The Passion of Christ – Part Eight – Mark 16:1-20

 

Thus far in our consideration of The Passion of Christ we have seen Jesus’ passion flows from the love of God (Mark 9), Jesus’ passion for evangelism (Mark 10), Jesus’ passion for building faith (Mark 11), Jesus’ passion to give an answer (Mark 12) and Jesus’ passion for prophetic preparation and warning (Mark 13). In Mark 14 we saw Jesus passion to press on. In Mark 15 we saw Jesus Passion to Pay the Price. In the final chapter of the Gospel of Mark we see Jesus Passion to Rise in Power.

 

Why did they crucify Jesus?

Before we look at Jesus passion to rise in power from the dead, we need to consider further the question, “Why did they crucify Jesus?” The crucifixion of Jesus Christ marked the low point of human history. What makes it so dark and sinful is that those who orchestrated the crucifixion did it knowing that Jesus was innocent of any crime or wrongdoing.

Evidence of this is seen early in Jesus’ ministry when the religious representative Nicodemus showed that he and the other religious leaders knew Jesus to be a teacher from God based on what he said to Jesus which was, "we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him" (John 3:2). When Nicodemus spoke to Jesus he said, "we know," which indicates that not only Nicodemus knew who Jesus was but those whom he was representative of in the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees. But these same religious leaders (except for Nicodemus) were not willing to accept God’s heavenly plan. Rather than accept Jesus, His message and mission of redemption, they turned on Him in a jealous rage and arranged for His murder (Matthew 12:14; John 19:7). Jesus was the embodiment of goodness and deity. Jesus did miracles, healed the sick, fed the hungry, loved the children, and taught the truth. Those Jesus ministered to and saw Him minister naturally looked upon Him with favor and this led the religious leaders to envy Jesus (Mark 15:10; Matthew 27:14). Was envy and jealousy the only reason that they crucified Jesus? Or was there something or someone else behind this crucifixion? Why did they crucify Jesus?

No less than seven times people recorded to have recognized that there was no fault in Jesus: Judas said Jesus was innocent – Matthew 27:4; Pilate’s wife knew Jesus was a "just man" – Matthew 27:19; Pilate found no fault in Him – John 18:4; Herod found no fault in Jesus – Luke 23:15; The thief on the cross beside Jesus said "this Man has done nothing wrong" – Luke 23:41; The centurion overseeing the crucifixion said, "Certainly this was a righteous Man!" – Luke 23:47; and later the centurion comments, "Truly this was the Son of God!" – Matthew 27:54. If they knew Jesus was innocent, why did they crucify Him?

Why would a disciple such as Judas, who had been trusted by Jesus (i.e. Jesus let him oversee the money donated to His ministry – John 12:6), who had walked in sight of Jesus for three years, heard Him teach, seen His miracles such as feeding 4,000, feeding 5,000, stilling a stormy sea, healing countless people, raising the dead and a host of others, how could one in Judas position betray Jesus? Why did Judas agree to arrange the betrayal of Jesus?

I believe there was a deeper, darker influence behind the crucifixion of Jesus. This influence doesn’t in any way diminish the responsibility and blame for crucifying Jesus, but we need to understand the primary evil influence behind the crucifixion of Jesus.

Under the Influence and Power of Satan

The answer to the above questions surrounding why Jesus was crucified, I believe is clear, Satan was behind the crucifixion of Jesus and those who resist Jesus, are under the influence of Satan. This is not to minimize the sinner’s responsibility for their sin in any way. If the sinner turned to Jesus, they would have power against the devil, but because they do not, they wittingly or unwittingly fall into his camp. There are some truths about satanic influence that we need to take to heart here.

First, those who refuse to follow Jesus are under the influence, the power of Satan as seen in the life of Judas. That Satan influenced Judas betrayal of Jesus is seen in the words:

  • John 13:27 – “Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”   [1]

At some point Judas grew impatient or rebellious toward the will of God in Jesus and began to plot his own plan. At the point that Judas sinfully thought he knew better than God and rejected Jesus, at that point Satan got a foothold in his life that led to the betrayal.

Second, those who are unsaved are under the power of Satan. This is a truth that the sinner is oftentimes unaware of. A sinner may think that when posed with a need to decide to accept Jesus that they can remain neutral by not deciding. But there is no neutrality; you are either for or against Jesus. Jesus said this with the words:

  • Matthew 6:24 - “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  [2]

But not only that, the truth of the matter is that those who for whatever reason refuse to receive the gospel of God in Christ are under the influence and power of the devil. Jesus also pointed this out bluntly to the religious leaders who opposed Him when He said:

  • John 8:44 -  “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”  [3]

Those who reject Jesus end up acting more and more like the one, Satan, whom they are either knowingly or unknowingly serving.

In the first epistle of John the apostle John is inspired to write:

  • 1 John 5:19 – “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.”  [4]

That unbelievers are under the influence of Satan is also stated in the following verses:

  • Ephesians 2:1-3 – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”  [5]

Those who reject Jesus are under the influence and power of the devil that deceives and sways people to fulfill his ends. Later in Ephesians it describes this spiritual war that is a reality when Paul is inspired to write:

  • Ephesians 6:12 – “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” [6]

When you reject Jesus, you put yourself under the direct influence of Satan. You are either for Jesus or against Jesus; there is no middle ground. Jesus said:

  • Matthew 12:30 - “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.”  [7]

Third, any sin opens the door to satanic influence. The apostle Paul was inspired to refer to this when he wrote:

  • Ephesians 4:25-32 – “Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,27 nor give place to the devil.28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.”  [8]

According to these verses when we indulge in sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit as well as “give place to the devil.” When the door is opened, (even a crack) to Satan by sin, you can expect havoc in the sinner’s life.

Fourth, Jesus took Satan’s best shot on the cross; Jesus took the most intense acts of evil and Satan’s best effort to thwart the plan of God, and showed His power is supreme. This glorious truth is explained in the epistle to the Colossians where Paul is inspired to write:

  • Colossians 2:13-23 – “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men?23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”  [9]

On the cross Jesus made a way for our life slates to be wiped clean of sin. On the cross Jesus made a way for forgiveness of sin. On the cross Jesus publicly defeated Satan and his hoards triumphing over them in a total rout. On the cross Jesus proved the shallowness and impotence of religious pursuits and worldly ways and drew all people to Himself.

In Jesus’ redemptive cross-work we have victory over anything that Satan can throw at us. Paul expressed this in the following way:

  • Romans 8:31-39 – “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 As it is written: 1 “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  [10]

In the last parts of the gospels we see Satan’s attempt through sinful men to thwart God’s plan in Christ. In every instance the power of Jesus is superior. God’s plan would not and could not fail as the early apostles came to know and preach. We see this in the words of Peter at Pentecost when he was inspired and empowered to say:

  • Acts 2:22-24 - “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—23 “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;24 “whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”  [11]

God knew about the mission of Christ, that he would go to the cross and that He would rise from the dead. Satan, at best, was a pawn in the plans of God. Satan thought he could destroy Jesus, but what Satan purposed for evil, God used for the greatest good. Glory to God!

MARK THAT ACTION: Satan is a cunning adversary and will seize upon any and every opportunity to influence people’s lives toward sin and evil. We need to abide in our relationship to Jesus consistently so as not to open the door to our lives a crack for Satan to get a foothold. Jesus has defeated Satan soundly and we need only call on Him for help to win the battle against this enemy.

Now let’s continue to see the passion of Jesus to rise in power.

 

The Passion of Jesus to Rise in Power that Moved the Stone

 

Mark 16:1-4 – “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.3 And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us? 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large.”[12]

In Matthew’s account it states Jesus "yielded up His spirit" (Matthew 27:50 – Jesus didn’t merely die, He willfully yielded up His spirit) on the cross. Then it states His body was taken by Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, wrapped in clean linen and laid in a new tomb (Mark 15:42-47; Matthew 27:57-60a). Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary," remained outside the tomb mourning their loss. These two women knew where Jesus’ tomb was (Mark 15:47; Matthew 27:61). (Some liberal critics of the resurrection have postulated that when the two women returned on Sunday to the tomb of Jesus that they came to the wrong tomb and mistakenly thought the stone had been removed and Jesus had been resurrected. This is preposterous!)

On a recent visit to Jerusalem I was blessed to give a message at the Garden Tomb. One thing I noted was that the stone that covered the entrance to the tomb had never been found. I half seriously said that at the Nof Ganasar Kabbutz hotel there is a large round stone and perhaps, just maybe, when Jesus rose in power that He blew that stone clear to Gallilee! While not likely to be the case, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the stone was blew away in power by Jesus to some distant place where it has yet to be found. The important thing to see is that the stone was removed in power.

