Summary: Easter came as a surprise to the first followers of Jesus - and it may surprise us, too. Here we find Unexpected Events, Unlikely Witnesses, Unforeseen Grace, and an Unfinished Story.
Good morning everyone!
I hope you’re having a great Easter and maybe had the chance these past few days to look around our Easter Exhibition in the lounge –
A reflective journey through art and multimedia on the theme of ‘Hope in Troubled Times.’
What a timely title that was in a week which saw the terrible attacks in Europe.
Dear friends, Easter tells us that fear and death doesn’t win!
Hope is alive, love wins, salvation is among us!
Because Jesus is alive and that changes everything!
Through his resurrection Jesus is declared with power to be the Son of God!
Satan couldn’t distract him.
Sin couldn’t get into him.
Death couldn’t hold him!
He’s the perfect, spotless, eternal Son of God.
Who said I will lay down my life & I will take it up again.
Easter reminds us that God the Father has accepted the sacrifice of his Son for our sins,
Then crowned him with glory and honour and put EVERYTHING under his feet!
This is the beginning of the new creation.
The promise of a better day is coming.
You know, when I was about 12 I played a terrible trick on my parents.
Don’t try this at home, kids.
I decided to stand in our walk-in kitchen larder until one of them opened it.
At which time I would say BOO very, very loudly and make them jump.
The larder was dark and I had to wait awhile.
But it was worth it in the end.
Sure enough, the door finally opened and I scared the life out of my Mum.
I was in fits of laughter afterwards but I think my dear Mum had to lie down for a bit.
Well, Mark the Gospel writer wants us to know how much of a shock and surprise that first Easter was.
So much so that it left people shaking from head to toe.
I want us to see the 4 surprises of Mark chapter 16:1-8.
The first surprise is…
1. The Unexpected Events, vv1-6
Please look at verses 1-6 with me…
Jesus had been murdered on the Friday afternoon.
Sabbath began on Friday evening and continued until Saturday evening.
So Mark tells us that three women bought spices to anoint Jesus’ dead body the next day.
That was a way of honouring the Master they loved.
These three ladies were basically disciples.
Don’t forget how devastated and traumatised they still were by all they’d seen on Friday.
The men had all run away!
So don’t you love the courage and devotion of these heartbroken women.
V1, there was Mary Magdalene, who was so lovingly devoted to the man who’d changed her life.
Then there was Mary the mother of the disciple known elsewhere, poor chap, as James the Lesser.
And the third woman was Salome.
Matthew 27:56 calls Salome the mother of Zebedee’s sons. James and John.
So it’s early Sunday morning and they’re on their way to care for the body.
And, v3, it starts occurring to them that they might have problems getting into the tomb.
Because of the huge stone that’s sealing it.
And when they get there, v4 they see that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.
So they go in and they see, v5, a young man dressed in a white robe sitting there.
And it scares the living daylights out of them.
And the man says something that changes everything, v6,
Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here…
Some of us will have heard of an American called Lee Strobel.
Strobel was recently writing in a Wall Street Journal blog about when his wife came to faith in Jesus.
Strobel was an atheist and legal editor of the Chicago Tribune.
And when he heard his wife say she’d become a Christian, the first two words to go through his mind were an expletive and the word ‘divorce.’
But as he watched her over the coming months he was intrigued at the positive changes in her character & values.
But still decided he’d investigate the claims of the Christian faith and disprove them so he could save his wife from her crazy beliefs.
The problem was that the more he looked into the life, death & resurrection of Jesus, the more his atheism fell apart.
And much to his surprise, Strobel came to know Jesus for himself.
Maybe you’ve come here today because it’s Easter and that’s what you do at Easter.
You go to church and that’s great.
But maybe God’s got something unexpected for you to discover today!
That it really happened –that Jesus has risen from the dead.
That you came here thinking vaguely about a dead man and instead God is showing you an empty tomb.