SUGGESTED SCRIPTURE READING – Mark 16: 1-19.
FOCAL PASSAGE——–8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. 9 When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping…
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation…
20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. Mark 16: 8-10,15, 20.
I’m going to approach this study a little differently this week. After you read this first paragraph, I would like for you to stop and think for a moment. I want you to imagine you were there, and that you were one of Jesus’ disciples. It was certainly a traumatic and confusing time for them. They had obeyed His command to “follow Him,” but where was Jesus now? To them, His death was unexplainable. They were so stunned by the shock and defenselessness they felt that, other than John, they abandoned Jesus during the trials and crucifixion, instead gathering together in hiding. It had been only a week before that Jesus entered Jerusalem to cheering crowds as he rode on a donkey, in the same way the ancient kings had. Where were the crowds now? The disciples had left their homes….given up
everything…what would become of them now? * I ask that you stop reading now for a moment and close your eyes. Put yourself there, at the Last Supper…and in the garden as they took Him captive. Would you have acted differently than they did? Would you have run away? Would you have remembered what He told you?
Now it’s Sunday, three days after Jesus had been crucified. Some of the women who had followed Him have come to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, only to find He isn’t there. Only the neatly folded grave cloths used to wrap His body remain. The Gospel of John tells us Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene…Wonder of wonders, He’s Alive! “Mary…go and tell the others!” (John 20:15-17).
Can you imagine how fast you would have run to share this news? I don’t think my feet would have even touched the ground. I can imagine in her excitement she could barely get the words out…But, they didn’t believe her. They were grief stricken and filled with despair. How ironic that the only ones who remembered Jesus’ prediction of His death and resurrection were his enemies…not his friends. (Matthew 27:62-65)
-THE WOMEN DID NOT REMEMBER: Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” Mark 16:2-3
-PETER AND JOHN DID NOT REMEMBER: For they still did not understand the Scripture that He must rise from the dead. John 20:9-10
-THOMAS DID NOT REMEMBER: But one of the Twelve, Thomas (called “Twin”), was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!” John 20:24-25
-THE OTHER DISCIPLES DID NOT REMEMBER: After that, He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country. They went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either. Mark 16:12-13
Luke 24 gives us more detail concerning the above story of Jesus walking with two of His disciples and their failure to recognize him. Verse 16 indicates He had a purpose in this. Perhaps they didn’t see Him because they weren’t looking for Him. But Jesus used this time to encourage them, for afterward they said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32.
But they were transformed! We only have to read the book of Acts and other New Testament writings to see the miracle of change in the disciples. Encouraged and strengthened by Jesus, they became different men. Tradition and history tell us that 11 of them died Martyr’s deaths. Nothing but the loving touch of our Risen Savior can make such a change.
I have seen many miracles in my life. I see the wonder of nature all around me, I have seen the answer to many prayers and I have witnessed the birth of my daughter. I’ve also seen and marveled at the change in her when she became a mother to our granddaughter. But I have never seen anything like the miracle of the change in a person’s heart when they come to know Jesus.
May I ask you a personal question? Has your heart been truly changed by Jesus? If not, He will change it today if you simply ask Him. If He has, have you told anyone of the difference Jesus has made in your life? That was the last commandment Jesus gave His disciples…”tell everyone!”
As we enjoy this wonderful Easter weekend, the celebration of our risen Savior, let us be reminded of the sacrifice He made for us. May we be forever grateful…and let us run with the swiftness of feet that Mary and the others must have had after they saw the resurrected Christ. Let’s share the hope that is within us! Let’s tell everyone!
HE IS RISEN!