Jesus is our Resurrected Hero! Regardless of what is happening in the world right now that might tempt us to believe otherwise; the risen Christ reminds us that He is able to bring hope where there is despair, joy where there is grief, love where there is indifference, trust where there is fear, new life where there is death.
Some years ago, the Pepsi Company had an advertising slogan that said this, “Come alive with the Pepsi generation!” Now that sounded good here in North America, but it didn’t quite cut it when it was translated into different languages around the world. In fact in Taiwan, when the slogan was translated, it promised something that Pepsi couldn’t deliver either. Instead of, “Come alive with the Pepsi generation!” the translated slogan read as this, “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead!”
Now I don’t know if that increased, or decreased, their sales, but there is a world of difference between the two meanings, isn’t there? What their slogan promised was too impossible to be true. But the good news for us is this – what is impossible for man is not impossible for God.
The reality of the resurrection is the foundation of our faith. In Mark 16, at the empty tomb three instructions were spoken to the women: “Do not fear – Come and see – Go and tell.” They apply to us today as well!
The women who come to the tomb in Mark 16 are not only grieving as some of us are today who have lost a loved one, but they are in the shock that comes in the first days of grief and loss because a relatively young person they love was killed in an act of violence. Today there are too many grieving people who find themselves in a similar place as these women. All throughout our nation and indeed the world – families of little children, teenagers, and adults are mourning the loss of loved ones who were killed by acts of violence. The women we meet that first Easter morning can relate to those who are grieving such losses.
. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 6 “Don’t be alarmed,”
Because Our Hero is Alive we can Overcome Fear
As the women went to Jesus’ tomb early in the morning on the first day of the week, the question foremost in their minds was. “who would roll away the large stone blocking the entrance to the tomb so they could anoint Jesus’ dead body?” They are worrying about who will roll away the stone for them because that obstacle is too large for them to move on their own, but when they arrive God has already taken care of it. Often times in life we spend many wasted hours worrying about things that never take place or that we never have to face. God has gone before us and cleared the path, made a way, or rolled away the stone. This is a lesson of Easter that is often overlooked in the amazing news of Jesus’ resurrection, but it is a very important thing to remember. Rather than worrying about how we will roll away stones that are so large and heavy and seemingly immovable and getting all stressed out about it and putting pressure on ourselves to figure it out, we’re invited to learn from the women’s experience to trust God for our future.
This message of hope against our fears is so needed today! I read an article recently from American Psychiatric Association that compared to the results of a similar poll a year earlier, 39 percent of adults in the U.S. are more anxious today than they were a year ago. They add that anxiety is rising across all age groups and demographic categories. Anxiety and fear may be common and on the rise but we are taught by Jesus “not to worry” and by Paul or “not to be anxious”
Hannah Whitall Smith author of The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, wrote, “Most Christians are like a man who was toiling along the road, bending under a heavy burden, when a wagon overtook him, and the driver kindly offered to help him on his journey. He joyfully accepted the offer, but when seated, continued to bend beneath his burden, which he still kept on his shoulders. “Why do you not lay down your burden?” asked the kind-hearted driver. “Oh!” replied the man, “I feel that it is almost too much to ask you to carry me, and I could not think of letting you carry my burden too.” And so Christians, who have given themselves into the care and keeping of the Lord Jesus, still continue to bend beneath the weight of their burden, and often go weary and heavy-laden throughout the whole length of their journey.”
The women are acting in love and devotion in going to the tomb, but they are burdened with worry about the stone blocking their path. Yet God has already gone ahead of them, even as God goes ahead of us to prepare the way for us when are seeking to live in faith and obedience. If you have a stone you’re worried about rolling away, I encourage you to release your burden to God and trust the Mighty One to roll it away for you.
Next they were invited to “Come and See” that the tomb was empty.
You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.
There is much evidence for the empty tomb. A former atheist Lee Strobel researched the empty tomb of Christ and became a believer. He has written great books such as, The Case for Christ.
In this short 2 minute video, he shares 4 Evidences or reasons to believe the tomb was empty.
No one could keep Jesus in the grave. The religious big shots who wanted him out of the way failed to do it; the power of the Roman army and justice system could not hold him; even the lack of faith on the part of the disciples couldn’t keep him dead. They expected to find Jesus when he promised he would not be there. God’s power to raise Jesus is greater than any power in the universe. Trust God’s promises. He is greater than all our problems or infirmities. The Resurrection assures us that Christ is alive and real.
Lastly they were invited to Go and Tell Others
7 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.’
These three women faced three overwhelming problems as they set out to honor Jesus’ body. First, they were grieved, sad and depressed their friend was gone, second the soldier guard would prevent them; third the rock in the tomb’s doorway would be too heavy to move; and fourth as women their testimony to such a miraculous event would have been considered legally worthless in a court of law! Against such obstacles, what could these three women expect to accomplish? Yet urged on by love and gratitude, they were determined to do what they could.
The church’s mission—to send the gospel to all the world—is fraught with overwhelming problems. Any one of them appears devastating. Against human stubbornness, disease, danger, loneliness, sin, greed, and even church strife and corruption, what can a few missionaries accomplish? Yet like these solitary women on that Sunday morning, we go out with love and gratitude for Jesus and leave the big obstacles with God.
We are invited and challenged to become part of God’s plan to tell others the Easter story. The message for them and for us is this: Jesus goes before us, just as he told us. Jesus goes ahead and to see him we need to keep trusting his word and keep moving forward in life. In the command of the messenger lies the promise of forgiveness, hope, and new life.
The promise of forgiveness is that Jesus doesn’t give up on us when we fail. That is why Peter is specifically mentioned. He was the leader among the disciples and the one who denied Jesus three times. Yet Jesus is looking forward to seeing him in Galilee as well. Peter will be forgiven. Forgiveness gives people second chances. Even when we have failed Jesus, he still goes on before us telling us what to do next on our journey of life and faith, if we’re ready to resume following him with all our heart. Part of the hope of Easter is a fresh start and renewed purpose for disciples who have denied and betrayed Jesus.
We too can betray our friend Jesus in many ways: when we give in to the pressures of temptations and trials, when we have spoken words or made decisions that contradict who God calls us to be; when we have forsaken our commitments, neglected the poor, ignored the lost, or failed to devote our time and resources to matters of eternal consequence.
Jesus knows how his disciples fail him then and now, yet he still goes before us, inviting us to meet him and to resume the journey together. The messenger knows who the women are looking for – they are looking for Jesus. Who or what are you looking for today? Where are you looking for answers to life’s most important questions? The answers are found in Jesus our resurrected hero.