Summary: Today's lesson is about Jesus' resurrection and its significance.
Last time we saw that forgiveness is a gift, paid for by Jesus Christ. We don’t deserve it, and we can’t earn it. And that is grace: God behaving towards us in a way we simply don’t deserve. We saw this in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” In other words, it’s faith in what Jesus has done that saves us. Nothing else.
We have seen that Christ’s death brings us forgiveness. This week we will see what his resurrection adds to that.
All of us know we are going to die—the only uncertainty is exactly when we will die. We are mortal, and each one of us will die. We all have a terminal disease. It’s called “life,” and its fatality rate is 100%.
The question I have for you is this: How do you cope with the certainty of death? And not just the certainty of your own death, but also the deaths of those people you love.
Ministers sometimes have difficult tasks. One of them is standing at the graveside, and saying words like these from Psalm 103:15-16, “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.”
But that’s the truth. Our lives are brief, and however flourishing they have been, they soon come to an end.
This is a miserable start to the sermon, isn’t it?
Now, Jesus was in his early thirties when he died. And yet here we are, two thousand years later, still discussing his life. You see, if Jesus had not risen from the dead, we would probably never even have heard of him. But his resurrection changes everything.
At the end of his account of Jesus’ death, Mark focuses on three women who have watched the whole gruesome ordeal. Please turn with me to Mark 15, and I will start to read from verse 40:
40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. 45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. 46 And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.