Welcome back my friends. Today is a big one. We left off at the cross. The body of Jesus confirmed dead, wrapped in linen, and placed in a tomb. A large stone was rolled in front, and a Roman guard set in place for good measure. A day passed. And another. The Jews rested for the Sabbath, and we begin early Sunday morning.
Mark 16 opens just after sunrise. Several of the women carry spices to the tomb to honor the deceased. And they wonder: how will they move the stone? Verse 4:
“But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
Verse 8 tells us that the women are “trembling and bewildered.” No kidding. They’re expecting a dead body and find a live angel! And they’re told to go tell the disciples. What does it all mean?
And was this all a surprise? Notice the last phrase in verse 7, “Just as he told you.” Jesus talked about this – he told the disciples that he had to die and rise again! But sometimes we don’t listen to hard truth. Remember how Peter tried to talk Jesus out of it. They didn’t understand. So why did Jesus have to die?
The story of the resurrection is captured in all four gospels, and each writer shares different parts of that day. So let’s move to Luke’s account to help us answer that question. Luke 24:13:
“Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
The story that follows is phenomenal. Two disciples walk together, broken and distraught because Jesus died. They just can’t make sense of it. A stranger joins them – asks what they’re talking about. And they tell him about Jesus, “a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.” But he was crucified. He died. Verse 21 is telling,
“But we had hoped that he was the one…”
We had hoped. But they also tell him about the news they got from some of the women who went to the tomb. Now they don’t know what to think. And this whole time, they don’t know that they’re talking to Jesus! In verse 25:
“He said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”
This is beautiful. Jesus delivers the message of a lifetime, and weaves the entire Bible together to show them – it was always all leading up to the cross and the resurrection. Messiah had to die. Why?
That question brings us back to the heart of the matter: love. God loves us.
“This is how we know what love is, Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (1st John 3:16).
Jesus had to die because he loves us. He died so we could be forgiven. Romans explains it this way:
“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
That means that all of our sins against God deserve death. He gave us life, we abused it and misused it, and the just punishment is death. But God loves us. He loves us so much that he gave his one and only Son to take our place. On the cross, Jesus – who never sinned – took all of our sin, paid the full price, and died in our place.
But death wasn’t the end. Jesus came to conquerdeath. And God raised him to life. And the power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that raises us. Jesus makes us new. The old is gone, the new is here.
And consider the timing. Jesus died for us while we were sinners (Romans 5:8). He didn’t wait for us to be good. He loved us at our worst – when we were his enemies. That’s some serious love.
This – this phenomenal sacrifice, this unimaginable love – this changes everything. This is hope. Hope for anyone. This love transforms people. Those people I told you about – who love with self-sacrifice – they weren’t always that way. But the love that held Jesus to the cross and the power that raised him from death are alive and active today. And when they get hold of a life – it is something to behold.
How do we live that out today? Read Luke 24, and I’ll meet you back here for Colossians.
For Reflection & Discussion
- Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?
- Romans 5:8 says that God demonstrates his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us. What does that love mean to you?
- Romans 8:11 says that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will also give you new life. Have you seen evidence of that in your life?