A “very large . . . stone” (Mark 15:46, 16:3,4) "large stone" (Matthew 27:60) was rolled over the opening in the tomb where Jesus was laid. If you go to Israel today and visit the Garden Tomb you see that not only was the stone rolled in front of the tomb entryway, but it was rolled into a groove that would have kept it in place. In his book The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, Josh McDowell quotes T.J. Thornburn as stating the following about this stone:

"This stone was used, ‘as a protection against both men and beasts. . . . It usually required several men to remove it.’ Since the one rolled to the entrance of Jesus’ tomb was intended to prevent an expected theft, it was probably even larger than what would normally have been used!

‘Indeed, concerning the tremendous weight of the rock, Thorburn remarks: ‘A gloss in Cod. Bez. [a phrase written in parenthesis, within the text of Mark 16:4 as found in a (fourth) century manuscript (Codex Bazae in the Cambridge Library)] adds, ‘And when he was laid there, he (Joseph) put against the tomb a stone which twenty men could not roll away.’" [13]

Think of the effort that was made to keep Jesus in that tomb; twenty men huffing  and  puffing, straining and struggling to roll that huge stone into place. Alfred Edersheim, (quoted in The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict) states:

"And so they laid Him to rest in the niche of the rock-hewn new tomb. And as they went out, they rolled, as was the custom, a ‘great stone’ – the Golel – to close the entrance to the tomb, probably leaning against it for support, as was the practice, a smaller stone – the so-called Dopheg. It would be where the one stone was laid against the other, that on the next day, the Sabbath though it was, the Jewish authorities would have affixed the seal, so that the slightest disturbance might become apparent." [14]

But Jesus blew that stone aside and rose with passion from the dead.

The Seal

Mark’s account does not mention that in addition to the very large stone that there was also a “seal” put in place to make clear that this tomb was closed under the authority of the Roman Empire. In Matthew it states:

·         Matthew 27:62-66 – "On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate,63 saying, "Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’64 "Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first."65 Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how."66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard."

A.T. Robertson explains the method of sealing the tomb of Jesus:

"probably by a chord stretched across the stone and sealed at each end . . . . The sealing was done in the presence of the Roman guards who were left in charge to protect this stamp of Roman authority and power. They did their best to prevent theft and the resurrection, but they overreached themselves and provided additional witness to the fact of the empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus." [15]

To break such a seal was to defy and go against the authority behind that seal, Rome. It was a very dangerous thing to go against Rome in any way, (as the Jews would discover years later in the 70 A.D. destruction of Jerusalem).

The Pharisees were very particular about keeping the letter of their laws, but their obsession with keeping Jesus in that tomb was something that caused them to make an exception. On the day after Jesus died, a Sabbath day, they went together to Pilate to get him to put a Roman seal on the stone covering the tomb where Jesus’ lay. They were pulling out all the stops to put an end to the teaching of Jesus. Their efforts and the stone they sought to use depicts a spiritual truth for us that we need to examine.

The Large Stone and Seal – Cold Hard Religion’s Best Effort to Thwart the Mission of Christ

What we need to see here is that despite the efforts to thwart God’s plan of salvation in Christ, God took what evil people meant for bad and turned it out for the greatest good. In spite of all the efforts of the army of evil to stop Jesus’ work of redemption, Jesus proved greater and more powerful in every way. What do the large stone and seal mean? The "large stone," and the "seal," represent the efforts of man to keep Christ shut up and dead in people’s lives. The hearts of the religious leaders were as hard and cold as the stone they used to try and shut Jesus up in that tomb. Throughout the ministry of Jesus He taught that religion is not the way to salvation. Religion is seeking God based on what man must do. Religion emphasizes dos and don’ts, laws, efforts of people and the guilt that comes when people fail in their own strength. Religion always ends up in frustration and failure because people are never able to do enough to please God in their own strength. This is one of the primary messages in the gospel of Matthew. Jesus said of the religious leaders:

  • Matthew 23:4-5,27-36 - "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.5 "But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. . . 27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.28 "Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.29 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,30 "and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’31 "Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.32 "Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.33 "Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?34 "Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,35 "that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.36 "Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation." (Compare Mark 12:38-40).

"They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers." (Matthew 23:4). That’s what religion does, it lays a heavy weight on people, and it uses guilt and fear to weigh people down and makes seeking God hard and heavy. God never intended for people to relate to Him on the basis of guilt. We should feel guilty for our sin and such guilt should lead us to repent, but we should not serve God out of guilt, but rather out of love. Religious pursuits of God lead to guilty burdens and heaviness of heart. How can we be freed from our burden of guilt?

Not Religion But Relationship

No matter how hard and cold the heart of people can get, or how much they try to keep Jesus out of the picture or out of prominence in people’s lives, God in Christ has the passion and power and can move any stone meant to keep Jesus out of the picture of people’s lives. God can move any stone from the heart of people put there in an attempt to shut out the truth of the resurrection. God can move any stone in any heart through His Son Jesus Christ. But only God can move the stone.

Jesus taught that to be His disciple and please God a righteousness that exceeded that of the Pharisees need to be attained to. He taught this in the opening words of the Sermon on the Mount when He said:

  • Matthew 5:20 – "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."

The Pharisees were the most religious people of the day and yet Jesus said to enter the Kingdom of Heaven one had to exceed "the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees." This testifies to the futility of trying to religiously relate to God. In Matthew 23 quoted above we saw that Jesus’ assessment and criticism of the Pharisees was that they focused on the outside image of themselves rather than on the inward heart condition. Jesus wants our hearts.

Jesus instructs people to give Him our heavy religious burdens and come to Him. This is what He meant when He said:

  • Matthew 11:28-30 – "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Jesus tells us that the way to God is not through a religious organization or work, but through a Person, Himself. Jesus says, "Come to Me." Jesus calls us to a relationship with Him not a religious effort or work on our part. God’s plan is to relate to Him personally.

The Passion and Power of Christ Can Move Any Stone

Mark 16:5-6 – “And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.” [16]

Those who oppose and try to refute the resurrection of Jesus sometimes state that those who went to the tomb on Sunday went to the wrong tomb. But this is a stretch at best. In Mark 15:47 it states:

  • Mark 15:47 – “And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother  of Joses observed where He was laid.”  [17]

Now it is true that women were prohibited from education in the time of Jesus, but even the uneducated would remember the tomb of a rich man, a special tomb, that they had been to the day before.

If it took twenty men to roll the stone in place to cover the mouth of the tomb, how could a few women move the stone when they went there after three days? This was their concern as we saw earlier in this chapter when the Gospel states:

  • Mark 16:1-4 – "Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.3 And they said among themselves, "Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?"4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large.”

They knew they couldn’t move that stone, perhaps on the way they simply prayed and put it into the hands of God. Little did they know that God had already provided for the moving of the stone. He sent an angel to move the stone. Moving this stone was no big deal for God; He delegated the job to an angel (compare Matthew 28:1-6).

Just as we said earlier that the large stone and seal are symbols of an attempt to keep Jesus out of sight and dead to people, we see that God can easily move that stony obstacle away from the hearts of people when they receive Jesus. The passion of Jesus is powerful enough to move the stone and seal from any hard heart that is like a dead man’s tomb.

But why was the stone moved? Was it moved so God could see in? No, it was moved for us.

Why Was The Stone Moved?

Remember, Jesus was already out of the tomb and from the Gospel accounts we see that walls did not deter him. We read in John’s account:

  • John 20:19-23 – "Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you."20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.21 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.23 "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." (See also Luke 24:33-43).

Apparently Jesus was able to pass right through doors. Surely He was able to pass through the walls of the tomb as well! So why was the stone moved? The stone was not moved to let Jesus out, the stone was moved so that these people could look in and see that Jesus had risen from the dead; He powerfully conquered death, just as He said. The angel from God said:

·         Mark 16:6 –“But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.” [18]

  • Matthew 28:3-6 – "His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.5 But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.6 "He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay."

Jesus was already risen, the stone was simply an impediment to seeing that truth and God removed it so that they Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary" could be the first to see this glorious truth.

MARK THAT ACTION:  God is seeking to remove the stone from your life today; the stone of heaviness, the stone of religion, any stone that is keeping you from His Gospel truth of Christ’s resurrection power. Whether that heavy stone is due to religion, a works righteousness mentality, or struggle in one’s flesh, in Christ it can be removed. And it doesn’t matter if the stone is big and put in place by Satan himself, God can move it. That is good news friend. We ought to call on the resurrection power of God to move the stones in our lives that prevent us from experiencing all that God has and wants for us.

