Resurrection Results (33 AD) – Mark 16:1-7

This is arguably the most religious week of the calendar year. For the people of Israel, the Passover began last Thursday, and for most professing “Christians” today is Easter. Only the rest of the world – Muslims, Hindus and other unbelievers would argue with me. But there is a pall – a dark cloud, a funeral shroud – draped over us this year. We aren’t gathering as we usually do – rejoicing together in the empty tomb, publically singing the great resurrection hymns. And for those Catholics and Protestants whose salvation depends on the festivities of this day, they must be pulling their religious hair out worrying about the future of their idolatrous souls, especially since they could be running a fever of 102º by tomorrow evening.
Because born-again Christians are not bound to the empty tomb for deliverance from sin, I had considered not preaching the resurrection this morning. It seemed to me, under the circumstances, that there could be better subjects to address this “Easter.” But Thursday, as I sat down at my desk, the Lord brought me to my senses and back to the subject of His resurrection. According to the calendar this is “Easter.” I believe it is the day after Christ’s resurrection. And as such it is as appropriate a subject in a plague-infested-2020 as it is any other year.
Let’s begin with my understanding of the events of the last week of our Lord’s earthly life.
I believe that Christ was crucified at about noon on Wednesday, and He died just before sundown that day. In haste that Wednesday He was laid in Joseph’s tomb, where His body remained for 3 days and 3 nights. In other words, He spent the nights of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in that tomb and through the day-light hours of Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Christ specifically said in Matthew 12:40 – “For as Jonas was THREE days and THREE nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be THREE days and THREE nights in the heart of the earth.” The Lord Jesus Himself said that he would spend 72 hours in the heart of the earth. Even if we accept one partial day and one partial night those three, it is impossible to make the time-table squeeze into Friday to Sunday morning, while maintaining all that the Bible says about those days. I know there is a problem understanding the word “Sabbath,” but it is a far smaller problem than denying the very distinct words of the Lord Jesus Christ. There was a special sabbath during that special week. Those who say that Jesus died on Friday are calling my Saviour a liar, and that offends me.
Something to keep in mind is that to the Jews each day started at sunset – not at sunrise or mid-night. I suppose that began with Genesis 1:5 when “God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” It was customary among the Hebrews, and many other eastern people, to reckon a day from sundown to sundown, not midnight to midnight, or sunrise to the next sunrise. So, in the Jewish mind, at about 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday began. And at 6:00 p.m. on the common Sabbath (Saturday) – the first day of the week began. In other words, their Sunday started on our Saturday night. I know that is confusing until you let it sink in, but it is the only way to adequately explain Jesus’ 3 days and 3 nights in the tomb while letting the other scriptures speak for themselves.
Now notice verse 1 – “And when the sabbath was PAST, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.” Again, when did the sabbath end? According to the Jewish way of thinking, it ended at sundown on the last day of the week. It appears to me that verse 1 took place on Saturday night. For reasons not given to us, the mission of the women was unfulfilled that night. So, verse 2 – “And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.” This was Sunday morning – the morning of that first day of the week. “And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? “And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.”
When the women arrived shortly after sunrise on Sunday morning, they found the tomb empty, except for a special Heavenly messenger. “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. 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. 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.” I believe that when the women arrived, they missed the actual resurrection by as many as 10 to 12 hours. Christ didn’t rise up at sun-up on Sunday; He arose shortly after sun-down the previous evening.
But these things are not my purpose or point this morning. And I will admit that there are men a lot smarter than I am, who disagree with what I have just said. Some disagree in minor ways – for example, some say the crucifixion took place on Thursday, and I respect them, because they differ with me only in matters of interpretation. But there are others with whom I have major disagreements, when they say Jesus died on “Good Friday.” That is not a matter of interpretation, but foolishness and even an attack upon the integrity of Christ. With the Lord’s help, I will not gloat when, before God, they publically admit to their heresy. But this morning I am not concerned about when the Lord was crucified or the precise moment when He arose. The fact is, as the angel said, “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.”
This morning, I’d like to think about Christ’s resurrection as it affected people 2,000 years ago.
For the Lord Himself, first of all, it was the obvious restoration of His physical life. This is an area where we see once again that Bible doctrine is not for sissies. There are things Christians believe which are beyond the logical, but we believe them because God has declared them to be true, and He has given us faith to trust His word.
For example, the birth of Jesus was, in fact, the incarnation of the eternal Son of God. It was the beginning of something – Someone – who never had a beginning, which makes no logical sense. “Word” is a term the Apostle John used to describe the Second Person of the God-head. He said, “In the BEGINNING was the WORD, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS GOD.” “And the WORD was made (became) flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” He refers to that Word again in the first verses of his first epistle when speaking of Christ Jesus. Paul expressed the same thing a little differently in 1 Timothy 3:16 – “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: GOD was manifest in the FLESH, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
In the incarnation, God was manifest, or became visible, in the flesh, and dwelt among us like one of us. And 33 years later, in that flesh – in that human body – Christ died. He died a horrible death; a painful death without the help of anything to ease His suffering. He suffered physically, emotionally and spiritually – in ways that no ordinary human being ever has. And then He died – far more rapidly than the Roman’s expected – because perhaps His suffering was greater than any mere mortal had ever known. But then 3 days later He returned from death and emerged alive from His temporary tomb. “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of (Paul) also, as of one born out of due time.”
