Who is Jesus? The Resurrected King (Mark 15:39-16:8)

Publié le 1 mai 2022 dans Traductions

Sermon preached by Pastor Vincent BOURREL on 17th April 2022

Christians gather on Sunday morning because Jesus rose on Easter Sunday. This means that the resurrection is not the epilogue to Christ’s life, but the culmination of his atoning work. Without the resurrection, the cross would have no meaning (Jesus would be just another crucified man) and we would have no hope of being saved from sin and death. 1 Cor. 15:14, 17, 19-20. « And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith … you are still in your sins … If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. » But because Jesus Christ is risen, the justice of God is satisfied, the penalty for sin has been paid, death has been conquered… 

Basically, it would be enough to prove that the resurrection did not take place for Christianity to collapse like a house of cards. 

The resurrection of Christ is an intellectual challenge, because it is not something that has been observed or reproduced by others. And to reach this conviction one must first examine the facts, then observe the reactions, and finally understand the implications. 

EXAMINE THE FACTS 

Bring in the Experts and Balthazar. 

For there to be a resurrection, there must first be a death. We must be certain of his death. 

Death is certain. The witnesses: The centurion is an officer in the Roman army who supervises the execution of Jesus. He had already seen crucified people agonizing for hours, but he had never seen a crucified person suffer with such dignity, for such a condemnation (this is the king of the Jews), offer forgiveness and eternal life to a repentant robber, talk and comfort his mother and one of his disciples. From noon to 3:00 p.m. the centurion stood guard in an inexplicable and disquieting darkness, then when daylight returns he hears Jesus triumphantly shout « all is accomplished » and breathed his last. His confession is immediate: « This man was truly the Son of God. He says « was » because he died. Three women are also present v.40 (@ his death), v.47 (@ his burial), and v.16.1 (@ his resurrection). Mark mentions the names of the women 3 times (in 9 verses). Why does he do this? They were there. They are still alive, go and ask them.  

Another witness is Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin who did not participate in the decision of the council to kill Jesus. He is a disciple of Jesus, he believed, but maybe until then in a secret way for fear of the Jews. Now he dares to ask Pilate for the body of Jesus to give it a burial. Joseph asked for the body of Jesus to be buried on the day of his death (Friday) because the next day was a Sabbath and no funeral could be held on the Sabbath.  

Pilate was surprised that he had died so soon and asked the centurion to make sure that he was dead. The crucifixion was an infamous and long death. To shorten the agony, the legs of the crucified around Jesus were broken, so that their asphyxiation would be accelerated. But when they came to break Jesus’ legs, he was already dead, and to make sure of it, a soldier pierced his side (the heart). The centurion, the same one who directed his execution and who had heard him take his last breath and die, confirms the death and Pilate then gives the corpse (v.45) to Joseph. 

He is buried, v.46 Joseph wraps the body in a sheet, the gospel of John specifies that Nicodemus (leader of the Jews) is with him, together they deposit the body in a tomb (in the rock) and sealed it with a stone. Here again the women are present and locate the place to return and embalm the body when the Sabbath is over. 

He is risen, v.6. They come to embalm the body of Jesus but it had already been done (v.14.8). The tomb is empty, the stone is rolled away, not to let Jesus out, but so that the women may see that he is no longer there. The messenger (the angel) also testifies that Jesus died by crucifixion, but adds « he is risen, see for yourself, he is going before you in Galilee, you will meet there. As he told you (ch 8, 9, 10 and 14.28) as a prophecy. Things happened just as Jesus said they would. He said that he

would see them again in Galilee and they went there and saw him, they talked to him, they touched him, they even ate with him. And this is what gave them the courage to proclaim the gospel message in a hostile world. He appeared several times and to many people at the same time (500 brothers at the same time, some of whom died but most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote the 1st letter to the Corinthians, about 25 years after the fact). 

=> Jesus had to die because our sins deserve death. 

=> He had to rise from the dead because it is the proof that he has accomplished our salvation. 

OBSERVE THE REACTIONS 

These are facts, Mark is not trying to explain how things happened, he is simply saying that they happened. The facts are clear. 

That it is hard to believe is understandable. The disciples alive at the time of these events found it hard to believe. But they did believe it and were even willing to suffer and die for it. You don’t die for a lie that you know is a lie. 

