Summary: Why did the women head to the tomb while it was dark? What did it take for them to understand that Jesus is alive? Answers to these questions and more are available in this message from our Family Minister Scott Jewell.

Read Mark 16:1-7

Pray. (During the prayer, have the techs turn off all lights, we used black slides so screens appeared to be off as well, act confused for a minute as to what happened, then assure the church that the techs will figure it out as we continue in the dark. The lights will slowly be turned back on, we used three sets, to simulate the increasing light of day as noted through the sermon and the screens will be restored in time to sing the invitation.)

I imagine we’re only feeling a part of what the women in our text were feeling that first Easter Sunday morning. They had just witnessed their leader being crucified on Friday and now they’re here in the dark on their way to finish the preparations of Jesus’ body for burial. Mark 16:2 tells us the sun had just risen, Matthew 28:1 says it was toward the dawn, Luke 24:1 says at early dawn, while John 20:1 says they were walking while it was still dark.

Why would they go so early? I mean, I can’t imagine wanting to get up early to go prepare a body for burial, regardless of who it may be. One part of that could be that the burial process had to be paused for the Sabbath- they couldn’t finish the process sooner because no work was allowed. This was Jesus and they wanted to give him a proper burial, couldn’t stand the thought of leaving his body to rot any longer than they absolutely had to. Another aspect of this could be that being followers of Jesus, they were afraid of being seen. We’re told the disciples all scattered and were hiding in fear. After all, their leader had just been executed, if they were spotted, maybe they’d be next.

I’m not sure how well their plan was thought out, however. Sure, they had collected and purchased all the spices they needed to complete the burial process. They had taken the time to prepare the spices so they could be applied upon their arrival to the tomb. But as the group was walking toward the tomb, they began to discuss that they didn’t know how they were going to move the stone away from the tomb’s entrance.

Ligonier Ministries describes on their website how difficult it would be to roll the stone away. First off, Matthew tells us it’s a great stone, it would be very heavy. Even if our entire men’s breakfast group were to show up, I believe we’d have a hard time rolling the stone away from the entrance of the tomb, it was that heavy. In addition, to prevent the stone moving from a tomb, they would dig a trench with a rut that would place the entrance at the bottom of a small valley. When it was time to put the stone in place, it was a short downhill push that would leave the stone pressing against the opening and having to be rolled uphill to be removed.

But that wasn’t enough for the Jewish leaders. They were worried the followers of Jesus might sneak in by cover of night, steal the body of Jesus, and then declare His resurrection, perpetrating what they thought would be a great lie. They convinced the Romans to use clay to seal the stone to the tomb and then place soldiers at the entrance to ensure no one would have the opportunity to steal the body.

Now, I picture this group of women reaching the crest of a hill discussing what could they possibly do when they look and see the tomb. The stone has already been rolled away from the tomb. (first set of lights were turned on at this point) How could this be? Had someone come before them and finished the preparations that were needed? Was the body of Jesus stolen or had the Roman or Jewish rulers decided they needed to move the body to ensure they’d have the body in case Jesus’ followers claimed that He was now alive? With a sense of panic, they enter the tomb, not sure what they were going to find, yet somehow still expecting to see the body of Jesus. IT’S NOT THERE!!!

Instead, they find a young man, we know him to be an angel, dressed in a white robe. He tells the women, “I know why you’re here- you’re seeking Jesus of Nazareth, but you’re looking in the wrong place. This is a tomb, a place to find the dead, but Jesus isn’t dead- He has risen! Look for yourself, there’s the place where they had laid the body. It’s no longer there because JESUS IS ALIVE!!! Now go, tell the disciples and Peter. Let them know that Jesus will meet them in Galilee.”

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