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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Barcus & Laura Neal

March 31st, 2024: Key to Faith- Mark 16:1-8

And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17).

The world that day saw a man.  A man beaten, scourged, mocked and despised.  They saw religious leaders say there was nothing to him.  He was a blasphemer.  There were stories of amazing things He had done but can you really believe such things?  The world saw a death, rather cruel, but no different than others before it.  But God.  God the Father saw much, much more.  God the Father saw His son, in obedience to Him, make a way for all of us to get back to a right relationship with the creator of the universe.  The most important event in the history of the world… the Resurrection; the Key to the Christian Faith- an empty tomb!

 The book of Mark is, by most scholars, considered the first of the four gospels written. It is a very simple straight forward account of the life of Jesus as a servant. To fully understand the events of Resurrection Day, read all of the gospel accounts.  It is amazing proof of an amazing God.  There is only one “empty tomb,”  What was done on that day would not be done by anyone else - ever.   Jesus had quickened people back to life as a foretaste of the power and authority He has over our common enemy, death.   Is there anything we fear more than death?  As hard as we try, humans have never been able to stop the curse of death, brought to us by Adam and Eve in the garden.  Satan whispered you won’t surely die, but we did and have been for thousands of years.  And not matter what we invent, or build, or clone, we will continue to die.   Even  those that Jesus brought back to life, had to die again.  Jairus’ daughter, the widow of Nain’s son, and even Lazarus are no longer living among us today.  Jesus, on the other hand, resurrected - a new scenario altogether.  He returned from death with a new body, one that will never die again.  Our lesson today is all about the resurrection.  What did it mean?  How important is it?  The key to our faith is the empty grave.  Let’s dig in and let the celebration of Resurrection Day change your life, give you eternal life, and become the key to your faith! 

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.

Jesus was crucified on Friday and  according to the timing in scripture, around 3pm.  This meant that the body had to be buried before sundown- so they could celebrate the sabbath. Scripture says that Pilot was surprised when he heard that Jesus had passed so quickly. Jesus had told them that He would not be tricked or trapped but that He was in complete control of the situation.   

I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (John 10:14-18)  He was placed in a borrow tomb, wrapped in a clean cloth.  The true burial rituals would have to wait until after the sabbath. 

And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 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.

Very early, at the rising of the sun, the women, come to finish the burial process. Notice they were not expecting Jesus to be gone, although He had told them he would arise and meet them in Galilee.   And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.(Mark 14:27-28).  There journey to the tomb is often remembered by the church with what is commonly called a Sunrise Service.  

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. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.

These are some of the scriptures most gracious and kind words. In the presence of this heavenly being, in a tomb that had been sealed with a giant stone and the royal symbol of Rome, guarded by soldiers, the women are the first to see and hear that Jesus is not there.  This young man simply states what they were told before, understanding I suppose that human minds just can’t comprehend how big, how powerful, how mighty God is.  Jesus isn’t here.. He is risen.  He is no longer dead - see the body is gone!  This place of death is empty!   But that isn’t all, go tell the disciples and Peter.  Their work isn’t done, they are to carry this good news to the rest of the group.  And isn’t it even more amazingly gracious that he calls Peter out individually.  Peter remember, the one that denied him three times, Peter the one that said, not me- I will die with you.  That Peter - is still loved and is mentioned by name. 

The religious of that day, thought they had silenced their blasphemous problem. The cruelty of mocking His authority.  How dare He say He was God? A fake crown made of thorns from the curse of the earth, a robe, a symbolic sign upon the cross that says He is the King of the Jews. Hopeless, helpless to save ourselves, this incredible sin sacrifice by one that knew no sin carries the shame and unbearable guilt of us all.  In truth, they did not know what they were doing.  Our gracious savior’s prayer of forgiveness for us all comes from the cross. 

 The resurrection of Jesus from the grave, is the Key to Faith. Other religious leaders have come and gone… none have left an empty grave.  There is more than just this Life.  There is a resurrection after death.  Jesus showed us his authority and power and our hope by doing it first.  Proving to us that this world is not all that there is; it is not our eternal home.   We glimpsed the perfect world (how things will be when his kingdom comes).  We need not worry about hunger Jesus feeds 5000,  or sickness - blind are given sight, lame walk, people unable to speak -speak.  We will no longer be thwarted by evil- demons are cast out.   Jesus profoundly showed us with many infallible proofs.  

Luke writes - The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But 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 when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:1-11).

What about Easter has changed your life- have you thought about it? The battle between good and evil, between God and Satan, between obeying God or walking in our own wisdom, is still going strong.  Some may say the war is a little more fierce in this later days.  We put this question about Easter to several of our church members and here are the responses we got:

  • Easter means Jesus is Alive - He is stronger than death!

  • I have no fear of death because Jesus is our example - because He lives, we can live also. 

  • By paying the penalty for Adam’s sin, He has given us the ability have our names changed from sinner to redeemed.

  • I realize that it just isn’t on Easter Sunday that I should be thankful.  Every day I need to remember that Jesus is who He says and He loves us this much.

  • I kept thinking about how we celebrate Easter as the resurrection of Christ.  Thankful that He loved ME enough to die on that tree for ME.  To take away My sins, to conquer death, to give us eternal life.  But then it hit me… We need to celebrate everyday that we have a savior that was not only born to save us but also all the pain and suffering he did for us - WOW. Seems kinda skimpy on our part to just celebrate Easter one day out of the year.  Easter is a time that makes me realize how much God Loves us but I want to celebrate Easter everyday now. To think about all Christ did for us by hanging on the cross, dying and resurrection for our sins.

Happy Easter!  Thank you for studying with us! God bless!



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