Besides, there is a disturbance that is not hidden by Mark. V.8 The women came out of the tomb and fled. Fear and confusion had seized them. This is the expected reaction to such an extraordinary miracle. There is no scientific explanation for what happened. This is the reaction of the witnesses to Jesus’ miracles. 

When Jesus calms the sea and the wind with a word, the disciples are « greatly afraid » (4:41), when he delivers the demon-possessed man from Gadara, the inhabitants are « afraid » when they see the man came to his senses (5:15), when he heals the woman who has been bleeding for 12 years, she falls at Jesus’ feet « afraid and trembling » (5:33), at the transfiguration the disciples are « terrified » (9:6)… it is not surprising that the women were also terrified when they discovered the empty tomb and the news of Jesus’ resurrection. The opposite would have been surprising. 

Science does not explain everything, it is disturbing, if Jesus is resurrected, then there is life after death? 

They are overwhelmed by this disturbing and wonderful reality. And this is the effect Mark seeks by ending his gospel in v.8. According to most biblical scholars, vv. 9-20 do not belong to the original gospel, which is why they are in your Bible in square brackets or preceded by a note that this section is absent from most reliable ancient manuscripts. 

The resurrection is such a dramatic and powerful ending that it leaves the women speechless and the narrator without words. The purpose of the Gospel is to demonstrate that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Having amply proved this, there was no need to add further proof. 

The women are not afraid for their safety, they are just stunned, they need to settle down and realize. 

If they had reacted by saying « well, he’s not dead anymore », their reaction would reveal that they did not understand the implications of this resurrection.

For 2,000 years opponents of Christianity have been desperately trying to deny the resurrection. They have been unsuccessful. The evidence is irrefutable. 

But the resurrection causes confusion because the resurrection of Christ necessarily has personal implications. 

UNDERSTANDING THE IMPLICATIONS 

Christ’s resurrection proves that he is who he claimed to be: The Son of God. 

=> We can no longer pretend that Jesus is just a good rabbi. He is God, the creator, and we will all have to appear before him to be accountable for our lives. 

The resurrection guarantees that his death was not an accident but God’s eternal plan. 

=> It means that he established a plan of salvation for mankind. To despise this plan is to be lost for eternity. 

The resurrection of Christ guarantees the effectiveness of his sacrifice for us. I need not fear condemnation because Jesus died for me, and the proof is that he has risen. 

And the immediate implication of this justification is peace. Ro 5.1 « Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Christ guarantees a happy ending, evil will be defeated permanently and we will escape death. This is good news – sin, the devil and death do not have the last word. Life here on earth is not easy, for some it is even difficult, painful and it ends in death. The resurrection offers perfect consolation, meaning to our trials, and an eternal reward 2Co 4.17 « For our light and momentary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that is far beyond comparison ». 

The resurrection swallows up our failures and sorrows. v.7 « to his disciples and to Peter » all his disciples fled when he was arrested and Peter denied knowing Jesus three times under oath. But Jesus met up with his disciples « and Peter » afterwards: it is the proof that Peter can still have fellowship with Christ. Peter does not have to fear. He is loved, forgiven, included in the plan. Jesus will continue his work in him and with him. 

Since he is alive we can still pray to him, repent, and ask for his help. 

It is not over for the one who has denied, who has failed, who has sinned. That is why the angel could say to the women « do not be afraid, do not be alarmed ». 

CONCLUSION 

Isn’t this a wonderful encouragement for us? 

Do you remember how Mark began his gospel? 

1.1 « The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God ». The 16 chapters we have studied over the last few months are just the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ the Son of God. He is alive because he is risen, and he continues his work in our lives today by transforming hearts and bringing peace. Is it time for you today

to receive his forgiveness and peace? For you too to pass from death to life, believing in the good news of Jesus who died and rose for you? 

And you who have already believed but have fallen into sin, who denied him by your conduct, Jesus is not finished with you. Today is a day of celebration Jesus has risen, he is not finished with you, he goes before you 

And with you, he goes before you, he waits for you, he will accompany you. 

And you who are discouraged by your personal situation, complicated relationships, health problems, material difficulties… The resurrected Christ is the promise of a happy ending, of eternal consolation for you. 

Let’s go and proclaim this good news! 

Questions 

How does Mark make it clear that Jesus really died? Why was it necessary for Jesus to die? 

What do you think of the women’s reaction in v.8? Did it last? 

How does this word of the angel in v.7 « to his disciples and to Peter… » encourage you in your Christian walk?