https://unityinchrist.com/prophecies/1stcoming.htm

Last six days of Christ through the crucifixion, see https://unityinchrist.com/lamb/lastsix.htm

Differing secondary beliefs about heaven and hell and the spirit in man, conscious or unconscious upon death, see https://unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm

“Will a man rob God?”  see https://unityinchrist.com/gifts.htm

 

 

Content Editor Peter Benson -- no copyright, except where noted.  Please feel free to use this material for instruction and edification