 

The Importance and Power of the Resurrection

Now we come to the greatest proof and demonstration of the power of God, the resurrection. The resurrection is of utmost importance to the gospel. Mark’s inspired account continues:

Mark 16:6 – “But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.” [19]

The angel calmly comforted those who were learning of the resurrection of Jesus for the first time. The resurrection is powerful and awesome and must have been shocking to those first witnesses. Jesus wasn’t there, “He is risen, as He said.” Those are powerful words. Why are they powerful?

It was extremely important that the stone be moved from the tomb entrance and these women learn of the resurrection of their Savior Jesus Christ. Over three hundred (300!) verses are devoted to Jesus' resurrection in the New Testament. It is extremely important for believers to grasp and recognize the import of the resurrection because without it our faith is futile.

The resurrection is the linchpin, the power of the Christian faith. The resurrection is God’s exclamation mark on the work of His Son Jesus Christ. The resurrection is the evidence of the completion of Christ’s work and that it was acceptable to God for atonement and forgiveness of sin. Therefore, what place and purpose does the resurrection have in the life? What power does the resurrection manifest?

First, the Resurrection is a Powerful Sign For Unbelievers. The resurrection is a powerful sign for unbelievers. This means that in light of the resurrection, there is no excuse to not come to Jesus for salvation. Jesus stated:

  • Matthew 12:38-41 – "Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You."39 But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.40 "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.41 "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here."

The resurrection is one of the most well documented and provable events in history and as such unbelievers should take it to heart and come to the Lord. If any skeptic truly seeks out the truth of the resurrection, they will come to see the truth of it. Many have sought to study the resurrection in an effort to refute it only to find that it truly happened just as He said it would and ultimately came to faith in Christ (Matthew 28:6). (See Who Moved The Stone by Frank Morison, a skeptic who came to Christ when he investigated the resurrection). Before you forget about the resurrection and whether or not the gospel is for you, you need to check it out and see for yourself. If you fail to do so, you will not only miss out on the meaning and purpose you were created for, but you will miss out on eternal life.

Second, the Resurrection has the Power to Destroy Doubt. Jesus gave the ultimate answer to anyone who would antagonistically say to Him, "Show me!" His answer was His power over death displayed in the resurrection. Read what Jesus said to those who doubted:

  • Luke 24:38-43 – "And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?39 "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, "Have you any food here?"42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.43 And He took it and ate in their presence."

The reality of the resurrection destroys doubts because if Jesus is raised from the dead, than any and all other obstacles to belief in Him are eliminated. And how does that happen? It happens as we come to Jesus and touch Him, or get to know Him personally through a saving faith relationship that is offered freely by Gods grace. Come to Jesus and experience His resurrection power!

Third, the Resurrection is a Declaration That Jesus is The Son of God, God. While those who follow God are often called “sons of God,” Jesus was referred to uniquely as, “the Son of God” (Mark 1:1; 3:11; 15:39; Matthew 8:29; 26:63-64; John 10:36). Don Stewart explains the significance of Son of God” as a title of Jesus when he states:

The title “Son of God” indicates the relationship the Father had with the Son. The Son was equal to the Father [John 1:1-3,14], yet He, unlike the Father, became a man. In doing so, He put Himself in a position of submission in which He obeyed the will of the Father. The sonship refers to His position as servant, not His nature as being less than God.

We may say therefore that Jesus, though the same substance as the Father, took that relationship of Son upon Himself by submitting to the wishes of the Father. As the Son He is no less God, He is merely taking on the role of a servant to show us what God is like and what He requires of us. [20]

The resurrection is important to establishing and revealing that Jesus is the Son of God. The apostle Paul was inspired to say that through the resurrection, Jesus is declared to be the Son of God. We see this in Romans where it states:

  • Romans 1:1-4 – “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures,3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh,4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”  [21]

The resurrection is the Spirit’s way of pointing unbelievers to take notice of who Jesus is, the Son of God, God in the flesh. 

As Son of God, Jesus is higher than the angels as shown in the following verses:

  • Hebrews 1:1-5 – “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 5 For to which of the angels did He ever say: 1 “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”?”  [22]

Jesus is higher than the angels AND IS EQUAL WITH GOD. We see this in the following verses.

As the Son of God Jesus is the second Person of the Triune Godhead as the baptismal formula indicates:

  • Matthew 28:19 - “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”  [23]

As the Son of God Jesus is God and should be honored with the same honor as the Father, as seen in the following verses:

  • John 5:22-23 - “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,23 “that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”  [24]

Jesus the Son of God shares in the Father’s glory. We see this in the following verses:

  • John 17:1-5 – “Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,2 “as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.4 “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.5 “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”  [25]

You can’t have the Father without the Jesus His Son and you can’t have the Son Jesus without the Father. You can’t see Jesus as less in nature and substance than God the Father; if you do, you lose both. The Scripture states this in the following verses:

  • 1 John 2:23-24 – “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24 Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.”  [26]

It is through faith in Jesus the Son of God that a person is saved from their sins and given eternal life as seen in the following verses:

  • John 3:18,36 - “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. . . 36 “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”  [27]
  • John 6:40 - “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”  [28]
  • John 20:30-31 – “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”  [29]

Now all of this is declared and validated as true through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Fourth, The Resurrection Proves Jesus’ Teachings Are True, Authoritative and Powerful. Jesus’ resurrection validates and confirms that what He said was true. Jesus is faithful to His word. Not only that, but the resurrection demonstrates that Jesus has the power to fulfill His word. Jesus walked His talk; He backed up what He said by doing what He said He would do.

In Matthew 16 it states:

  • Matthew 16:21 – “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” (Compare Mark 8:31-32) [30]

The promise of the resurrection was something emphasized by Jesus in His mission and ministry. Had He not risen from the dead, all of what He said would have been proven a lie. But since He did rise from the dead, all that He said is proven truthful.

Without the resurrection Christianity would be relegated to the scrap heap of all other religions. The power of the resurrection is indispensable to Chr9istiaintiy and is what sets Christianity apart from mere religion (i.e. mans’ pursuit of God) and puts it in the realm of relying on the finished work and power of Jesus Christ in death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Without the resurrection, there is no redemption or acceptable atoning work because the resurrection is God’s stamp of acceptance and approval on the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Without the resurrection, what Jesus said and taught are mere empty words. With the resurrection, the words of Christ are full and powerful.

It was on the basis of the resurrection that Peter and Paul proclaimed the Gospel powerfully because the resurrection confirmed the truth of it:

  • Acts 2:22-24 - "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—23 "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;24 "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it."

Peter preached the gospel fearlessly in Jerusalem, the very City where Jesus had been publicly executed on the cross. What the Spirit used powerfully was the fact of the resurrection. When Peter preached the gospel on Pentecost, the empty tomb of Jesus was just a stones throw away. There was no denying the power of Jesus to fulfill His promise to rise from the dead (Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31-32; 9:10-11; Luke 9:21-22; John 2:19-22).

Paul explained the power and indispensability of the resurrection to Christianity when he was inspired to write:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:12-20 – "Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep."

The resurrection proves the authority and power of Jesus teachings.

Fifth, the Resurrection Is the Power of the Gospel. The resurrection is central to the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ; you cannot accept Jesus without accepting the resurrection. You would not want to accept Jesus without the resurrection because without the resurrection Jesus becomes just another teacher. Worse than that, without the resurrection Jesus becomes a liar who misled people to think He would rise from the dead. And without the resurrection Jesus become just another impotent teacher. But with the resurrection, the gospel is infused with power over death, with the power of reality and truth. Peter said in his sermon at Cornelius’ house:

  • Acts 10:34-40 – "Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.35 "But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.36 "The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—37 "that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:38 "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.39 "And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.40 "Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly,"

To the Corinthians the apostle Paul writes:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,"

The resurrection is central to the power of the gospel message. There is no gospel without the resurrection. The gospel has no power without the resurrection.

Sixth, The Resurrection Demonstrates the Power For Life Available to the Believer. When the apostle Paul discusses the practical application of the righteous life he does so referring to the resurrection because if the resurrection is possible, all other obstacles in life pale in comparison. If God in Christ had the power to defeat death, every other obstacle in life pales in comparison. Read how Paul includes reference to the resurrection as demonstrating the power of God available to the believer:

  • Romans 6:4-14 – "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (See Philippians 3:10)

The power of God demonstrated in the resurrection is the same power that is made available to the believer to live life. The apostle Paul wanted every believer to know this and said so through Divine inspiration when he wrote:

  • Ephesians 1:15-21 – "Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come."

Indeed Paul was inspired to write that knowing this power was of the utmost importance for people:

  • Philippians 3:7-11 – "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."

