Summary: This sermon examines the effect that the empty grave had on the women who first arrived at the tomb on Easter morning.
April 16, 2006 Mark 16:1-8
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
The Easter Miracle Isn’t Found in the Tomb
I. Faithful followers still go to the tomb
Proverbs 31:15 describes a good Biblical woman is one who, “gets up while it is still dark” and “sets about her work vigorously.” Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome proved to be good Biblical hard-working women on Easter Sunday. Mark says, “Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb.” Why did they go there? They “bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.” The two Marys had seen the way that Joseph had prepared Jesus’ body - and how hurriedly he did it. They must have felt that it deserved a better wrapping and preparing than what He was given. So they planned ahead to leave as soon as the Law would allow - just after sunrise on the third day - a Sunday.
Think for a moment on what the women exactly were setting out to see and do. They were expecting to see Jesus’ dead body laying in a grave. They intended on unwrapping his dead body from the grave clothes, and packing the grave clothes with more spices - giving it a proper anointing. Although it hadn’t been too long since Jesus’ burial, still imagine digging up a body that had been in the grave for over a day - and having to handle that body and see it face to face. This “job” they were about to perform was a dirty job. Under the old law, it would have made them ceremonially unclean. It would have been an incredibly depressing thing - to hold and touch the very man that they confessed to be the Messiah - the Savior of the world.
How many of you would have felt compelled to go through such work in order to give him a “better” burial? Wouldn’t you have been tempted to say, “let this imposter rot?” These women showed an exemplary faith in what they were about to do. Even though they believed Jesus was dead, they were still going to show honor and respect to His dead body. They didn’t understand all that had happened, yet they still were willing to cling to Christ and touch Him, even when they thought He was going to be an unclean and dead corpse. This is what faith is all about. Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Faith means being willing to cling to something and hope in it - even when every part of your body and your reason tells you that it is dead or that it doesn’t exist.
So I ask you again, how many of you would be willing to go on such a journey? Where is such a faith? Isn’t it sad that our faith has become so sterile - so afraid to touch the dead Christ? It’s found in Christians who will only go to church if it’s at a convenient hour - if it isn’t too early. It’s found in followers who won’t take the time to go to a Good Friday service because it’s “too depressing.” They only go to church to celebrate and have fun - not to confess sins or talk about repentance. It’s found in those who think Bible class on a Sunday morning is just too early to get up. You can see it come to surface in married couples who don’t want to listen to God when He tells them to be faithful to their unloving spouse. It’s evident in those who only offer a prayer of thanks to God when He gives them good health and nice clothes. Yet these same followers refuse to praise God at the grave. They refuse to follow Jesus when He calls them to talk to spiritually dead people about Him. That’s what I call a sterile faith - a faith that doesn’t want to get dirty - that doesn’t want to work. It only wants to touch Christ when He heals - but refused to come near Him in a grave. It only follows Jesus when He ascends into heaven - not when He lays in the grave. These women showed a faith that reflected a great loyalty - to follow Christ even into the grave. It’s a greater faith than most of us - if not all of us have.