Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR
The Resurrection of Our Lord – April 21, 2019
Text: Mark 16:1-9
Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
As Americans, we are used to having options to choose from. If you were going to buy a car, you wouldn’t want to be told that there was only one model that ran; the rest will break down in a year. If you were going out to eat, you wouldn’t want to be told that there was only one restaurant to eat at; the rest will make you violently ill. If you were going to find a church, you wouldn’t want to be told that salvation was only to be found in one; the rest are leading people to hell. While the first two examples are not true, the third is. There is only one church, and one Jesus in whom salvation is found.
JESUS OF NAZARETH, WHO WAS CRUCIFIED, IS NOT HERE; HE HAS RISEN.
- Which Jesus are you coming here to find?
- “When the
Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought
spices, so that they might go and anoint [Jesus].” (v. 1)
- These women had been with Jesus for much of His ministry. They heard Him teach. They saw Him cast out demons, heal the sick, and heard how He had raised the dead. At the cross, Mark tells us “When Jesus was in Galilee, [these women] followed him and ministered to Him” (Mk. 15:41). They saw Him die and be placed in the tomb.
- But in all of their hearing, seeing, and ministering, what did they perceive? Did they see the “valiant One whom God Himself elected”? (LSB 656:2) Did they see “the Son of Man” who “has authority on earth to forgive sins”? (Mk. 2:10) Did they hear His words when He said, “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”? (Mk. 9:31) Or was it another Jesus they perceived?
- The Jesus they bought anointing spices for was still in the tomb. He had been overcome, defeated, eliminated. He wasn’t powerful enough after all to be a savior. Just like everybody else that they knew, this Jesus had died. He was just a charismatic guy with long hair, a beard, and a robe—just like they always show him on television—nothing more.
- Which Jesus do you think you’ll find?
- Now that we’ve gotten up early this morning, perhaps put on something special, eaten some excellent food…which Jesus did we come here to find?
- The Jesus of pop culture? Long hair, beard, white robe, chiseled features… This is the Jesus who is acceptable to all, even Hindus, but you’re never quite sure what He teaches besides a generic message of love and tolerance. He gets dragged into attacks against Christians who have biblical convictions. His Word gets used as a weapon to support your opinion with Scripture taken out of context. This Jesus came to bring peace, but when men were done with him, they killed him and left him in the tomb.
- The Jesus of the Spiritual-but-not religious? This Jesus is popular with those who want to call themselves a “Jesus follower” or a “Christian” but would rather go their own direction. They’re upset that the Church of Jesus doesn’t meet their expectations, so they don’t associate with others. This Jesus doesn’t tell you how to live your life. Yet, in not warning you to repent, he’s going to let you stand naked before the judgment seat of God. This Jesus died, and can’t find his way out of hell.
- The Jesus of Conservative Values? This Jesus stands up for what he believes is right. He campaigns against same-sex marriage, he’s at all the right-to-life rallies, but he also puts up billboards bashing the godless left-wing. He doesn’t say much besides that. In this Jesus’ mind, loving your neighbor is fulfilled in telling them that they’re wrong and they should agree with him. This Jesus is all Law and no Gospel, and unfortunately for him, the law always condemns the sinner. He’s not getting up after Good Friday.
- “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint [Jesus].” (v. 1)
- “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” (v. 6)
- Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, and Salome did
not find the Jesus they were seeking.
- It’s a good thing that they were wrong. They were ready to despair that not even God could save them from the power of sin, death, and Satan. Mary Magdalene, from whom the evangelist later says Jesus cast out seven demons (v. 9), was ready to have them come back knocking. But the Jesus they followed was not the limited Jesus of their imagination.
- No, the young man clothed in white brought a message that they could never imagine for themselves. They were lost and couldn’t find themselves. They were guilty under the Law and couldn’t forgive themselves. They were dying, and they couldn’t keep themselves alive. But these are the very things which this Jesus of Nazareth was crucified for! His being delivered into the hands of men, His painful crown of thorns, His being crucified under Pontius Pilate, His shedding of blood, and His dying—were to bring eternal salvation for all! His ministry had been about more than cleansing a few lepers, healing a few sick people, and raising a few dead people. And this is the message which the young man proclaimed to them when He said “He has risen, He is not here.”
- The Jesus of our imagination is not what we find
- All of the ideas about Jesus that people come up with cannot compare with this Jesus of Nazareth. If left to our own understanding, we cannot know anything except law and God’s judgment. We cannot find forgiveness for ourselves, and we are unable to offer it to anyone else. That’s why Pop Culture Jesus has no true comfort to offer. Spiritual-but-Not-Religious Jesus never leaves the confines of his own imagination and knows neither his own sin nor the life-giving power of true forgiveness. And Conservative Values Jesus has forgotten what the name Christian means in his pursuit of a “Christian nation.” Thankfully, none of these Jesuses is what you will find on Easter.
- The proclamation of Easter of Jesus of Nazareth is this: He is not here in the grave where you think He is. He is risen from the dead, never to see death again. And that’s where there is true comfort and good news for you, a sinner.
- Because He is risen, Your sins cannot stick to you. You have been crucified with Him, and you died there with Jesus of Nazareth. And if you are crucified with Him, then you are not dead; you are risen with Him.
- Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, and Salome did not find the Jesus they were seeking.
The women who ministered to Jesus thought they would find no more than a reason to weep, but they left with astonishment because the Jesus of Nazareth who they knew was their God and Savior. He had borne their griefs and carried their sorrows; He left them there on the cross and rose to new and eternal life.
No matter which Jesus you may have thought you’d find this morning. Jesus of Nazareth is the one who is not in the grave. He is risen from the dead! He risen for you to rise with Him. Truly, Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! Amen.