Friday, 6 April 2018

Speechless news: Jesus is Risen (Mark 16:1-8)

I had the privilege to give a talk at my church's Youth Group tonight. This was the last in a series on Mark 11-16, or what we called The Last Week of the King. I also gave the first talk in the series.

Well we have made it. This term we have looked at the Last Week of the King. I don’t know if you noticed, but Mark spends about 5 chapters of his book on this last week and about 10 chapters on the previous three years of Jesus’ ministry. Mark thought this last week was pretty important to focus on. This term we have gone from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.

In our reading tonight, you would think this should be a happy occasion. This is the greatest news of all time. The King is not dead. He is alive. He has risen. Jesus overpowers death. Christians’ present and future hope is wrapped up in this, but what we see here in our passages is fear and speechlessness.

Even though Jesus had told His followers that He was going to suffer and die and three days later rise again[1], on the third day we see these women go to the tomb to prepare the corpse of Jesus. They weren’t expecting Jesus to be alive again. If they thought Jesus was going to be alive they wouldn’t have bought the spices for Jesus’ corps, they would have saved that money. It seems Jesus’ believers didn’t believe him[2].

But, when they get to the tomb, they look up. They see the stone. It has been moved. It’s open, so they go inside. It a bit dark in there, as it is still early in the morning. Inside they see a man, sitting, wearing white. What would you be thinking if this was happening to you? Your dead friend is not there, instead, there is another person with a message to tell them. Would you be freaked out?

The man says “He has risen. He is not here. Go tell the others”. Again, this is not your normal body preparing morning. This is not going how they had planned. This is strange, freaky even. What do the women do? They flee, leaving astonished and afraid, telling no one.

In Mark this is not the first time we have seen people astonished and afraid of what Jesus has done[3]. In fact, if you think about it, being astonished and afraid is a fair and realistic reaction to Jesus.

Have you ever been in a situation that has left you speechless? YouTube is full of near misses or people doing great amazing things that leave you speechless. Here are just two.

<car nearly being crushed by a boulder, guy being rescued from a burning building (with no sound) >

Even this week I was talking with one of the leaders here, the other night they received an SMS with some great news that left them speechless. I asked them how they replied and they said, they put their phone down and went to bed as they didn’t know what to say.

Earlier in Mark, in chapter 4 His disciples had been afraid as their boat was caught in a massive storm and then after Jesus calms the storm with just His words, we see that the disciples were even more afraid[4]. In Mark 5 there is a terrifying demon posed man, and once Jesus heals him and the local townsfolk see the demon posed man in his right mind, then they were afraid[5]. In Mark 7 Jesus heals a deaf man and then the people’s reaction was astonishment[6]. In all these occasions, you would think people would be glad and rejoicing that they were saved from a big storm, that a man was made right and the deaf could hear again, but instead their first reaction to Jesus is fear and astonishment[7].

Now we pigeonhole people in our minds all the time. We look at them and make instant judgements. We divide people into categories and groups. When people see Jesus doing a miracle, when these women go to the tomb and meet a guy and find it empty, they come into a situation of which they have no category. The otherness of the event is so strange, so out of the box, so freaky that they were astonished and afraid[8].

And here, in the climax of the book of Mark, the women met an angel who tells them that Jesus has risen. He is not there. The meaning of their words freaks them out. They don’t know what to do with a guy who has risen from the dead. The implications of this impact them so much they are speechless.

A bolder has been moved, and Jesus has risen from the dead. This is the good news that the women are commanded to go and tell.

Jesus the King is alive and His kingdom will last forever because He can not be killed again. He beat death. The killed King who killed death now reigns as God over all.

Since Adam and Eve, death has ruled over all people. All generations have come and all generations have died. Every single man who has come has died and every single woman who has come has died. But then came Jesus. This man, this King who was foretold, did not fall in to sin. He had power over Sin. Jesus was not enslaved to Satan, Jesus crushed that ancient snake's head. Death did not triumph over Jesus, but Jesus triumphed over death and we get the reward[9].
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
…O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, but God gives us the victory through Jesus our King (1 Cor 15:54-56ish).
Thanks to Jesus our King, we get the victory. The King has conquered by dying in our place for us. Like the Passover Lamb, the people of God were saved from the judgement of God by the blood of a lamb. Now this Lamb of God was despised, rejected and crushed in our place and all who are under the banner of His blood will be saved.

Jesus humbled Himself to death on the cross, but now He is highly exalted and given the name above all names, so that at the name of Jesus every tongue will confess that Jesus is King, to the glory of God (Phil 2:7-11).

Now it is obvious that these women didn’t stay silent for long, as we the readers of Mark wouldn’t have known this story if no one told it. Besides, when you see something that leaves you speechless you don’t stay silent for long. When you have processed it, you must tell someone what happened. You have to share the experience and the excitement with others. With those videos we saw, someone thought it was worth sharing to youTube, they wanted to share that moment with others. When you get good news, do you keep it to yourself or can you not help but to tell others what happened?

People who believe our King deserves praise will tell others about Him. Those who have encountered the astonishing, the out of the box man who leaves you speechless and seen what He has done for them do not stay silent for long. Jesus has saved you, He has brought you to the Father, He loves you, He renews you. Jesus changes people and those people who are changed want to give God praise. Not out of guilt but for His glory because He is glorious and worthy of all praise. Followers of Jesus live their life as a worship response to what Jesus has done for them. In rising from the gave we too have been raised with Him, and we are called on a mission to go and tell others. For one day all will gather around the risen King and give Him praise and glory from every tongue and every tribe and every nation. This is what we live and die for.

So Jesus is scary. He is massive and out of the box. He has created all things and has authority over all things (Rev 4:11ish). He is holy. He is God. But He is also loving and our Saviour and Rescuer and He gives us everlasting life and hope and joy. Death is no longer the last enemy, it is not the end. This is astonishing and speechless news. Jesus has risen. Do you believe this message? Will you tell others about what Jesus has done for you and for them?

[1] Mark 8:31; 9:30-31; 10:32-34

[2] A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Tomb

[3] I got idea of Mark being all about Jesus being astonishing and fearful from John MacArthur, The Fitting End to Mark’s Gospel

[4] Mark 4:41

[5] Mark 5:15

[6] Mark 7:37

[7] Also, the disciples were afraid and astonished of Jesus walking on water (Mark 6:50-51); Jesus walking to Jerusalem made the people amazed and afraid (Mark 10:32); crowds were astonished by Jesus’ teaching (Mark 1:22; 6:2; 10:26; 11:18)

[8] This idea was taken from, R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of Christ

[9] This whole paragraph is mostly taken from David Platt, Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions, also the Passover Lamb bit.


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