The Stone was Rolled Away and the Tomb is Empty

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

6 “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. 7 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.'”

8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. Mark 17:4-8

In most instances in the Bible, the first thing an angel says is, “Don’t be afraid.” I conclude therefore that angels must be terrifying in appearance in some way.

The ladies had just been talking about the dilemma of the large boulder covering the tomb. How could they possibly get it moved? Problem solve though they don’t know exactly how it was done, only that the terrifying angel had something to do with it.

And now this same angel gave the best possible news they could hear: He’s not here. He has risen!

Three women in the entirety of the world have the distinction of being the first to hear of His resurrection from God’s messenger.

They didn’t have time to think about it; they just ran back to the other disciples.

These ladies had the best news in the world to tell their fellow sojourners.

You could just picture these ladies skipping and dancing their way back to the other disciples. The news would rock their world as well,

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is, in fact, the best news anyone on the great planet can hear.

The stone was rolled away.
The tomb is empty.
The Son is risen.

Glory, Hallelujah!

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Surprise!

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” Mark 16:1-3

The three ladies had a problem on their hands. The stone was heavy, and it took men much stronger than themselves to roll it away.

But like every problem is a viable solution. When they got there they’d figure it out. They’d have to or their task wouldn’t get done. Perhaps they’d hire a few men nearby to help roll it away.

They had no idea what they were about to encounter and their lives would be foreever changed by the revelation. For now, though, they were thinking of ways to get that stone rolled away.

Have you ever been surprised by something you were not expecting? This, of course, goes for the good and bad surprises. Both are equally shocking at first hearing or sight. Then as time passes, the reality sets in and life slowly returns to normal.

It’s like heaven. We have a limited view of what that will be like. We get smatterings of information from the Bible but there will be surprises waiting for us. Big surprises. Small surprises. But we merely speak of what we don’t know now. Soon it’ll all be revealed. But for now, we wait and dream and serve the King of Kings in the way we know how.

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They Believed a Lie

27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. [28] 29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him. Mark 15:27-32

There were a whole lot of insults flying around that day. He couldn’t escape them. Why did people turn so quickly? For a while he could do no wrong in the eyes of the people. It goes back to the old adage, “if you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth in some people’s minds.” The leaders had been filling the people with lie after lie about Jesus so now they were beginning to believe it themselves.

The truth is, even though the leaders said they’d believe if He came down from the cross, that couldn’t be further from the truth. They had no intention of believing Jesus because it would destroy the power structure they had set up for themselves. They weren’t after truth; they were consumed with keeping the power they had and gaining more.

Many people you talk to will tell you that they’ll wait until their death bed to put their trust in Christ. They have no idea when death will come knocking at their door, but they’re adamant that they’ll believe when the time comes. Like the religious leaders who mocked Jesus and said they’d believe when the conditions were right, these people hold false views of when death will befall them. And I doubt they’d believe, because if they really believed that, they’d begin their journey today. Or perhaps they don’t quite understand the journey at all and believe it to be something they’ve made up in their minds.

No, those who are waiting for an obscure time and date to put their trust in Christ are fooling themselves. Like the rich young ruler that Jesus talked with, they are not far from the kingdom.

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The Man Had Two Choices

51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind. Mark 13:51-52

It’s pretty clear from the context that this man and the other disciples was terrified. We don’t know who he is and most theories about him are mere speculation. It’s important to note, though, that he was also captured by the soldiers, but they obviously didn’t have a tight hold on him. As Pastor John Piper noted, this man would rather flee into the night naked than to be captured and taken by the soldiers. Both scenarios were humiliating and uncertain.

While we don’t know the identity of this man, it’s probably a given that he was one of the remaining eleven. If that’s the case, then we know he saw the light and returned to the master later, and would be one of the followers to turn the world upside down.

Even though all 11 disappeared, Jesus was very much in control. He knew what He was doing, where He was going, and the outcome. It really was all going according to plan. Recall in verse 49 that he said to his captors, “But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”

He had the situation well in hand back then; He has world events well in hand now.

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A Lifelong Pursuit

37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” Mark 13:37-42

How could they?

How could these disciples fall asleep at the most important time in their Savior’s live on earth, especially after He explicitly told them repeatedly not to?

They were tired. Whether physically, emotionally, or even spiritually, they were tired. They obviously didn’t understand the dire situation Jesus was in. Of course they didn’t know what to say to Him. They blew it. Even a “we’re sorry” would not cut it this time.

And yet, it had to be this way. All of these things had to happen to “pave” the road to the cross. Still, they blew it and knew it.

So do we. Every day. Just as they knew the right thing to do but didn’t do it, so do we. Call it sin nature, prone to sin, prone to wander, penchant for evil, yielding to temptation, what have you, we still don’t do the right things even when we know what the right things are.

But we press on. We repent and move on. We pray God gives us the strength to resist next time, and He will when we ask and stay close to Him. Too often, though, we move away from the safe and secure spot we enjoy.

Then again, we lean on Him for more strength. That’s the key. Leaning in, early and often. Enjoying His presence. Recognizing His presence. Remembering what His presence feels like. Remembering what peace we experience in His presence.

That’s where we want to be. And stay. It is a lifelong pursuit.

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