Summary: Surprises related to the Easter story.
How many of you like surprises? If you are very young, your immediate response is, "Oh, boy! I love surprises!" If you are a little older, you’re probably a little more cautious. You have learned that not all surprises are happy ones. If you missed Easter, I have a surprise for you. I want us to go back to the Easter event and I want to share with you the "Six Surprises of Easter."
Our text is Mark chapter 16. I will not debate with you the authenticity of verses 9-20.
(Although, much of what is contained in those verses is recorded in the other gospels.) But, I believe that this chapter records what I would like to call the six surprises of Easter.
Surprise #1: The Stone Was Rolled Away (vv.1-4)
There had not been time to render the last services to the body of Jesus. The Sabbath had intervened and Jews were prohibited from performing any services on the Sabbath.
So, as soon as possible, after the Sabbath, these women set out to perform this task.
They were worried about one thing. Tombs had no doors. When the word door is mentioned it really means opening. In front of the opening was a groove, and in the groove ran a circular stone as big as a cart-wheel. These women knew that it was quite beyond their strength to move a stone like that. But when they reached the tomb,
they received the first surprise of Easter. The stone was rolled away.
The importance of that single fact is not that the stone was removed so that Jesus could get out. He had already been resurrected. The importance of that event was that the stone was rolled away so that the two Mary’s and Salome could go in. Which leads us to surprise #2.
Surprise #2: The Tomb Was Empty (v.5)
On the surface, this second surprise does not seem to be terribly significant to the plot of the story. These women went to the tomb. They expected to find a massive stone in place ... a barrier to what they intended to do. When they arrived they were surprised
because the stone was gone. You may think it insignificant, but I believe that this is one of the crucial points of this story.
These women went to the tomb with certain expectations.
• They went there expecting a dead body... a cadaver
but instead they found a live human being.
• They went there expecting to anoint the dead ...
but they left trembling with astonishment.
• They went there expecting death....
but they found resurrection.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe that this is one of the most significant points of this story. Jesus always surpasses our expectations. There are many people today who are living for themselves and when they hear that Jesus can provide something that they cannot provide for themselves, they listen in disbelief. But, I am here to tell you today, that if you will devote:
• your life,
• your livelihood,
• your family,
• your thoughts,
• your time,
• your talents,
• your all to Him,
He will give you a life that you cannot believe. Jesus will open the floodgates of blessing on your life in such a way that nothing will ever be able to overwhelm you.
Neither height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate you from the love of Christ. These women were amazed because Jesus surpassed their expectations and that is just like Him because He always has and always will
go far beyond all that ask or even think if we will seek Him first.
The Psalmist wrote, "Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it." Many people miss Easter in their lives because they cannot believe that if they will delight themselves in the Lord that He will surpass their expectations.
The second surprise of Easter is not so much that the tomb was empty but that Jesus surpasses our highest expectations ..... if ...we will make Him number one in our lives.
Surprise #3: Jesus is Always Ready to Forgive (v. 7)
Of all of the disciples he could have named, it was a surprise that he would single out Peter to be mentioned in this account. Why didn’t he say, go tell the disciple Jesus loved, go tell the apostle John, that Jesus will meet you in Galilee?
If we go back to chapter 14, we find Peter in the courtyard, denying that he ever knew Jesus. Of all the disciples that could have been mentioned it is surprising that Peter is singled out. But, Jesus wanted to be certain that Peter would be among the disciples when He met them in Galilee. How that message must have cheered Peter’s heart when he received it! He must have been tortured with the memory of his disloyalty, and suddenly there came a message for him. It was characteristic of Jesus that He thought, not of the wrong Peter had done Him but of the remorse he was undergoing. Jesus was far more eager to comfort the penitent sinner than to punish the sin. Someone said, "The most precious thing about Jesus is the way in which he trusts us on the field of our defeat."