MOVING OUT DAY (THE GOOD NEWS OF CHRIST)
Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 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. 7 But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” 8 So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. 9 Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.
I shared a personal story last Sunday at our business meeting that I would like to once again recount. In my BC (before Clara) days, I took a rather unusual job to help pay the bills as I worked my way through College. I became a night watchman in a Graveyard. And it came with accommodations. I lived in an apartment in the Mortuary in the middle of the graveyard. The best part of that apartment was the day I moved out. Here’s a truth, very people who came to us ever left. My departure, although pleasant, is temporary.
But I know someone who moved out of a graveyard and His move wasn’t temporary, but was necessary.
1) GRAVE FEAR Mark 16:5-6
A couple of women who were so intensely dedicated to Jesus that they are seen carrying spices had an encounter with an angel. These women showed no expectation for what they found. They weren’t going with hope for resurrection. They went to prepare the body so that it wouldn’t stink. In Palestine, a body that had been dead for two days would really stink.
What’s interesting about this is what happened as they went to perfume Jesus body, an alarm went off. Alarm bells are valuable. They help us overcome paralysis brought on by overwhelming fear. That’s what happened here, the women were alarmed and a bell went off through the voice of an angel, as he told them to not be afraid or alarmed any longer. They took off running and couldn’t bring themselves to report what they had heard at first.
Their fear was not without basis as women. Women were not held in high esteem in Jewish culture. They would have known that their testimony would not have been received well. Women were not allowed to testify in court. This admonition to stop being petrified is a recurrent theme in Scripture that regularly appears when men encounter Angels or God as a reflexive response. Yet Scripture consistently teaches us the exact opposite, as we are told to quit being afraid, whether we are shepherds, a prophet like Isaiah, a warrior in the making like Gideon, or an Apostle like Paul.
Frank Bartleman records that in the beginning of the Pentecostal Revival at Azusa Street, people were very afraid about was happening. So what is the big deal about us and fear? When we actually look at the word that we translate as fear, phobos, we can get a pretty big revelation. In the Greek language, phobos originally had the meaning of flight, dread, or terror. The concept of intimidation was a late addition to their ideas about fear.
Most people are intimidated when the thought of a real God is pondered. Yet, Scripture tells us to fear God. So if we are told to not be afraid, how do we fear God? Part of the answer is seen in our reverence, which is a powerful force, but that isn’t an adequate answer in and of itself. Possessing the fear of the LORD means we have a fear that banishes the terror we should feel when we enter into His presence, For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father (Romans 8:15).”
To those who are still in their sin, Resurrection Day is a great symbol of fear and dread. This is why Rez Day has undergone a transformation in our culture, becoming a day of bunnies, eggs, candy, and Passover Ham. The basis for the fear is the simple fact that if Jesus is really alive, His life must be dealt with and all that His death implies. Christmas is an easy Holyday to deal with, after all, the main character is a baby in a manger. Good Friday as a Holyday is also easier to deal with, as the protagonist is put to death. As long as Jesus remains on a Cross or is confined to a manger, He is tolerable, but when the empty tomb is brought into the conversation, everything changes.
2) A GRAVE PERSPECTIVE (GO AND TELL)
Matthew adds to Marks observations, when he says, But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word (Matthew 28:5-8).
Our future and our faith cannot be based on a notion or hope that Jesus might be alive. He is alive, period. His living essence is verified in many ways, but one of the most powerful ways happens as His power is demonstrated among us. The empty tomb really doesn’t mean much without the proclamation that Jesus had risen from the dead. This announcement is the crystallizing point of our faith. Jesus is alive!
The Angel applies one of the LORD’s primary tools as he speaks to these women; He invites their minds to ponder what has happened in order to open their hearts so that they could have an emotional experience. Here’s a profound truth, God respects our intellectual capacities and He ministers to our emotional needs. God isn’t interested in blind faith, or coat rack Christianity.
This is why there is so much evidence of the resurrection. Scripture records at least 13 post resurrection appearances, with one of those times being in front of about 500 people over a 40 day period. The 40 days of wilderness became the 40 days of manifestation. This actually really important, as these were witnesses who were alive during the times when the Jewish authorities were trying to say that the resurrection never happened, and that the body of Jesus was stolen by His disciples.
The verification of witnesses doesn’t stop there however, as contemporary historians like Josephus and Tactius commented on the resurrection and its importance, even though they were not believers. The theory about the body being stolen is unconvincing when you look at the discipline that governed the Roman Guards, as Centurions would have been executed for desertion of their posts if this had happened. These guards were elite, kind of like Seals.
A GRAVE PROCLAMATION (SHOW AND TELL)
There is a twofold from both Jesus and the angels, if Jesus is alive, the world should know, 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. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 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 (Mark 16:15-20).
The proclamation of the Kingdom always begins with demonstrations of grace, forgiveness, and power, then comes the story. The resurrection enlarged Jesus authority, and out of His authority comes the command to go! Go! Baptize, disciple, teach, cast out demons, heal the sick, raise the dead. This is the substance of the Kingdom. This message of forgiveness began with the angels message go tell the disciples – and Peter.
And as the capstone, Jesus promises us that both the Father and the Son, and the Spirit will be with us always.
3) A GRAVE VICTORY
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb (John 20:1).
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INTIMACY & WILLINGNESSAND THE CROSS IN OUR LIFE
When we bring our struggles to the Cross, they are book-ended by two things:
- An intimacy of relationship and trust
- A willingness, restfulness and surrender
REST LEADS TO THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OUTBREAK & OVERFLOW
There are times in our lives when everything argues for another course, but deep in the integrity of your heart you know that isn’t the Father’s way. The living Jesus, who has come to forgive us and save us, comes to live in us to give us the same strength of character as He had. Having made the choice of the Cross and borne the price of that struggle, two things are unleashed:
- The outbreak of redemption
- The revelation of eternal life and glory
Because Jesus chooses the Father’s will, there will break upon this planet full redemption salvation. Three days later, there will become a manifest, explosive breakthrough of life that would crush the power of hell and, for all time, open the gates of glory to the redeemed.
Christianity at its core is the conviction that the problem of the cemetery has been solved. Once that becomes our key note, we become enabled people who are capable of anything as we make ourselves available.
Being available to God’s redemptive work through you
God not just building your character, but as He did with His Son, God is seeking to work something redemptive through you. It will cost you to become an instrument of redemption. But when it’s over, anything you thought you were losing, will be fully recovered, plus more than you can imagine.
Learning how to bring our struggling to Christ’s Tomb is to recognize that there’s nothing of your struggle that is unwelcome in heaven, or unwilling to be heard by the Father. Identifying with Jesus’ struggle is to recognize that He is focusing everything of His agony and bringing it before the Father prior to the victory of the Tomb.