The resurrection is not simply a theological truth or something that happened millennia ago. The resurrection shows us the power of God that is at our disposal in life now! Disciple, you need to know and apply the power of the resurrection to your lives!

How Can the Resurrection Power of Jesus be Brought to Bear in our Lives?

But how, how can the resurrection power of Jesus be brought to bear in our lives? Well, first we see the key in Paul’s words in Philippians 3 when Paul links knowing Jesus with His resurrection power. He said, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, . . .” Knowing Jesus is the doorway to experiencing His resurrection power.

Furthermore, remember what Jesus said to the doubters? He said, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?39 "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” (Luke 24:38-39). In other words we experience the power of the resurrection when we draw close to Jesus personally, when we touch Him and let Him touch us. The power of the resurrection in our lives will be in proportion to the depth and closeness of our relationship with Jesus. Draw closer to Jesus and you will experience His resurrection power more and more.   

Seventh, The Resurrection Gives the Believer Power by Giving Them Hope for The Future. The resurrection empowers the believer to encounter the unknown future and the unknown of death because Jesus has conquered death and gone one before us to prepare a place for the believer. The resurrection gives the believer hope at the point of death and beyond as the following verses state:

  • John 11:25 – "Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live."
  • 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 – "So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."55 "O Death, where is your sting? 1 O Hades, where is your victory?"56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
  • Philippians 3:20-21 – "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself."

The resurrection of Jesus is the proof that He is able to remove any stone in your life that is keeping you from Himself. That gives us hope. Peter said it best when he was inspired to write:

·         1 Peter 1:3 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”  [31]

Eight, the resurrection is God’s stamp of approval that the atoning sacrifice of Jesus was, is and always will be sufficient to fully and completely satisfy His just and holy requirement of the Law as it pertains to the forgiveness of sins. This is a truth of pure and limitless grace. In John’s inspired account of the crucifixion of Jesus it states:

  • John 19:30 – “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”

“It is finished!”  Theses words indicate that Jesus declared that all of the Father’s just and holy requirements of the Law were satisfied so that on the basis of His cross-work and only on the basis of His cross-work, a person could come to God and by trusting in Jesus’ redemptive work, seek forgiveness for their sins and receive forgiveness justly. God doesn’t just overlook sin when He forgives, He forgives on the basis of the just and satisfactory work of His only Son Jesus. This is what Jesus declares when He says, “It is finished!”

But there is more to this story. Jesus’ words, “It is finished!” are powerful and packed with truth and substance. But it is the resurrection that validates His claim. Jesus said, “It is finished!”  and it is the resurrection that proves the words true. The resurrection of Jesus declares the work necessary to make salvation possible is completed; God’s justice is satisfied. That’s important because it also means, there is no more work to accomplish, there is no more outstanding debt of sin to be paid for those seeking salvation. The sinner does not have to work their way into God’s good graces, they merely have to plead the blood of Jesus, they merely have to come by God’s grace through faith in Jesus and receive the gift of salvation based on the cross and resurrection of Jesus. Glory! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!

The resurrection makes good works for salvation unnecessary. The resurrection makes purgatory unnecessary. The resurrection makes it possible to come freely, as we are to receive forgiveness for our sins, always.

Not Permission to Sin; but Power to Not Sin

A word of caution and correction; even in Paul’s day people were inclined to abuse and misinterpret this great provision of God (Romans 6:1ff.).  While good works and a holy life are not necessary for salvation, that does not mean we have a license to sin. Quite the contrary, God’s grace does not provide us with permission to sin; God’s grace provides us with power not to sin.  God in Christ does not save us to indulge our sinful self or be sinfully selfish, carnal and fleshly. God in Christ makes a way to overcome enslaving sin and the sinful self (2 Corinthians 5:14-21). God’s provision of grace in Christ’s cross and resurrection should so impact us with the love of God that we no longer live for ourselves but live lives of loving appreciation shown in the offering of good works and selflessness to God for His glory. This is God’s plan (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Ephesians 2:10).

Getting Rid of That Heavy Stone Burden of Sin

We have said that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day heaped religious burdens on those who they ruled. Life is filled with burdens that weigh us down. These burdens keep us from soaring with the Lord. How can we rid ourselves of the heavy stony burden?

We need to first realize that no matter the form our burden takes, it is sin. Either our burden is the result of sin generally or it is the result of sin in particular that we have done. The Bible states:

  • Psalm 38:4 – "For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me."

Once we accept that we are weighted down by sin, we need to bring our sinful burden to the LORD:

  • Psalm 55:22 – "Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved."

Jesus is the One who bore our burden of sin for us and when we put our faith in Him, give Him our burden by faith, and believe in Him, He has the power and will remove our burdens from us. As Isaiah wrote:

  • Isaiah 53:4-6 – "Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (See also 1 Peter 2:21-24)

We need to receive the gift of salvation offered in Christ (John 1:12; Romans 6:23) and by faith trust Jesus to take away our burdens of sin. The heart of the gospel is the resurrection of Jesus because when you believe in the resurrection of Jesus, you are saying you believe everything else he said. Paul put it this way:

  • Romans 10:8-9 – "But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach):9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."

What is it to believe in your heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead? Is it not to trust in faith that the stone meant to shut Him up in that cold hard tomb has been rolled away? It is to believe that Jesus really is able; He has the power to take away your burdens of sin. Confess then that Jesus is Lord for having done this, and that by the power of the resurrection He is able to forgive sin.

MARK THAT ACTION: The resurrection is the linchpin of the Christian faith. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us by God’s grace through faith in Him. We ought to trust God to bring that power to bear in our areas of weakness in our lives so that we can live victoriously for Him.

What Should We do With the Power of the Resurrection of Christ?

There is no greater, more important, more powerful truth in all of history than the truth of the resurrection of Jesus. But what do we do with it? The final verses of this gospel tell us what to do with the resurrection.

Share the Power of the Resurrection with a Holy Passion

Mark 16:7-14 - “But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”8 So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. 9 Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.10 She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept.11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. 12 After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country.13 And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either.”[32]

Mark’s inspired account let’s us see intimately into the humanity of those who first found that Jesus had risen from the dead. Notice the angel instructs the women to go and tell the disciples and “Peter” in particular (Mark 16:7). Why is Peter singled out? Because Peter was the one who probably the one who most needed to hear that Jesus was alive from the dead since he was the one who wept bitterly over having betrayed Jesus so severely.

Mark also tells us that the women left trembling and at first they didn’t tell anyone about what they had discovered (Mark 16:8). Sometimes we resist telling others about Jesus because of fear. Like these women we should depend on Jesus to help us overcome our fears with faith in Him. That is what happens hear. The awesome truth of Jesus’ resurrection overcome their fears; it was something they just could not keep to themselves but had to share.

Jesus it is said appeared first to Mary Magdalene out of whom He had cast out seven demons (Mark 16:9). He appeared first to the one who had been delivered the most. Perhaps she was the one who most believed or had faith in the promise of Jesus to rise from the dead.

MARK THAT ACTION: When the stone is removed from your life, go and tell others about it! That is what Mary Magdalene did (Mark 16:10). When you’ve experienced the power of the resurrection of Jesus in your life, share it! This is our faith response. Just as these first witnesses saw the stone removed and ran to tell others; so too should we run to tell others what Jesus has done.

Jesus Passion to Rebuke those Who Don’t Believe He Raised from the Dead

Mark 16:14 – “Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.” [33]

Fear and unbelief are mentioned four times in the closing verses of Mark’s gospel (Mark 16:8,11,12, 14). These verses tell us three things about unbelief.

First, fear is the cause of unbelief. The word “afraid” used in Mark 16:8 is translated from the Greek term PHOBEO (Strong’s #5399 - φοβέω phŏbĕō, fob-eh´-o; from 5401 PHOBOS)  which means, “to be put in fear; alarm, or fright;  be afraid,  exceedingly, fear, terror.” [34] Fear is the foe of faith. Fear can stifle faith. But fear can also be overcome by faith. The determining factor in whether or not faith overcomes fear is the object in which the faith is placed to address the fear. When we put our faith in God, we can overcome any and all fears.

There are many reasons to fear in this world. Fear of death; fear of life; fear of loss; fear of gain; fear of illness; fear of family; fear of many, many things. But the Lord in His word tells us not to fear and to instead come to Him in faith. The phrase “fear not” occurs 63 times in the Bible. God says, “fear not” when:

 

  • When the odds are against you, fear not – Exodus 20:20; Deuteronomy 1:21; 31:6,8; Joshua 1; 8:1; 10:25; Isaiah 35:4; 41:13-14.

 

  • When you have sinned, instead of being paralyzed with fear, repent – 1 Samuel 12:20.

