Providence Church (CREC)
April 12th, 2009.
Sermon: A New World
Text: Mark 16:1-8
Pastor Uriesou T. Brito
Sermon Text: Mark 16:1-8, NO AUDIO AVAILABLE.
16:1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back-it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, 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 that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Prayer: Our God in heaven, through Your Son death is swallowed up in victory and our labors are not in vain. For this we praise you. Amen.
Sermon: People of God, this is the great story without which no other story would make sense. Without this story every other story would end in death. Without this story we would mourn endlessly for the death of our Christian loved one; without this story there would be no joy, no hope, and we are of all people the most pitied. But Christ is raised from the dead and this is his story according to St. Mark.
We find in the very first verse one of the main reasons Christians have worshipped on Sundays. When the Sabbath was past, that is, when the Jewish Sabbath, which is Saturday, was past, on the first day of the week according to verse 2, they went to the tomb. The resurrection of our Lord is the beginning of the end of the Jewish era. Saturday is no longer to be respected as the day when the people of God gather to worship, but the first day, which is Sunday, is the day of our corporate gathering to worship our risen Lord who was victorious over death. In fact, even the Jewish rabbis recognized this. They referred to Sunday as the “day of the Christians.”
Mark tells us also that the three women who came to anoint the body of our Lord on that first day were present at the crucifixion (vs. 40), at the Lord’s burial (vs. 47), and at the tomb on Sunday morning. This, of course, is a great witness to the resurrection of our Lord. They saw with their own eyes the gospel: the death, burial and the empty tomb. This was a strong affirmation in the first century of the resurrection event. Why? Because “Judaism did not accept the testimony of women in court and so the early church would scarcely have placed them at the tomb unless their presence was a fact of history!” God could have called any of the disciples to be the first witnesses of the empty tomb, but he called three women. We as men take our roles as fathers and husbands very seriously. We are the heralds of the gospel in our families and in the world. But let us not minimize the importance of this event. The women were the first gospelizers. They were the ones that passed on the good news of the resurrection to the apostles and ultimately as the apostles passed on that message to the world. For the women at our congregation, the gospel also demands of you. You too are heir of the grace of God and you too are called to serve the church of God. Your labors, my dear sisters, are not in vain as you raise your children, as you study the Scriptures to show yourself approved, as you teach other women to mature in holiness and knowledge, and as you press on the claims of Christ in all areas of life. The uniqueness of this event is that God gave the least likely in that society a glimpse into the new world.
These women were zealous for their Lord. They were very devoted to their leader, but though they were devoted, “it was a devoted unbelief.” They were going to the tomb to anoint our Lord, which means that they believed Jesus was going to remain dead. This is a reflection not only of the women, but all of the disciples. They all lacked belief in the promised resurrection; the resurrection Jesus had spoken of many times before. My suspicion is that if we were there twenty centuries ago, we too would desire to anoint Jesus’ dead body, rather than see His resurrected body. The good news for us is that we live in a new world; a world of resurrection. As New Covenant believers we are recipients of God’s full revelation and are daily beneficiaries of the resurrection of our Messiah.
There is a small humorous detail in verse 3. As the women went to the tomb, they forgot one little detail” Who will roll away the enormous stone?” The evidence for the gospel accounts are found within the gospel itself. This resurrection narrative is not a narrative of perfect people finding Jesus; it is a narrative of simple women coming to anoint their master. The gospel presents them as very human. This is a very down-to-earth touch to this story. It resembles our own frailties and forgetfulness. After all, how many of us have been driving somewhere only to remember 15 minutes into driving that we forgot that gift or that key to unlock the building. Mark presents a natural event, which leads us to a supernatural event as we come to the empty tomb.
Verse 4 tells us that as the women approached the tomb, the stone had been rolled back. There are no guards present. Most likely they fled when they saw the angel of the Lord rolling the stone away. It is not that the angel rolled the stone so Jesus could come out; rather he rolled the stone so that the world may see the empty tomb. “The angel rolled back the stone not to throw open a way for our Lord to come forth, but to provide evidence to people that he has already come forth.”
Who is this angel? The appearance of this angel is significant as we consider his description. Mark says that he is a young man. This language appears to be a prefiguring of the resurrection life. When our bodies are resurrected they will carry on the appearance of strength and youthfulness. Furthermore, this angel is the messenger of the new world where Satan no longer reigns, where death has been defeated. The angel is the announcer to the world that Christ has been vindicated by God and that the seed of the serpent has been crushed by the seed of the woman.
