"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. So let's say a word of prayer together. "Father, we thank you that we can study your Word together.
I thank you as we continue where we left off last
week. This fact
of history, this most incredible event, we continue to study
the just awesome work that you have done.
No doubt, lot's of us have heard the story many times.
Father many of us you know even in our minds right
now maybe we're so used to it that maybe we're less receptive
to learn again. But Lord open our eyes and our hearts and teach
us the wondrous things in your Law right here--that all
of history is centered on this one point.
Teach us all the more the beauty, the power, the
great hope of what you've done for us. We thank you, in Jesus name, Amen."
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." 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.
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 a 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 of 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. 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 he 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.
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 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.
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 an 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 the 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.' 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: http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/corinthians/cor15-16.htm
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, J)] [In the interest of true unity
in the body of Christ, we as denominations and individual
Christians have to learn to take a less dogmatic approach
toward the secondary beliefs and doctrines we all have,
while maintaining strict adherence to the primary doctrines
of salvation. Just
thought I'd point that out, since this site will occasionally
feature articles (placed in the remote sidelines of the
site) that will show "differing" points of view or way of interpreting the
Scriptures in these secondary areas.
This is done, not to get one to give up there own
beliefs in these secondary areas, but to promote an understanding
that born-again Christian denominations can
and do differ on the finer points of doctrine, even
in areas which some consider major points (because they've
fallen prey to making a doctrinal mountain out of a Scriptural
mole-hill J).] 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.
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 Matthews account, we don't have
it here, but Matthews 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 31AD] 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 motive 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 were 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 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 tomb, and as he sat on the tomb 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 even 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. 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 nieve 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.'
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 the 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 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. 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, 1 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.
to sin, but now in Christ.
Those of us here this morning that are Christians
are alive in Christ. Chapter 7, Paul continues in Romans, he says
the '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 1 John
3:1-2 and 1 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.
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 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.
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 Sanhedran,
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.
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
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 had same experience.
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 guys 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
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.
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, 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."
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
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
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. 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 savior, and they knew he had 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
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, 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 way 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.'"
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.] And every one of us here has sinned and fallen short of the glory
of God, and that is separation from God.
[For an interesting article on the differing beliefs
about Hell, log onto http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/plaintruth/battle.htm
] 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.
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 raised to life.
There have been different folks, obviously debated
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 that Jesus rose to life, as
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: http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/history2/index4.htm