 

  • When you are put in a position of responsibility, fear not – 1 Chronicles 28:20.

 

·         When you face a confusing situation, fear not – Daniel 10:12.

 

  • When you are weak, fear not – Daniel 10:19.

 

  • When God leads you in an unconventional way, fear not  – Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:30; John 12:15.

 

  • When you are faced with physical danger, fear not – Matthew 10:28.

 

  • When all seems lost, fear not – Matthew 28:5.

 

  • When you’re in a seeming hopeless situation, fear not – Luke 1:13.

 

  • When God calls you, fear not – Luke 5:10; Acts 27:24; Revelation 1:17.

 

  • When you’re physically ill, fear not  – Luke 8:50

 

  • When you’re in material need, fear not – Genesis 21:17; Luke 12:7.

 

We have reason, good reason not to fear, because Jesus knows what we are gong through and will not allow us to be overwhelmed (1 Corinthians 10:13). Jesus will help us through our fears with His presence, His comforting and encouraging word, and by bringing the fellowship of believers to assist us in our fears.

 

The One Who Helps Us Overcome Fear

 

The Agent and means by which these disciples eventually overcame their fears was the baptism with the Holy Spirit they received at Pentecost. The Holy spirit ,Comforter, Helper, He is the One who helps us overcome our fears.

 

In Acts 1 the disciples are still fearful and found huddling in secret together in an upper room. But when by faith they received the baptism with the Holy Spirit they were given power to witness and overcome their fears (Acts 2). So empowered were they by the Holy Spirit that they proclaimed the gospel in the very area where days before Jesus had been crucified. This power to overcome fear is received by faith as we are told later in Acts when it states: 

 

  • Acts 15:8-9 - “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,9 “and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” [35]

 

By faith we receive the empowering of the Holy Spirit that enables us to overcome our fears and to serve the Lord with boldness (see Acts 4:31).

 

Second, a hard heart causes unbelief. In Mark 16:14 Jesus identifies the cause of the disciple’s unbelief,  hardness of  heart. The phrase “hardness of heart” is translated from one Greek term SKLEROSKARDIA (Strong’s # 4641 – σκληροκαρδία  sklay-rok-ar-dee´-ah) meaning, “hard-heartedness, i.e. destitution of (spiritual) perception; hardness of heart.” [36] The prefix SKLEROS (Strong’s #4642) means, “to dry.”[37] A hard heart is a heart that is not watered by the living water of Jesus and His word (John 4:13-14; 7:37-39; Ephesians 5:26). There hearts had been closed up to the gospel and truth of Jesus.

Jesus is looking for hearts that are like a sponge that soaks up all His words. These disciples had sat under the teaching of Jesus for three years and had seen His miracles and yet they didn’t believe Jesus. The other gospel accounts confirm the init8ial unbelief of the disciples of Jesus (e.g. John 20:24-31). What was Jesus’ response to such unbelief?

Third, Jesus rebukes unbelief that is the result of hard heartedness. In Mark 16:14 it states Jesus “rebuked” the unbelief of the disciples. The word “rebuked” comes from the Greek term ONEDIDZO (Strong’s # 3679 – νειδίζω  µ, on-i-did´-zo) which means, “to defame, i.e. rail at, chide, taunt. . .  cast in teeth, (suffer) reproach, revile, upbraid.” [38] Jesus strongly rebuked the disciples because given His teaching and their experiences with Him they should have known better and believed in Him.

There is a little rhyming poem I received over the Internet years ago about people in the church that I’d like to share with you now. It’s entitled Ten Little Christians:

 

  • 10 little Christians standing in line. 1 disliked the pastor, then there were 9.
  • 9 little Christians stayed up very late. 1 overslept Sunday, then there were 8.  
  • 8 little Christians on their way to Heaven. 1 took the low road and then there were 7.  
  • 7 little Christians chirping like chicks. 1 disliked music, then there were 6.  
  • 6 little Christians seemed very much alive, but one lost his interest then there was 5.  
  • 5 little Christians pulling for Heaven's Shore, but one stopped to rest, then there were 4  
  • 4 little Christians each busy as a bee. 1 got his feelings hurt, then there were 3  
  • 3 little Christians knew not what to do. 1 joined the sporty crowd, then there were 2  
  • 2 little Christians, our rhyme is nearly done, differed with each other, then there was 1  
  • 1 little Christian can't do much 'tis true, brought his friend to bible study, then there were 2  
  • 2 earnest Christians, each won one more. That doubled the number, then there were 4  
  • 4 sincere Christians worked early and late. Each won another then there were 8.  
  • 8 splendid Christians if they doubled as before. In just so many Sundays, we'd have 1,024  

In this little jingle, there is a lesson true, you belong either to the building or to the wrecking crew!

MARK THAT ACTION: There are those in the church who sit and hear the word of God taught over and over again and show no signs of spiritual growth, no fruitfulness. It is not beyond the realm of truth to see Jesus rebuking such inactivity and hard heartedness. Are you a sponge soaking up all that Jesus has for you or are you a stone that the water of His word never penetrates? We need to pray for the Holy Spirit to help our unbelief or fear and move on in His resurrection power.

Preach the Gospel – The Powerful Passionate Purpose of God

Mark 16:15- “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”[39]

Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15).

These words are very important to the perpetuation of the gospel and the saving of souls. The

words “to every creature” give us the sense that Jesus wants the gospel preached to everyone

and anyone who has not received Him as their personal Savior.

But where does Jesus expect us to go? Are we all called to the foreign mission field?  It’s

important to note that this command to “Go” from Jesus is not only for those who go into the

foreign mission field. (There are indeed some who are called to the foreign mission field.) If that

were the case many could simply dismiss this command as not pertaining to them.

 

“Go” Everywhere Starting with Where You Are – Be Evangelistically Minded

 

A study of the word “Go” reveals that it is translated from the Greek term POREUOMAI

(Strong’s #4198).  The grammatical form of this Greek term is important to a proper

interpretation here. Grammatically POREUOMAI is an Aorist/Passive Deponent/ Participle. The

aorist tense in the Greek language means a word, “is characterized by its emphasis on punctiliar

action; that is, the concept of the verb is considered without regard for past, present, or future

time.” [40] Passive deponent means the term refers to a, “subject as being the recipient of the

action.” [41] And lastly, a Greek participle, “corresponds for the most part to the English

participle, reflecting “-ing” or “-ed” being suffixed to the basic verb form.  The participle can be

used either like a verb or a noun, as in English, and thus is often termed a “verbal noun.”[42] With

this in mind, we therefore need to see “Go” as implying the idea of, “to be going on one’s way,”

or “to proceed from one place to another.”

 

The final verse of the gospel of Mark confirms this when it states:

  • Mark 16:20a – “And they went out and preached everywhere, . . .

 

We need to cultivate an evangelism mindset and heart-set. We need to be evangelistically

minded and have a burden in our hearts to share the gospel.

 

The calling of Christ to go everywhere to share the gospel is not only for clergy and

missionaries, it is for everyone who calls themselves a believer and follower in Jesus Christ.

 

This idea is confirmed in Matthew’s account of the Great Commission of Jesus to His followers.

Jon Courson in his Tree of Life Commentary – Matthew  states:

 

            “The Great Commission then takes on a much broader perspective than what we usually think of as ‘missionary mentality.’ We’re to be sharing and teaching wherever we’re going, whatever we’re doing.” [43]

 

This has great significance for us because it broadens the call of Christ’s Great Commission to all of us and expands the call to something disciples should always be looking to do.

The apostle Paul would later express this attitude and calling when in his first letter the

Corinthians he was inspired to write:

 

  • 1 Corinthians 9:16 – “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!”

 

We are all called to be instruments of God to reach out to the lost around us.

 

Preach the Gospel

Jesus commands the disciples to go and “preach the gospel.” The word “preach” hear is translated from the Greek term KERUSSO (Strong’s # 2784 – κηρύσσω  µ, kay-roos´-so). This word is found 61 times in the New Testament and is translated “preach” 51 times, “publish” 5 times, “proclaim” 2 times, “preached” 2 times and , “preacher”  1 time. The word means to be “a herald” or one who announces something or someone as coming and to do so openly so as to be heard clearly by as many as possible. [44]

But what is it that Jesus commands us to go and preach? The answer, we are to go and preach the gospel. The word “gospel”  is translated from the Greek term EUANGELIUM (Strong’s # 2098 -   εαγγέλιον, yoo-ang-ghel´-ee-on) which means “a good message, i.e. the gospel:— gospel.” [45] We are to proclaim the good news of Jesus cross and resurrection! We are to herald and announce and proclaim all the truth of His word! That is what Jesus calls us to do.

