Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Tomb is Empty - a sermon based on Mark 16:1-8 and 14-15

Developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett and preached at Faith Community Church, Barre, VT, on April 24, 2011.

Verse 1 - When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so they could go and anoint Him.
• In those days they did not have modern embalming methods so they prepared a body for burial by putting spices in a big cloth that they wrapped around the body.
• The Jewish faith required them to rest on the Sabbath, so they were not able to care for Jesus’ body until Sunday.
• Three ladies were brave enough to face the Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb.
• Are we willing to face the criticism of others for our belief in Christ?
• We should be willing to stand up for our faith no matter what.

Verse 3 - They were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb for us?"
• The ladies discussed how they would move the stone that was across the entrance.
• This stone would have been large enough to cover the entrance, which would have been between waist and chest high for an adult.
• The stone would have been fitted into a slot in the ground that sloped down.
• That made the stone easy to slide over the entrance to the tomb as it rolled down into the slot, but very hard to move it back out.
• In those days grave robbers were a real problem, which is why tombs had such systems to make it hard to get them open.
• It would have taken quite a force of strong men to open the tomb. There was no way these three ladies were going to be able to do it themselves.
• The women realized that the stone was a problem to be solved, but they walked by faith toward the tomb anyway.
• Many of us have a “stone” that keeps us from Jesus.
• Maybe we struggle with believing in the whole concept of God.
• Maybe it is the miracles in the Bible that we have trouble accepting as fact.
• Maybe it was some hypocrite we met along the way that discouraged us from believing.
• Everyone has some “stone” we have to overcome in order to believe.
• If we do not move toward Jesus, believing that somehow that stone will be removed, then we will never experience Jesus.
• We must stop looking for excuses not to believe, and start trusting God to help us find a way to overcome our doubts.

Verse 4 - Looking up, they observed that the stone—which was very large—had been rolled away.
• As the ladies neared the tomb, they looked up and saw that stone was already rolled away.
• When we start toward Jesus, even when we still have questions and difficulties, we begin to discover that our stumbling blocks have become stepping stones toward the Savior.
• Take one step toward Jesus and the rest will be easier to take.

Verse 5 - When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; they were amazed and alarmed.
• The ladies saw an angel as they entered the tomb.
• The other Gospels tell us there were actually two angels present, but the ladies saw this one first and he spoke to them.
• The ladies were both amazed and alarmed by the angel’s presence and his message.
• When we first begin to sense God at work in our lives, we may be both amazed and alarmed.
• We are amazed because can hardly believe God cares about what is going on in our lives.
• We are alarmed because we wonder what God might require of us if we follow Him.

Verse 6 - "Don't be alarmed," he told them. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He is not here! He has been resurrected! See the place where they put Him.
• The angel told the ladies not to be alarmed.
• While we may be amazed at God’s work in our lives, we do not need to be alarmed or afraid.
• Because God loves us so much, His plans will ALWAYS be best for us, even if we do not understand them.
• While there are many religions in the world, all religions are not all equal.
• Though other great religious teachers may have done good deeds and helped others, when they died and were buried, their bodies remained in their tombs.
• If we found the tombs of Buddha, Hare Krishna, Gandhi, Stalin, Joseph Smith, or any other religious leader, their body would still be there.
• Jesus is the only founder of a world religion whose tomb is empty!
• And the empty tomb is proof of God’s power to turn what looks bad into something wonderful!
• The empty tomb is not a myth. I have seen the tomb and touched the place where Christ lay. Here is the picture of Kay and I in the empty tomb:
• Here is a picture of Kay and I in the empty tomb in Jerusalem where Christ was laid:

Here is a picture of me coming out of the empty tomb in which Christ was laid:

Verse 7 - But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there just as He told you.'
• The angel told the ladies to go and tell the disciples and Peter that Jesus was alive.
• Why would the angel tell the ladies to make sure Peter knew Jesus was alive?
• Peter had denied Jesus just when Jesus needed him most. Peter had failed the Lord.
• The angel wanted the ladies to specifically tell Peter that Jesus was alive so that Peter would realize there was hope for him to right what he had done wrong.
• Sometimes we fail in our faith and let Jesus down.
• But since Jesus is alive we can still come to Him and fix the wrong things we have done.

Verse 8 - So they went out and started running from the tomb, because trembling and astonishment overwhelmed them. And they said nothing to anyone, since they were afraid.
• The ladies ran from the tomb because they were overwhelmed.
• An interesting thing happens to some people when they experience God for the first time, they become so overwhelmed with it that they actually run from the experience.
• We have to take time to reflect on our spiritual experiences so that we can embrace them instead of run from them.
• Easter is a good time to reflect on what God is doing in our lives and ask ourselves if we are running from God or embracing Him.

Verse 14 - Later, He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table. He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who saw Him after He had been resurrected.
• Jesus appeared to the apostles and rebuked them for their unbelief.
• Rebuke is a strong word, but the disciples needed a strong word to get their act together.
• Though no one wants to go to church EVERY week and get beat up spiritually by the sermon, sometimes we need a good “kick in the backside” to get us going.
• We should consider ourselves “kicked”!!!!

Verse 15 - Then He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.
• When Jesus appeared to the apostles, He gave them a command to preach the gospel to everyone.
• Experiencing the resurrection power of Jesus is not something we are supposed to keep to ourselves.
• We must share it with everyone we can.

• We must move toward Jesus even when we have doubts because somehow the doubts will be taken away.
• We may be amazed at what God is doing, but we need not be alarmed because God’s plan is always best.
• We may let Jesus down, but He gives us another chance. Let’s not waste this chance!
• We may need a good rebuke from time to time, but if we listen and respond to it, we can become a powerful witness for the Gospel.

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