Summary: This sermon addresses three questions concerning the resurrection of Christ: "Why was the resurrection so important?", "How are we expected to respond to the resurrection?", and "What should the church do in light of the resurrection?"
THREE QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER CONCERNING THE RESURRECTION
Text: Mark 16:1 – 20
Have you heard the story about the eight-year old in Sunday School on Easter Sunday? Johnny’s family weren’t regular church attenders…as a matter of fact, they only went to church on Easter Sunday. Johnny and his family walked through the door of the church, and sang along as the choir leader led the congregation in “He Arose.” After a few announcements, the children were dismissed to Sunday School classes.
With a little bit of help, Johnny found his class, and soon found himself surrounded by a dozen other giggly eight-year olds. Miss Martha started the class by saying, “Hello boys and girls! Do you know what special day today is?” Five of the kids in the class screamed out “Easter!” just as loud as they could. “Fantastic!” replied Miss Martha. “Now, who knows why Easter is so special?”
“I know, I know!” cried out a little girl from the corner! “It’s because of Jesus!”
“That’s right Suzie! Jesus is what makes Easter special! What did Jesus do?”
“I know, I know!” Jeremy shot up his hand and hopped up and down. “Ok Jeremy, what did Jesus do?” “He died on the cross!” he replied. “Well that’s right, but that’s not all. What else happened?”
“I know, I know!” yelled Tammy. “They put him in a grave and he stayed there for three days!” Miss Martha said, “Excellent Tammy! That is exactly right! But that’s still not all….what else happened?”
The kids looked puzzled for a moment, but Johnny thought he remembered this part of the story from last year, so he shot up his hand and shouted, “I know, I know!”
“Johnny! It’s great to have you back with us for Easter! Can you tell us the rest of the story?”
“Sure!” Johnny replied confidently. “After three days, he came out of the grave and saw his shadow, so there were six more weeks of winter!”
There are lots of people that are confused about the resurrection, not just eight-year olds. There are even people that are regular church attenders that sometimes have mistaken notions about what happened on that first Easter morning. Today, I am going to ask three questions concerning the resurrection, and then explore the answers to those questions.
The first question is, “Why was the resurrection so important?” I mean, we know that Jesus came to die for our sins. In Mark 10:45, Jesus said, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” We read how Jesus did exactly that in Mark 14 and 15. Mark records His betrayal at the hands of Judas, the desertion of all His disciples, His sham of a trial, the fierceness of His beating, the mockery by the religious leaders, and the difficulty that He had just in getting to Calvary. Mark records a cry of despair, and then a cry of victory as Jesus died in our place. But why doesn’t the story end there? Why wasn’t that enough? Why did He have to rise again?
I believe that there are two reasons. First of all, Jesus had to rise again because He said He would rise again. Three times in the book of Mark, Jesus tells His disciples that He was going to Jerusalem to die, and that He would rise again on the third day. The last of these times is in Mark 10:33, 34. Jesus said, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests,and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.”
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were constantly warned about listening to false prophets. Deuteronomy 18 says that the Israelites were to test the words of a prophet to see if they were from God. If what they said did not come to pass, their words were not from God, and they were not to be listened to. If Jesus had prophesized that He was going to go to Jerusalem and be put to death, and then rise on the third day, and it didn’t happen, Jesus would be a false prophet, a liar, and He would have had to die for His own sins, not ours. Paul declares this in 1 Corinthians 15:13 – 17. “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.”