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus commands us to go everywhere sharing the gospel, that is what we must do in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Belief Not Baptism is the Means of Salvation

 

Jesus goes on to say:

 

Mark 16:16 - “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” [46]

Jesus is not saying that being baptized is necessary to salvation. Belief is the focus of Jesus here not whether or not a person is baptized. “Belief” is translated from the Greek word PISTEUO (Strong’s # 4100) which means  is found 248 times in the New Testament and is translated “believe” 239 times, “commit unto” 4 times, “commit to (one’s) trust” once, “be committed unto” once, “be put in trust with” once, “be commit to one’s trust” once, and “believer” once. [47]

What is “saving faith”? This word is also translated “faith.” If we were gong to define saving faith we could do so with the acronym: Forsaking All I Trust Him. That is what it means to believe and be saved.

It’s important to understand that we are not saved by being baptized. Paul makes this very clear when in the beginning of his first letter to the Corinthians he is inspired to write:

·         1 Corinthians 1:14-17 – “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.”

If baptism was essential to salvation Paul would not have been inspired to say these words. You can be saved without being baptized. But baptism is important.

But Baptism is Important

Baptism is important and everyone who accepts Jesus as Savior should be baptized for a number of reasons.

First, Jesus Was Baptized. Earlier in the Gospel of Mark it states:

·         Mark 1:9 – “It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.”

Jesus was baptized. Being baptized is one other way we follow in the steps of Jesus and are conformed to His likeness which is God’s will and plan for our lives (Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 2:211 John 2:6).

In Matthew’s gospel it states further:

 

  • Matthew 3:13-17 - “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (See also Luke 3:21)     

 

If Jesus was baptized, and it pleased the Father for Him to be baptized, since we are called to follow in the steps of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6), we should be baptized as well.       

 

Second, it is Commanded in Scripture. The Bible states:

 

  • “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, . . .” - Matthew 28:19; See also Mark 16:16

 

  • “Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” - John 3:5
  • “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” - Acts 2:38; See also 10:48; 22:16.

Baptism is a powerful object lesson and illustration of what God does in the one who repents and turns to Him for forgiveness of sins. In Biblical times people didn’t have the Internet, TV, movies, even picture books and God used such rites as baptism to illustrate the truth of what happens to the one who He forgives their sin.

Furthermore, one way we demonstrate our love for God and Christ is to obey Him (John 14:21). Since baptism is commanded in Scripture, we should be baptized as an act of loving submission to God.

Third, we should be baptized because it is important. In other portions of Scripture it states:                    

  • Romans 6:3 - “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (See also Colossians 2:12) .

                       

  • 1 Corinthians 12:13 - “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”

 

  • Galatians 3:27 - “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

 

  • 1 Peter 3:21 - “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”            

 

Baptism is important because it is God’s ordained way of testifying before the world and Him that we : 1.) Accept and identify personally with the cross of Christ; 2.) Accept that we are one with God and all believers in the Spirit; 3.) Accept that Christ is our righteousness (See Isaiah 61:10; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Accept that we are cleansed from our sin through Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. 

 

MARK THAT ACTION: Baptism is not a means of salvation but is important as a symbol of salvation to others. We ought to be baptized as an act of obedience to Jesus but also not depend on baptism to save us.

 

Signs Follow

Mark 16:17-18 -  “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;18 “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”  [48]

Notice the sequence or priority in Jesus’ words. He says “signs will follow.” His words should not be interpreted to mean that the signs mentioned by Him will always be present and follow the preaching of the gospel. He does mean that signs are secondary not primary to the preaching of the gospel.

There are signs and miracles worked by the Holy Spirit in our present day. But having said that, we need to note that many have exalted signs and wonders to the position that precedes the gospel and order of Jesus stated here.  There is a church that exists in a place named Jolo in lower Appalachia where rattle snakes and the handling of them is made a central part of their worship service. The church is literally dying off.

Others hold signs and wonders services where miracles are promised as though those leading the services had the power rather than God Himself. Such is a sign of the End Times (1 Timothy 4:1-2; 2 Timothy 3:1-7; 2 Thessalonians 2:9).

The apostle Paul was able to shake off a snake bite (Acts 28:1-6). The book of Acts is filled with healings and miracles and such do happen in the world today. But God is not the Leader of a three ring circus, He does miracles in His sovereign timing and plan. In whatever He chooses He gives grace that is sufficient and that should satisfy us (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

MARK THAT ACTION: Signs are important to ministry because they show the manifestation of God’s power in life. But signs are not something to be prioritized above the preaching of the gospel. Our focus is Jesus and the gospel, not signs. We also ought to test everything and hold only to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

Ascension and Call to Attention

Mark 16:19 – “So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.” [49]

When we see Jesus’ ascension it is a call to attention; a call to revere Him as coequal with God. Jesus’ ascension is a call to attention in that we are to look for His return (Acts 1:10-11) and we are to go out like the first century disciples and preach the gospel. I often wonder what has happened to the fervor and powerful passion of those first century disciples of Christ. I look at the followers of Islam today and see in them more of the fervor of the early church and they are fervently following a lie! What has happened to the church to those who Jesus so passionately died and rose from the dead for?

The answer to that question I believe is that somewhere along the line the church left the word of God, left the empowering of the Spirit and began to rely on themselves. This was true of the a part of the church at the end of the first century (e.g. Ephesus – Revelation 2:1-7). We need to repent and return to Jesus seeking His passion to fully fill us again. Nothing less will satisfy and is worthy of the One who sits at the right hand of God.

Seated at the Right Hand of God

What does Mark mean when he notes that Jesus “sat down at the right hand of God”? The apostle Paul also mentioned this and his inspired words to the Colossians help us come up with the truthful interpretation.

 

Paul’s letter to the Colossians was to a great extent an effort to convey the truth and right understanding of who Jesus was and is. The insipient Gnostics and other heretical factions tried to diminish the deity of Jesus. Paul states in Colossians that his purpose for writing is that they should be filled with the knowledge of the truth of God in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (1:1-12).

 

In his letter Paul then proceeds to teach the following things concerning Jesus:

 

  1. Jesus is spoken of by Paul in a way that communicates equality with the Father (1:2b;2:2)
  2. Jesus is instrumental in delivering people from the power of darkness (1:13)
  3. Jesus is our Redeemer (1:14)
  4. He is the image of the invisible God (1:15)
  5. As “firstborn” Jesus is in a position of full authority over creation (1:15)
  6. Jesus Creator and all creation exists for Him (1:16)
  7. Jesus holds everything together (1:17).
  8. Jesus is to be preeminent in all things (1:18)
  9. All the fullness of God dwells in Jesus (1:19)
  10. Jesus is our Reconciler (1:20-21)
  11. Jesus in us gives us hope of glory (1:27)
  12. Jesus is the center of the message that is preached by Paul (1:28)
  13. Jesus is the means to attain perfection before God (1:29)
  14. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ (2:3)
  15. We are to walk in, grow in and be thankful for our relationship with Jesus (2:6-7)
  16. All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Jesus (2:9)
  17. Jesus is the Head of all principalities and powers (2:10)
  18. Jesus enables the believer to put off our sins and put on the new life in Him (2:11-12)
  19. Jesus nailed our sins to the cross (2:13-14)
  20. Jesus disarmed principalities and powers and triumphed over them at the cross (2:15).
  21. Jesus sets us free from religious dead works and regulations, from self-imposed self-reliant, rules that are powerless to help us live victoriously over the flesh (2:18-23).

 

In Colossians 3 Paul now begins the practical application section of his letter. What good is all of this truth about Jesus if it cannot have an impact on our lives?  Accumulation of information is worthless without application of it to life. Therefore, in Colossians 3:1 Paul begins by again asserting the authority of Jesus. 

 

Paul points us to seek heavenly things which are above (3:1a) and then describes particularly the target we are to focus upon by saying:

 

  • “. . . where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.”

 

This phrase is significant. No one else is described in this position in relation to God. The significance of sitting at the right hand of God is that the “right hand” is a position of exaltation, power and authority (Luke 22:69; Ephesians 1:20). Jesus sitting at the right hand of God is associated with the power to forgive sins (Acts 5:31; compare with Mark 2:1-12). Jesus at God’s right hand is in a place of intercession on our behalf (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 8:1). Jesus at the right hand of God shows He has completed His mission work of redemption (Hebrews 12:1-2). So Paul is pointing to the authority that Jesus has. But there is more to this phrase than merely pointing to Jesus’ authority.

