Summary: Jesus is risen, so don't be confused; instead, be confident and tell somebody the good news!
Many years ago, a man climbed up on the side of the Brooklyn Bridge and was about to jump when a policeman grabbed him and drew him back. The man protested, “You don’t understand how miserable I am and how hopeless my life is. Please, let me go.”
The officer tried to talk him out of it. He told the man, “I will make this proposition to you. You take five minutes and give your reasons why life is NOT worth living, and then I will take five minutes and give my reasons why I think life IS worth living both for you and for me. If at the end of ten minutes you still feel like jumping, I will not stop you.”
So the man spoke for five minutes. The officer spoke for five minutes; and at the end of ten minutes, they joined hands and jumped off the bridge together. (Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations, #6540)
They had lost their hope like a lot of people these days. With the loss of loved ones, the loss of financial security, or the loss of health, many are reeling in sea of despair.
It was not all that different for Jesus’ original followers nearly 2,000 years ago. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Mark 16, Mark 16, where we see how Jesus brought hope to the hopeless.
Mark 16:1-3 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” (ESV)
This was a legitimate concern, because the typical stone which covered cave-like graves in those days weighed two tons! It was usually rolled down an incline in front of the cave into a notch dug out for it in front of the opening. Now, that was simple enough to do, but to move the stone away from the entrance to the tomb was next to impossible. Bible scholars estimate that it would have taken the combined strength of 20 men to roll the stone away. Besides, from Matthew’s account, we know that there was also a whole regiment of Roman soldiers guarding the tomb.
The weight of the stone was on their minds, but the weight of their situation was heavy on their hearts. Their dearest friend and only hope for the future had been nailed to a cross. Jesus was dead, and they were anxious.
Mark 16:4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. (ESV)
The weight of their worries is gone!
Mark 16:5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. (ESV)
First, they were anxious, and now they’re alarmed!
Mark 16:6 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. (ESV)
The angel, described as a “young man”, pointed to the place that was once occupied by Jesus’ body, but there was no body! The only thing that was there were the grave clothes, the strips of cloth lying in a heap with the face cloth “folded up in a place by itself” according to John’s account in John 20 (John 20:6-7).
The mummy wrapped body of our Lord had just disappeared, allowing the wrappings of cloth to collapse right where they were. No one had taken His body, or else the grave clothes would have been taken too (or at least some of them tossed to the side). Jesus has indeed risen! The empty tomb and the empty grave clothes prove it. So there can only be one response.
Mark 16:7 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.” (ESV)
Jesus is risen! Go and tell somebody. Go and tell His disciples AND Peter, the one who had failed Jesus so miserably. Go and tell these discouraged, disheartened, and miserable disciples that Jesus wants to meet them in Galilee. Oh what grace!
Mark 16:8 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. (ESV)
First, they were anxious. Then they were alarmed. Now they’re afraid. Literally, they were beside themselves with fear.
And you would be too! Graveyards are scary places especially in the twilight of dawn. Imagine yourself being there. You find one of the tombs open – a big two-ton rock blown away; and when you get enough nerve to peek in, somebody (perhaps a ghost) is sitting there. I don’t imagine you would stick around too long either.