By Chris Chambers
Pastor, Brush Creek Baptist Church, Brush Creek
In Mark 15 we are told of the death and burial of Jesus Christ. His death occurred during a dark time over the earth and brought an even darker time to those who followed him. Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, boldly requested the body and forever marked himself out as a follower of Christ.
He took the body and placed it in his own family’s tomb. Death seemed to have won. Even the one who had brought others to life had succumbed to the ultimate enemy of all. The world of those who followed Christ would never be the same. They were hiding and hoping they would not be next.
Then, in Mark 16, the women who went to the tomb started before sunrise to properly do what there had not been time to do just three days earlier. They were expecting a difficult time rolling back the stone that covered the grave. “Astonished” and “overwhelmed” are the words Mark used to describe the experience they had when they arrived. The stone was rolled back and the tomb was empty, except for the messenger who told them, “He is risen!” In a span of less than 72 hours, they had gone from hopeful to hopeless to full of hope.
It is significant that a member of the Sanhedrin placed the body of Christ in a known location and that women discovered the empty tomb. An enemy taking responsibility for the body, instead of loyal followers, and women being the first witnesses of the empty tomb are embarrassing elements a conspirator would not have made up. They were reported because that is what happened. This is not a hoax or a conspiracy. “Jesus lives” is truth!
The earliest manuscripts of Mark end at chapter 16 verse 8. But, the earliest testimony of the resurrection is in I Corinthians 15. Paul describes Jesus appearances to many people after His death, burial and resurrection. Paul also says if Jesus did not rise again, we are to be pitied more than anyone else because our faith is in something worthless and our sins are not forgiven. “He is risen!” is one of the most significant statements ever made. Jesus lives! This is the key to your entire faith. Your eternity hinges on this being true. What you do with that belief determines if you spend eternity in heaven or in hell. He lives to prepare a place for us according to John 14:2-3. In Hebrews 7:25 we are told He lives to intercede for us with the Father. Because Jesus lives, we have forgiveness of sins, victory over death and hope for eternity.
The risen Jesus changed the entire outlook for his followers from the darkest gloom of despair to the brightest hope of eternity. Because Jesus lives, what does that mean to you? Have you let his resurrection change your eternity? He lives to save you. He lives to give you hope. He lives to love you.