 

Jesus Himself made reference to sitting at the right hand of God in a conversation with some Pharisees. In Matthew 22 Jesus is tested by the Herodians (22:15-22), the Sadducees (22:23-33) and the Pharisees (22:34-40) and He met every challenge so effectively that His opposition didn’t know what else to do. Jesus then went on the offensive. His words are recorded in the following way:

·         Matthew 22:41-46 – “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 saying,What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.” 43 He said to them,How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: 44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool” ’?45 If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” 46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.” 

Jesus quotes Psalm 110:1 to the Pharisees, (a well known and accepted Messianic passage) and in the process refers to David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, saying, “The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”” The point made by Jesus here is that the Messiah was not merely a human descendent of David as the Pharisees supposed, but David, under the inspiration of the Spirit, refers to the Messiah with a title, “Lord” reserved only for God!

 

The word translated “Lord” in Matthew 22:43, 44 and 45 is the Greek term KURIOS (Strong’s #2962). This word means, “Lord; master; sir.” The word KURIOS is used to refer to “LORD,” as well as “Lord” in the New Testament. The context determines how the English translation will be rendered But in the Old Testament (written in Hebrew) we can see a much more revealing picture of the point Jesus is making.

 

The portion of scripture Jesus is quoting is in Psalm 110:1 where the Hebrew word that is translated “LORD” is YEHOVAH (Strong's 3068) which refers to the Tetragrammaton YHWH, the holiest name of God. The Hebrew word translated “Lord” in this verse is ADONAI (Strong’s #113).  This too is a holy title of God. It is a title reserved for God Himself. Abraham referred to God as “Lord” using the Hebrew term ADONAI in Genesis 18:27. Job too used the word ADONAI to refer to the Lord in Job 28:28.

 

The title ADONAI occurs 431 times in the Old Testament (Strong’s # 136 -  אֲדֹנָי [’Adonay /ad·o·noy/]). Of these 431 occurrences ADONAI is translated “Lord” 431 times, “lord” twice, and “God” once. This is a title used “in place of Yahweh in Jewish display of reverence.” [50]

 

If the above passage in Matthew is interpreted as Jesus pointing out that “Lord” simply means “sir,” it makes no sense and becomes even comical. Jesus is pointing out that Messiah is more than merely a respectable human being. If He is more than merely a respectable human, than what is He?

 

Scripture tells us that Jesus is not an angelic being. The following verses tell us that God did not give the position of sitting at His right hand to an angel:

·         Hebrews 1:1-3 – “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,  2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, . . . 13 But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?”

·          

·         1 Peter 3:18-22 – “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

The passage in Hebrews points out (by way of a rhetorical question in Hebrews 1:13), that God has not offered the place by His right side to any angel. In 1 Peter we see that Jesus is at the right hand of God and all “angels and authorities and powers” are “made subject to Him.”

If Jesus is in a position that no angel is called to go then He is not an angel. If Jesus rules over all angels and authorities and powers then He is superior to them. If in Colossians we have already been told that Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and that in Jesus “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9), and if Jesus Himself points out that a title is used in the Old Testament to refer to Messiah that is used only to refer to God, then the fact that Paul refers to Jesus sitting at the right hand of God supports the view that Jesus is equal with God and is God. Coming to the full knowledge of who Jesus is, is where we need to begin to launch off into a victorious Christian life and that is exactly why Paul begins the practical section of his letter to the Colossians with pointing the reader to seek those things or that Person Jesus, who is above, “sitting at the right hand of God.”

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus is God and we ought to worship Him as such with reverence and awe in every area of our lives.

Everywhere with Jesus – The Work of the Holy Spirit

Mark 16:20 – “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.”

As we mentioned earlier the followers of Jesus are all called to share the good news of the gospel and God’s truth wherever they go. These final words of the gospel point out one final tremendous truth. It states, “the Lord working with them . . .” We are not sent out alone, we are sent out going side by side with Jesus.

These words tell us Jesus went with the disciples but how can Jesus be with everyone all the time? How does He go with us and work with us? To answer this question we must consider the work of the Holy Spirit.

In the gospel of John Jesus is recorded to have said the following the night before He went to the cross:

 

  • John 14:15-16 - “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever”

 

These words are very blessed and significant because they answer our question about how Jesus goes and works with His followers.

 

The word “another” is significant. In the original Greek of the New Testament two words are employed to express the term “another.” One option is the term HETEROS (Strong’s #2087) which expresses the quality of the other referred to and means, “another of a different kind or sort.” This word is used when Paul refers to, “another gospel” - Galatians 1:6-7.

 

The other option to express the meaning of “another” is ALLOS (Strong’s #243) which expresses a numerical difference such as, “another of the same sort.” THIS IS THE WORD USED BY JESUS IN JOHN 14:16. (See also Romans 7:23 -another law; Acts 7:18 -                        another king).

The point to be made here is that the Holy Spirit brings the presence of Jesus into our hearts and lives when He indwells us at conversion. This is why it is so important to be BORN AGAIN (John 3). Without the Holy Spirit in us, we do not have Jesus in us (Romans 8).

The Three Transforming Works of the Spirit in the Believer

 

Let’s pause and look again at Jesus words in John’s gospel because they explain further how as followers of Jesus we go out with Jesus.  Jesus said:

 

·         John 14:16-17 – “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

 

Notice Jesus used two prepositions in the above passage to describe the relationship of the Holy Spirit with people. The Holy Spirit is “with” a person prior to conversion communicating God’s “truth” and persuading them of their need of salvation. The Holy Spirit comes “in” a person when they accept Jesus as Savior by faith and are born again. The Spirit comes “in” a person to regenerate them with eternal life.

 

Before we can examine the three works of the Spirit in the life of the believer, we need to consider the work of the Spirit in the unbeliever. The Spirit begins the work of salvation in the unbeliever by convicting the unbeliever of their need of salvation. Once saved, the Spirit begins the sanctifying process.

 

The Spirit’s Work in the Unbeliever – The Spirit “with” you

 

The first work of the Spirit in the unbeliever and the world is that of a Restrainer.  The Spirit works through the church to restrain evil in the world so that the world is not totally overcome with evil. This is supported by the following verses:

 

  • 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 – “And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.” 

“He who now restrains” is s reference to the Holy Spirit and His work in the world. The Holy Spirit creates an environment where evil is checked enough to allow a person to exert free will to make a decision regarding salvation.

The second work of the Spirit in regards to the unbeliever is that of Convictor.  The Spirit convicts the unbeliever of their need of a Savior. Jesus defined this work of the Spirit with the following words:

  • John 16:8-11 - “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:9 “of sin, because they do not believe in Me;10 “of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;11 “of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judge.”   

The Holy Spirit “convicts.” The word “convict” is translated from the Greek term ELEGCHO (Strong’s #1651 - ελέγχω elegcho, el-eng´-kho) meaning, “to confute, admonish; convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, reprove.”  [1] The idea conveyed by the word ELEGCHO is to “expose; refute, show one’s fault, [and] . . . convincing of that fault.”[2] We find the sense of this term in the following verses:

 

  • John 3:20 - “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” 
  • Ephesians 5:11 – “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” 
  • 1 Timothy 5:20 – “Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.” 
  • James 2:9 – “but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” 
  • Jude 14-15 – “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints,15 “to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” 
  • Revelation 3:19 - “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”  [3]

What is it that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of or exposes? The Holy Spirit convicts the unsaved world of three things.

First, “of sin because they do not believe in Me.” Jesus paid the penalty (death) for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2); the sin that dams to hell is rejecting the Spirit’s plea to accept Jesus as Savior (Mt. 12:31 – also called the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit). A persons’ eternal destiny is determined by whether or not they believe in Jesus. This is what the Spirit convicts the world of.

Second, “of righteousness because I go to My Father.”  Jesus died for the sins of the world and was raised from the dead. His resurrection indicates God was satisfied with His sacrifice for sin. Jesus then ascended to heaven and was seated at the right hand of God demonstrating that He is the standard and only acceptable means by which a person can enter heaven (Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33; 7:55-56; Romans 8:34; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 10:11-18; 1 Peter 3:22). The Spirit convicts the world that works are inadequate to make one righteous and gain access to heaven because the standard of righteousness is Jesus, nothing less will be acceptable. Nicodemas was a very religious man but Jesus said he needed to be born again (John 3). The Holy Spirit exposes the futility of trying to do religious works to make oneself acceptable before God.

Third, “of judgment because the ruler of this world is judged.” The Holy Spirit convicts the world that the god of this world, Satan was judged on the cross of Christ (Colossians 2:13-17). The hold of Satan on the unbeliever can be broken when a person accepts Jesus as Savior because when Jesus comes into a heart He is greater than Satan (1 John 4:4).

That is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the unbeliever. What does the Holy Spirit do in the life of a believer?

