Gospel: Mark 16:1-8
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 [19-28]
Lesson: Isaiah 25:6-9
Psalm: Psalm 16 [118:1-2, 15-24]
CLB Commentary on the Gospel Text by Rev. Matt Richard
(Originally published in 2012)
When I was a child I would ponder Resurrection Sunday and think to myself, “I am sure glad the stone was rolled away to let Jesus out.” I imagined that Jesus came to life in the tomb and simply had to wait in the tomb to be let out! It is a funny thought to consider, however, I often wonder if this is what the average person in the pew may also consider when it comes to the purpose of the rolled stone and empty tomb.
In Mark 16:1-8 we see that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James came to the tomb to anoint Jesus with spices. As they journeyed to Jesus’ tomb they discussed who would role away the stone for them in order to access Jesus’ body. The stone was perceived as a great obstacle. Upon arrival they noticed right away that the stone had been moved for them. As a result they entered the tomb where they encountered a young man (i.e. angel) who revealed to them that Jesus was not present.
With the context of scripture we need to keep in mind that most likely ‘before’ the stone was taken away Christ’s soul and body were reunited. After Christ’s body and soul were united, Christ descended into hell not for the purpose of suffering any evil but to triumph over the demons and the devil (1 Peter 3:18-20, Col. 2:15). According to Hollaz, “The descent of Christ into the lower world is the true, real, and supernatural movement by which Christ, having been freed from the chains of death and restored to life, in His entire person betook Himself to the lower regions that He might exhibit Himself to the evil spirits and to condemned men as the Conqueror of Death.” This leads us to the question of “why was the stone removed?” If Jesus was resurrected before the stone was rolled away why then was it removed? It was removed not for the sake of Jesus but was taken away for us! It was rolled away to show the followers of Jesus and reveal to all people the victory that Christ had obtained over sin, death and the devil. It was as if the curtain was pulled back so God could reveal what His suffering servant accomplished on the Cross!
In thinking about the blessing of the resurrection and the empty tomb we can also consider the following Gospel Nuggets:
- The Resurrection And Empty Tomb Are Powerful Proof Of Jesus’ Divine Savior-ship: In Romans 1:4 we read, “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.” Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the beatings, the mess of death and the Cross is powerful proof that asserts His deity and the achievement of His redeemable labor.
- The Resurrection And Empty Tomb Confirms That Jesus’ Teachings Are True: The resurrection and empty tomb of Christ are validations of all of scripture and all that Christ taught. Not only was Salvation History fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Christ but also all of Christ’s teachings are validated by the divine and miraculous events of the resurrection. The empty tomb was like icing on the cake, a stamp of approval or a signature on the dotted line to validate, confirm and cement all of scripture and all of the teachings of Jesus as authoritative, binding, powerful and divine.
- The Resurrection And Empty Tomb Validate Christ’s Passive Obedience: At the Cross, Jesus who knew no sin was made to be sin for us and He was judged and condemned by God the Father. The resurrection and ascension of Christ to the Father grants us comfort because we see that Christ is no longer found bearing our sins. When Jesus arose, He arose without our sin hanging, like a monkey, on His back. Jesus rose and ascended to the Father and sits in complete harmony with the Father. THEREFORE, in Christ we can have complete comfort that our sins have been truly put to death and we have peace with God.
- The Resurrection And Empty Tomb Validate Christ’s Active Obedience: Because Jesus lives He continually presents our needs to the Father, defends us and prays on our behalf granting us continual reconciliation to the Father! “If Christ would have remained in death, He would not be able to apply righteousness to us…Rom. 5:10, 8:34.” But since Jesus does live, His righteousness (i.e. His obedience to God’s Law) is by no means an empty idea or lifeless bank account of merits. Instead, this righteousness is Jesus’ personal possession, which He gives to us, Credits to our accounts!
- The Resurrection And Empty Tomb Grant Assurance: John 11:25-26, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never [never] die. Do you believe this?’” What I love about John 11:25-26 is that there is a dual negative in the original Greek; whoever believes in Christ will “never, never” die! The truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries. Jesus’ resurrection is a foreshadowing of what is to come for us; Life, not death. Because of Jesus, we who die in Christ, the sinless one, have the promise that we will never, never die. When we die we are rid of this body of sin and death and are promised a resurrection unto eternal life. This is our assurance.