Let us pray: O Lord God Almighty, what a privilege to have hindsight as another Easter dawns! Unlike the women who were weighed down by grief; unlike the disciples who had heavy hearts, unlike lowborn believers who had had their hopes seemingly dashed on Good Friday; we know the outcome of Your death—resurrection! For us this is a joyous day from the moment we get out of bed to come to Your empty tomb! Thank You for providing us such blessed confidence! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM OUR RESURRECTED LORD AND SAVIOR!
TEXT: Mark 16: 1-8
Dearly Beloved Fellow Believers!
The Lord is Risen! (He is risen, indeed!) We go to a graveyard for these reasons: 1. To be buried. 2. To bury someone who we loved. 3. To tidy-up another’s grave. And 4. To perhaps snoop and read headstones. These women went for another reason: to finish preparing Christ’s body for the long sleep of death. None of them expected to find the huge stone rolled back. None of them expected to find an empty tomb. None of them expected to both see and be addressed by an angel announcing Jesus’ resurrection. None of them expected to hear that now ancient Easter greeting: “He is risen!” (He is risen, indeed!”) Why not? After all, every one of them was a believer. They had all heard Christ foretell His rising from the dead. He Who did miracles before their very eyes, had always kept His Word and they had all embraced it. Not one believer expected this unexpected development.
God, in the book of Hebrews, defines Christian faith this way: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients (Old Testament Christians) were commended for.” No one visiting the grave that morning was “sure and certain” of anything other than they would find surly soldiers, a weighty stone and a dead body. That is obvious from our lesson, isn’t it? So, was their faith dead like Christ on Good Friday? It’s an intriguing question. But the answer is: NO! Isaiah says: “A bruised reed, He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.” It just goes to show that grief can and does almost overwhelm Christian faith at times. It also shows that our Living Lord can and does fan that flickering flame into a bonfire. This is the lasting legacy of the resurrection!
Seeing is believing—that’s human wisdom. It’s a universal true-ism. So, we like to think that if we had been with Jesus during those 3 years and seen Him die that awful death to pay His Holy Father for the sins of the world and then been actually present at the empty tomb—we like to think we would have embraced His promises of life conquering death without any reservation. Then we would have swaggered to the tomb with supreme confidence. We would have left any burial supplies in the dust. “They wouldn’t be needed” we told those with us. Yet, we find none of that happening. This is how great the fear of death and the overwhelming sense of lostness grips human hearts—even for believers like you and me. We forget the truth of Jesus: “Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed.” That’s also us. We weren’t there, and yet we’re here today to celebrate Christ’s living victory over death, doubt, fear, and all pain. We’re blest by God because the resurrection really did occur and the Spirit has opened our eyes to it by His outpouring of grace upon us. Yes, right now you and I are doubly blest because we possess hindsight into the greatest miracle of all time!
This entire lesson should remind us that faith is not merely an emotion. Christian faith is enduring trust in God, His promises, His power, His truthfulness, and most of all: His love for lost sinners. Our faith may have, it DOES have, its ups and downs. It may have times of weakness and times of great confidence. But the reality of Easter cannot be quashed or destroyed because the tomb is empty and Christ really does live! Our sins are paid for, death has been swallowed up by Life!
We’re told: “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” –For now. It took them a while to process their emotions and the reality of what they had seen and heard. It seemed too good to be true. And yet, over time the Spirit’s power worked on them and their little saplings of faith started to grow, bud, flourish and gain strength. Today, you and I are products of just how much those saplings grew!
Humanly speaking, we live in fearful times. We fear dread diseases, war, economic disaster, and ultimately death. We fear being alone and powerless against the powerful. We’re just like these women early that first Easter morn. And yet the truth of Christ’s resurrection conquered all these fears. For “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” I know that my Redeemer lives! I know that “He will never leave nor forsake me.” All of this is made possible because: “The Lord is risen! He is risen, indeed!” Amen
Pastor Thomas H. Fox