The text also tells us that the angel is seated at the right side. These peculiar descriptions are not placed in the text without a purpose. They reveal the fullness of the Resurrection narrative, which is a picture of our own future resurrections. The idea of being seated at the right side is the idea of completion. The angel is portraying for us the present status of Jesus. He is no longer enduring the cruelty of death, but He is raised from the dead. To be in the right side is to be experiencing the vindication of God. As a matter of fact, Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father. As Psalm 110 tells us, “The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand.” The seating at the right hand is a sign that Jesus would come back again in power and glory to destroy that wicked generation. The early church believed that to be on the left side was to be in this present life enduring the pain of the human body, but to be on the right side is to have entered the glorified state. Christ has been glorified and exalted above all others.
Finally, the angel is wearing a white robe. They are the messengers of the Lord; they are resurrection heralds. They proclaim the word of the Lord. “In the color symbolism of the NT, white is primarily the heavenly color.” This color is usually used in eschatological and apocalyptic contexts. This means that the angel is dressed in a white robe in the present because he wants to convey the future to the listeners. If the old world was a world of darkness, the new world is a world of light. Christ is the king of this new world. Mark’s account in particular wants to emphasize the kingly nature of Messiah and the resurrection brings out the kingship of Messiah like no other event.
The reaction of the women was typical of those who first see an angel. The text says that they were alarmed or also translated “amazed.” They have come looking for Jesus who was crucified. They are not looking forward to seeing an angelic being. They are looking for a dead body instead of a living Lord. It is no wonder they are alarmed. But the angel speaks directly to their fears: “Do not be alarmed.” You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. If the enemies of God had gone to the tomb that day they would have been alarmed, terrified and they would have continued to be terrified for the rest of their lives. The absence of Jesus’ body caused fear in the enemies of our Lord. But the women were not to remain in fear. The angel knew that they were seeking Jesus out of love. He comforts them with these words: “He has risen; he is not here.” What does this mean to the women and to us today? This means that “if Jesus had stayed in the tomb, our sins wouldn’t be forgiven. You’d still be in the old creation, in the old covenant, under the power of sin and death. If Jesus had not been raised, you could never share in God’s glory. But Jesus has risen and there is a whole new world now.” For the Christian there is no need to fear life after death, no need to fear our future, for Christ is not here, He is risen!
But it is not enough to simply know that He is risen, the women are to be witnesses of the Easter account. The angel tells them to go and tell the disciples. By the mouth of two or three witnesses let this be established. The three Easter witnesses flee from the tomb to tell others. On the surface, our narrative does not end on a happy note. In verse 8 it says that they fled for trembling and astonishment and that they were very afraid. We are not to understand this to say that the women were so terrified that they did not understand what had happened. Rather, they are astonished because they did understand what happened. Amidst this fear and astonishment, there is the realization that their entire view of life has been shattered. They thought that Jesus was a great man sent from God. Though he was a great man, his life was now over. He is dead like every other man will eventually be. Life goes on; the great routine continues. Nothing changes. But now they have been comforted by the angel. They realize that for the first time someone has transcended the routine of human life forever. To be afraid at the empty tomb is like weeping when something wonderful has happened. At that moment as they left that empty tomb their emotions were opened to feel what otherwise has never been experienced in the history of humanity.
This experience was so overwhelming that they kept the knowledge to themselves for a short time. It is from the testimony of these three women that Peter and the other disciples of our Lord and eventually the whole world knows that Christ is risen from the dead!
How shall we then Live?
The power and glory of Easter marks the turning point in human history. Jesus is now being glorified and exalted to the ends of the earth. The Church universal celebrates the Resurrected Lord. And even though we may have heard this Resurrection message for many years, it still comforts us today. We who have been baptized into His name share in his death and resurrection.
The gates of hell will not defeat the church, because Christ is risen. In the face of death and suffering, in the face of economic hardships, the promises of God are yes and amen in the resurrected Lord. The resurrection is the sure hope for all of us Christians that we too will be raised from the dead. Because of the resurrection, we need not fear death. Because of the resurrection, Christ who conquered death gives us life. Because of the resurrection, we can be certain that the world’s injustices, wrongs, and evil will be made right. The question of evil is settled in the resurrection of Messiah. The old world of darkness is gone, behold the world of light and righteousness has come. Christ is risen; He is risen indeed! In the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
 A quotation from Rev. Robert Rayburn taken from Str.-B,I,1052.
 This is quoted from a sermon by Rev. Robert Rayburn on Mark 16.
 Douglas Wilson, Blog.
 Bede, Homilies on the Gospels 2.7.
 Gregory the Great expounds on this in his Homilies, 21. Ancient Christian Commentary, pg. 243.
 William Lane, NICNT, The Gospel of Mark, pg. 587.
 This quotation is taken from John Barach’s sermon on Matthew 28. Personal correspondence.
 Mark 16:6
 Barach, sermon on Matthew 28.
 Rob Rayburn, sermon on Mark 16. Faith Presbyterian Church.