Then 40 days after His resurrection Christ ascended into Heaven. After speaking to His disciples, “while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud receive him out of their sight.’ As Paul said to Timothy, he was “received up into glory.” Not only was he received BY and into glory, he was restored TO His former glory – something for which He had prayed – “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.” “O Father, glorify thou me with the thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”
For the Son of God the resurrection resulted in a restoration of His former glory and His former joys. But He also entered into activities which were somewhat new. Don’t ask me for the details, but He began preparing a place for those He died to save. Before His death He said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” Hebrews 11:16 says that He is currently preparing a city for His saints. How the One who created the universe in 6 days is still busy preparing a place for His saints, I won’t try to explain.
More importantly, the resurrected Christ has entered a new ministry of mediation for those saints – for us. In Hebrews 8 Paul says that Christ’s new ministry is extremely important. “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the MEDIATOR of a better covenant which was established upon better promises.” “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” – Hebrews 7:25. In ways unimaginable before His crucifixion and resurrection, Christ is now interceding on our behalf before the Father and perhaps in the face of Satan and his misuse of the law.
Also, remembering that God is not either bound by time or blessed with time, I am sure that the resurrected Christ has also begun preparing for His eventual return. He was received up into glory, and in displaying glory He shall soon return. Generalizing things, He will come with judgment and blessings; He will come putting an end to sin and sinners. When He returns He will remove the curse which came with Adam’s sin, which means among other things no more flu, or cancer, or man-caused poverty or a thousand other maladies. Eventually pain and death, darkness and loneliness, gloom and despair will cease. Because Christ arose – because Christ lives – those whom He saves will live in glory with Him. Praise God for Christ’s resurrection!
Not only were there great changes in Christ because of the resurrection, but …
There were changes in and among His disciples as a result of the resurrection.
For 3½ years they had been timid learners, but soon after the resurrection Jesus’ eleven closest students were radically changed. For example, they were filled with power to accomplish amazing things. Before the crucifixion one of the disciples confessed, for them all, that he was ready to go to Jerusalem – “that we may die with him.” Who spoke those noble words? Thomas, which is called Didymus, famous for his lack of faith during that period between the crucifixion and the resurrection. One minute those disciples were ready to fight for the Lord, even to pulling out and swinging a sword, but then in a few hours they were cowering in fear before harmless women folk. Their weaknesses grew exponentially worse in the hours immediately after the crucifixion. But things changed for those disciples as a result of the resurrection.
Just before His ascension, Jesus told them, “ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” And it was so. After the resurrection, Peter and John could walk into the temple grounds without fear, stir things up with a miracle and then boldly open their mouths to defend and promote the name of Christ. And they didn’t worry when they were arrested and threatened with execution, because they had seen the same with their Master, and they then knew Him to be alive. In one sense, the death of Christ changed those men, but in another sense, it was the resurrection which revolutionized their lives. And their new lives and faith infected a second generation of Christian saints, to the point “they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” Between the crucifixion and the resurrection there hadn’t been much to commend any those disciples. But after the resurrection, they had become powerful servants of God.
Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for their Jewish neighbors who lived and died without faith.
For those who were predisposed to reject Christ and His message of repentance and faith, the resurrection affected them no more than Jesus’ crucifixion had done. When they refused to believe He was the Son of God, and that He died for sin, they further refused to believe that He arose from the grave. Despite the witnesses, the testimony of the Roman guards, the earthquake, the torn veil between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, nothing shook the false faith of the unbelievers. Perhaps some had a little curiosity about the stories they heard about the empty tomb. But that curiosity was quickly quashed by other pressing matters like their next meal and the presence of the Romans; by Satan and his human servants.
For many in Jerusalem, the resurrection of Christ simply meant a re-formation of their hatred. No longer did they have Jesus of Nazareth to despise and disparage, so they refocused on His Apostles and the rest of the disciples. “If we can’t attack their shepherd, we will disburse His sheep.” They began “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord.”
As important as the resurrection of Christ might be, it has no power to invigorate a sin-dead heart. The resurrection didn’t save a single soul. Paul did not say, “For the preaching of the empty tomb is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” He did not say “God forbid that I should glory, save in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.” No, what he said was “God forbid that I should glory, save in the CROSS of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” After his conversion Paul spent the rest of his life, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the CROSS, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Even though that verse in Hebrews 12 implies Christ’s resurrection and His current enthronement at the right hand of the Father, it was the cross and the Saviour’s death which Paul went about magnifying.
Again, I am not saying that the resurrection is unimportant – it is extremely important – but it pales in the light of the importance of the crucifixion. If your faith is not in what Christ did on the cross, your faith in Christ’s resurrection is spent in vain. “Brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” Then subsequent to that Paul said, Christ “was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”
Would it surprise you if I told you that all this has been nothing more than the introduction to my message for the day? With the Lord’s blessings, this evening I will try to make a contemporary application of the resurrection to the world in which we live, so please make plans to return tonight at 7:00. Tonight’s message is “The Resurrection – 2020.”
But in the mean time, because some of us may not be alive this evening to hear the continuation of this message, will you please consider Paul’s words once again? “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” Our lives are precarious; people die around us all the time. The 13-year-old son of the friend of a friend died this week from a car accident. A toddler whom I know fell and smashed her head against a coffee table and only immediate surgery saved her life. There have been over 12,000 deaths in the past seven days from heart attacks. The effects of cancer have taken hundreds of lives already today, with many more to follow in the next few weeks. And then there are the 2,000 who will die today from the Cornavirus. When will you be taken? When will you die?
You need the salvation of Christ – that salvation which was procured through His death on the cross. It took the shedding of blood to cover the stench of sin. I beseech you to repent before God and put your faith in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. And if you are still among the living tonight at 7:00 please return to hear the short conclusion of this message.