The Three Transforming Works of the Spirit in the Believer

 

There are three things the Holy Spirit does in the life of a believer to transform them to the likeness of Jesus Christ. There are three transforming works of the Spirit in the believer. They are as follows.

 

The first thing the Holy Spirit does in the life of a believer is INDWELLING them at conversion.  This is the “in” (Greek EN) experience referred to in John 14:17. In John 3 this work is described as being “born again.” Later in John 4:13-14 Jesus describes this experience as drinking “living water” that quenches the thirst for spiritual fulfillment in every human. In John 20:22 Jesus further describes this experience as receiving the Holy Spirit when He breathes on the disciples and tells them to receive the Spirit.  Disciples received the Holy Spirit as Jesus breathed on them. When the Holy Spirit comes to reside inside a person (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), the process (sanctification) of being conformed to the likeness of Christ begins and continues throughout life (Romans 8:29). The Spirit bears witness and communicates the heart and truth of Jesus to the believer (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-14). We are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). He works in us (Philippians 2:13). The power of the risen Lord Jesus is in us and it is the Spirit that brings that power to us (Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21). The love of Jesus works in us by the presence of the Holy Spirit in us (Romans 5:5). All these things are associated with the work of the Spirit in us.

 

The second thing the Holy Spirit does in the life of the believer is EMPOWERING the believer for service. As the believer is conformed to the likeness of Jesus by the Spirit, like Jesus the believer acquires a desire to be used by God to reach the lost in the world, to minister (Matthew 18:11; Mark 10:45; Luke 19:10). This is the “upon” (Greek preposition EPI) experience described by Jesus as tsunami like torrents of living water gushing forth from the believer and as dynamic empowerment of the believer (John 7:37-39; Acts 1:8). In order to minister like Jesus, the believer needs to be empowered by God. If the believer seeks to serve in his or her own strength they will be frustrated and fail (Romans 7). But the Holy spirit helps us with our weaknesses (Romans 8:26). They need to be supernaturally empowered and the Spirit provides that power. This power is invisible like the wind but powerful like a tornado (Acts 2). It is a fiery, purifying and cleansing of the heart by God. The believer surrenders their heart to God in faith trusting Him to work to destroy those challengers and hindrances to total trust in God (Acts 2; 15:8-9). The cleansing work of this empowerment attacks inhibitions and barriers between God and the believer. There is an essential empowerment for service subsequent to initial Spirit filling (Acts 1:8; 2). This empowerment involves Spiritual Gifting (Ephesians 4:7-13). This empowerment is the sufficiency of God’s grace revealed powerfully in our weakness (2 Corinthians. 12:9-10). The love of God working not only in us but also through us. This is the second work of the Spirit in the life of the believer.

 

The third work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is that of ONGOING REFRESHING. The believer needs to be refilled or daily renewed and filled with the Spirit who refreshes and empowers. Those empowered at Pentecost were refilled later (Acts 4). There are subsequent re-fillings and refreshing by the Spirit in the believer’s life. The sense of this ongoing third work is found in Paul’s inspired letter to the Ephesians when he states:

 

  • Ephesians 5:18 – “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,”  [4]

 

The word “filled” is translated from the Greek term PLEROO (Strong’s #4137  - πληρόω pleroo, play-ro´-o) meaning ”to make replete, . . .to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), . . . to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify . . . accomplish, . . . complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfill, (be, make) full (come), fully preach, perfect, supply.” [5] In addition to this definition, the grammatical form of the term “filled” (Present/Passive/Imperative) conveys the thought of an ongoing and constant (Present tense) work that the believer receives or has done to them (Passive voice) that is absolutely essential (Imperative mood). Therefore, to “be filled with the Spirit” means to be constantly, regularly, daily filled up, satisfied, furnished and supplied with the Spirit for one’s daily needs and God-ordained plans.

 

The impact of such a daily filling is conveyed in the book of Acts where those who had experienced the empowerment of the Spirit at Pentecost again pray for this ongoing empowerment and refreshing. In Acts it reads:

 

·         Acts 4:31  - “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”  

 

The New Transforming Life of the Spirit

 

This is the newness of the Spirit Paul is inspired to refer to in Romans 7:6. Is the Spirit in you? If you do not have the Spirit, you do not belong to God, you remain in your sins (Romans 8:9). Pray for forgiveness for your sins; put your faith in Jesus; receive the Holy Spirit and be born again.

 

Have you been empowered to serve the Lord? Are you frustrated and failing in your walk with God? Pray for His power and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Receive it by faith.

 

Have you been empowered but feel as though you’re running on empty? Pray for a refreshing and refilling of the Spirit in your life. Walk in the Spirit, filled and refreshed daily and receive this regular daily work by faith. Faithful is He who calls you to this and He will do it! (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

 

Sanctified Transformation by Faith

The primary distinction that needs to be made and upon which all success rests, is for the believer to realize that SANCTIFICATION AS WELL AS SALVATION IS BASED ON FAITH. Sanctification is something God does in us. In Paul’s opening inspired words he introduced this point by saying:

  • Romans 1:17 – “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” 

As we mentioned in the introduction to this epistle, God offers salvation to us in a gracious provision through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. A person is saved from their sin when by faith in Jesus Christ they admit their sin, repent of it, and accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Sanctification is no different in that advance with the Lord in the power of the Holy spirit by faith, by putting our trust in God to do what He has promised to do in and through us which is, conform us to the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:29) and use us as His instruments of righteousness to reach a world lost in sin (Romans 12-16).

Read the role of faith in God’s work in us in the sanctification process of life described in the following additional verses:

  • Acts 15:8-9 - “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,9 “and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” 
  • Acts 26:18 – “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ 
  • Galatians 2:20 - “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” 
  • Galatians 5:5 – “For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”

The sanctifying process of God in the believer takes place as the believer puts their faith and trust in God to do it. We surrender in faith to the Holy Spirit to do His holy work in and through us.

MARK THAT ACTION:  WE do not go out alone, Jesus is always with us by way of the Holy Spirit who is in us. The Holy Spirit will help us share the gospel and we ought cooperate with Him to work in and through us to stir a holy passion that follows the passion of Jesus.

Conclusion

The last verse of Mark’s gospel says, “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.” (Mark 16:20). These are the final words of the Gospel of the Person and Passion of Christ. We have seen that God’s plan for us is to be conformed to the likeness of His only Son Jesus (Romans 8:29). And so, as we learned about the Person of Jesus, who He is, in the first half of Mark’s gospel we became better informed about what we should go to God and ask of Him to implement in our hearts and lives so that we could become more like Jesus.

 

In the second half of this gospel we saw the passion of Jesus, His purpose and heart desire to see that plan fulfilled to His glory and our benefit. That same passion is what should fuel and fire our hearts to serve the glorious One today.

 

Oscar Hammerstein II once wrote:

 

Give me some men who are stouthearted men

who will fight for the right they adore.

Start me with 10 who are stouthearted men;

And I'll soon give you 10,000 more. [51]

We might apply that to our study of Mark’s gospel by saying:

Give God some people who are passionate people

who press on for the Christ they adore.

Let Him start  with 10 of these passionate people;

And He’ll soon give thousands more.

From my mouth to the Father’s ears and heart; may it be so. May the Holy Spirit empower and impassion us to press on for His glory. Amen.

 



[1]Strong, J. 1997, c1996. The new Strong's dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words (electronic ed.). Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[2]Swanson, J. 1997. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Logos Research Systems, Inc.: Oak Harbor

[3]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[4]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[5]Strong, J. 1997, c1996. The new Strong's dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words (electronic ed.). Thomas Nelson: Nashville

 



[1][1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[3]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[4]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[5]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[6]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[7]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[8]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[11]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[12]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[13] Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, (Nashville. TN: Thomas Nelson Pub.) 1999. p. 232

 

[14] Josh McDowell, Ibid. p. 232-233

 

[15] Josh McDowell, Ibid. p. 233

 

[16]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[17]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[18]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20] Don Stewart, What Everyone Needs To Know About Jesus, (Orange County, CA: Dart Press) p. 83-84

[21]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[22]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[33]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[34]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[37]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[38]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[39]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[40]Tense Voice Mood, (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship) 1994.

[41]Tense Voice Mood, (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship) 1994.

[42]Tense Voice Mood, (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship) 1994.

[43] Jon Courson, Tree of Life Commentary - Volume 2, (Jacksonville, OR: Tree of Life Publishing) 1993. p. 383

[44]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[45]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[46]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[47]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[48]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[49]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[50]Strong, J. 1996. The exhaustive concordance of the Bible: Showing every word of the test of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order. (Electronic Ed.) . Woodside Bible Fellowship.: Ontario

[51] The New Moon © 1927