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Just as He Told You

Mark 16:1–8

James T. Batchelor

Easter: The feast of Resurrection, series B
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church  
Hoopeston, IL

view DOC file

Sun, Apr 5, 2015 

Christ has risen!  He has risen indeed, Alleluia!

Most faithful translations of the Bible have a strange note right after todays reading from the Gospel according to Mark.  This note will read something like this: Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:920.  There is a lot of evidence that Mark stops at verse 8.  Some commentators suggest that Marks account of the resurrection was so unsatisfying that later scribes added some notes to the text to help explain the ending.  A generation or so later, other scribes took these notes to be part of the text of the original Gospel account.

You can see why this is when you consider what this short version of Marks resurrection account actually says.  A few women purchased some spices after sunset on Saturday.  By the time the sun came up the next day, they were on their way to the tomb and wondering how to get past the stone over the entrance.  Then they discovered that the stone was already rolled away.  When they looked for Jesus body, there was an angel instead.  The angel explained that Jesus was no longer in the tomb because He had risen.  The women fled the tomb in terror and, for the time being, said nothing to anyone.  Thats it.  Thats all that we learn about the resurrection from the short ending of Mark.

At least in the other Gospels, the disciples see Jesus.  They talk with Him.  They eat with Him.  They touch the wounds of the cross in Jesus body.  The other Gospels record the words of Jesus for us to consider.  Not so, the short ending of Mark.  The stone is rolled away.  The tomb is empty.  There is a scary angel.  The women run away in fear.  I can understand a scribe wanting the reader to get the rest of the story.  He could at least add a note: See the Gospel according to Matthew or Luke for more information on the resurrection.

When you hear Marks short ending, you hear the announcement of the resurrection from the angel in the empty tomb.  Although Mark does not give you a whole lot, there is something special right at the end of the angels announcement.  Listen to the account again and pay special attention to the last few words that the angel says.  Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you. (Mark 16:57) Did you notice the last few words from the angel: Just as He told you?

The angel finished by reminding the people in the empty tomb that Jesus was keeping a promise.  Jesus was acting just as He said He would act.  All of the writers of the Gospel accounts record Jesus promising to rise from the dead.  Listen to these passages from Mark:

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. (Mark 8:31)

And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. (Mark 9:9)

For he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise. (Mark 9:31)

And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise. (Mark 10:3234)

The disciples heard these promises, but they didnt understand them.  It wasnt until after Jesus actually suffered, died, and rose that the disciples began to understand what Jesus was trying to tell them.  It is almost as if the angel is giving his hearers a mild rebuke.  You know, He told you about all this stuff beforehand.  He kept His promise to die and then rise.  You really need to think back on His other promises and expect Him to fulfill those as well.

This is the opposite of the serpents words to the woman in Eden.  He said to the woman, Did God actually say ? (Genesis 3:1) The angels who rebelled against God want us to question Gods Word.  They want us to believe that it doesnt always turn out the way God said.  They want us to doubt Gods promises.  They want us to look away from the source of Gods promises, the Word of God.  They want us to believe that it is NOT just as He told you.  They want to lead us away from the truth and so lead us away from salvation.

Here we see the difference between the faithful angels and the angels that rebelled.  The rebel angels question Gods Word.  The faithful angels point to the fulfillment of Gods Word.

Dont be surprised, then, when you have a hard time believing all His promises.  Dont be surprised when doubts arise.  This is a sign of the battle that continues in every Christian.  The disciples struggled and they saw Jesus face-to-face.  He had them in His seminary for three years.  They were still terrified when He died and shocked when He rose.  The promises that Jesus made to you may seem too good to be true.  You may struggle to believe them, but the resurrection of Jesus assures that He will keep every promise that He has made to you.

Jesus promised to rise from the dead, and then He kept that promise.  If He can keep a promise like that, we shouldnt be too worried that He will keep the other promises that He made, not only to the disciples, but also to you and me.  Here is where we need to listen to the angel in the empty tomb.  Jesus does things just as He says He will.

Jesus made some amazing promises.  For example He said, This is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:40) Just before He raised Lazarus from the dead, He said, 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 die. (John 11:2526) In the upper room, He taught His disciples and said, Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Fathers house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:13) With these words Jesus promised that a day will come when the universe as we know it will come to an end.  Jesus has promised to return on that day and raise all the dead.  He has promised to take me and all believers into eternal life.

Jesus promises are not just for the sweet by-and-by, but they are also for the here and now.  Matthew closed his Gospel account with the promise, Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

Jesus has given us special ways to know that He is with us.  On the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lords death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:2325) While we wait for the final day, Jesus has promised to give His body and blood along with the bread and wine of the sacrament.  He has promised that when the bread and the wine enter your mouth, that His body and blood are also entering your mouth along with the bread and wine.

The Holy Supper is not the only way He promises His forgiveness.  Listen to another promise that He made to His disciples.  Jesus said to them again, Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld. (John 20:2123) These words promise the authority to forgive sins.  Even though your pastor is just as sinful as you are, when he forgives your sins, Jesus Himself has forgiven them.

Listen to another promise Jesus made concerning His Word.  He said, If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:3132) When you hear the words of the prophets and apostles from the Bible, He sends the Holy Spirit to work in you through those words.  It is as the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write: So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

Jesus has even given us a way to give us Gods name.  He said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:1820) He has promised to pour the Holy Spirit out on you as His Word works with the water of Holy Baptism.

Jesus has made some amazing promises to you.  You would have no reason to trust His promises if it werent for one thing.  He promised to rise from the dead and He kept that promise.  The words of the angel remind us that Jesus will keep all of His promises just as He told you.

Christ has risen!  He has risen indeed, Alleluia!  Amen



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