Matthew 28 verses 1 to 15 and Mark 16 verses 1 to 8 – When we come to these familiar passages in the Gospels, we occasionally take things for granted – having previously heard the narrative – perhaps many times – and familiarity can result in our losing their excitement and freshness. Do not allow that to happen to the Gospel records of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
In the days when I used to sing the 23rd Psalm frequently – at Weddings or Funerals – I would sing it, as if it were for the first or last time – not wanting these words to lose their truth and significance and comfort.
The women had questions – there is nothing wrong with questions. There is always something new – and something fresh – to learn, or even experience.
The names Joseph and Mary appear – two Marys and Joseph of Arimathea.
Jesus left both the womb and the tomb. Other children were born to Mary and Joseph. The Holy Spirit was doing something wonderful in the womb of Mary – and in the tomb He was raising up Jesus from the dead and giving him a body that would never grow old.
The women were the last at the cross and the first at the tomb.
There is fear – and there is faith. Fear was caused by the evidence of the resurrection – and faith resulted by experiencing the risen Jesus.
Something supernatural happened – the evidence convinced them that something happened – and that can lead to fear. After all, they had come to anoint the crucified body of Jesus.
We need to meet the risen Jesus – the Jesus who was dead – who did not just swoon on the cross.
Mark 15 verse 43f – When Mark reports the burial of Jesus, Mark is really certifying that Jesus was dead. Joseph of Arimathea is identified as a witness – the body is wrapped up and the tomb sealed. This Roman Centurion would also witness the burial – and inform Pilate.
Mark is also informing us of the reliability of the women witnesses – and that continues on into Chapter 16.
Mark is recording a historical account. The names are repeated – what is he saying – if you do not believe me, go and ask them – they are still alive – check out my story if you have to.
Jesus had spoken about this in Mark 8 and 9 and 10. Jesus knew what was going to happen – soon.
One thing is clear – nobody was expecting a resurrection from the dead!
Mark records that Jesus said He would rise. Surely one disciple would have said – Hey, it is the third day – he said He would rise – not one disciple – if this was fiction would Mark not have included one name at least who expected Jesus to rise.
This rings with historical authentic truth.
Mark tells us about the rolled away stone – how would they have got in otherwise?
The angel sat on it – this is nothing to angels. It is as if to say – it has been done – just as he said it would. They saw a young man – dressed in strange clothes – this was more than a human event – this was God at work.
They saw the empty tomb – Matthew tells us that Jesus met them – verse 9 – come and see – then go and tell.
Luke 24 is filled with personal encounters with Jesus – as is John 20.
Get this in your own experience – and then go and tell.
Personal testimony matters – and may matter even more, in these difficult days, as many have no idea what the cross and resurrection is all about
The angel wants the resurrection of Jesus Christ to be part of their experience – these women have to meet Him – and so do we.
The disciples may have run away – but Jesus was waiting for them – they may have deserted Jesus, but Jesus wanted them back.
This is why some have doubts and questions and disbelief and unbelief – they have never met the risen Jesus. They ran – they fled – they were afraid.
Fear does not make you go and witness – fear does not make you go and tell.
Fear did prepare them for meeting Jesus risen from the dead.
The gospels give us all the details of the reunions and meetings – Peter and John run to the tomb when they hear the testimony of the women – Jesus appears to Peter in Jerusalem – Jesus appears to these two disconsolate men on the Emmaus Road, and after that conversation with references to the scriptures, their hearts are burning within them and they rush back to the Fellowship in Jerusalem – and Jesus appears that evening in the Upper Room and speaks words of peace – and breathes upon his men, and into His men.
If all this was a hoax – as some suggest – they would have to keep the story going for over 60 years until John had died – during which time dozens of conspirators would have had to take their fabricated story to the grave – even Paul.
And – would all those people have given their lives for a fabricated hoax?
All that was required to disprove the resurrection of Jesus Christ was for someone to produce the corpse.
In the Gospels, and in Acts, the evidence gave way to an experience.
All of this requires repetition because it is not easy to understand – it is radical and unusual and surprising – and it is unique. No other spiritual leader has done this – and this is why it must all sound so strange in many ears.
Many met the risen Jesus on that day – the women – the two on the Emmaus Road – then, the Upper Room – where there was fear and confusion.
The men on the Emmaus Road had heard of the empty tomb – but that second hand evidence was insufficient – the evidence needed an experience of the risen Christ.
This was God’s way of stamping – PAID IN FULL. Sin has been paid for.
Go everywhere and preach the Gospel. The risen Lord went with them everywhere they went. Mark 16.
He has risen. He is risen. He is not here – see the place where they laid him.
Jesus said he would rise from the dead and rise he did – Jesus was true to his word and Jesus is always true to his word – know and hold firm and fast to that over these next weeks and months.
For many, the period ahead will be hard and difficult – the road will be steep – and there will be those who will need your love and light and understanding – and whatever practical and spiritual help you can give.
By raising Jesus from the dead, God has spoken. As we stick close to the Scriptures – and do not compromise our Testimony – we allow the Word of God do its sovereign work. I
For over two thousand years Jesus has had men and women who have faithfully served and passed on the Gospel to us. We now seek to pass on this same Good News to others – of sins forgiven – and strength for the journey ahead – and peace with God – to be shared with a world crying out for peace.
There is a well-known ‘children’s chorus’ – suitable for all ages –
“I serve a risen Saviour – He’s in the world today –
I know that He is living – whatever men may say –
I see His Hand of mercy – I hear His Voice of cheer –
And just the time I need Him – He’s always near.
He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives! He lives – salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart!”
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