LESSON 4: Mark 16:1–8
TIME: A.D. 30
HIGHLIGHTED TEXT: “Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him” Mark 16:6.
INTRODUCTION: One of the events that accompanies the Christmas season is the presence of holiday movies on TV. They are fairly predictable as far as their endings are concerned. The right couple always ends up together, but almost always there is an interruption of the relationship by some disappointing turn of events. The resolution arrives, and everything turns out the way we hoped. We have not been reading a movie plot in the book of Mark, but rather historical information. We have now reached the climactic moments of this Gospel, and things are going to turn out just as we hope they would. There is nothing more important or satisfying to believers than reading about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the central fact of Christian history. On it the church is built; without it there would be no Christian church today.”
RELEVANT EXPOSITION: It was the worst sound anyone could ever hear. Someone had died, and people were mourning loud and uninhibited, with wails of loss and despair, they sorrowed as those who had no hope. The mourning lasted far beyond that day and night. For the people of their religion, there would be further times of remembering the dead, special anniversaries of the day and year the person died. There were special works or prayers that were intended to enable the person’s soul to be accepted into heaven but no assurance that they would be successful. That night contrasted starkly to my experience going to so many Christian and family funerals in the same town, city and state. I stood near a grave, and though people sorrowed, they did not wail and groan. I remember glancing up and seeing some people around the graveyard. What did I think as I watched people sorrow but not without hope? Right there, they were seeing the gospel in action. Without a word spoken, our faith was on display.
Oh, the power of the resurrection! Oh, the hope of it! More than anything else, the resurrection marks the fork in the road, the intersection where all must choose the broad way or the narrow path. It is what separates Christianity from all other beliefs. People can go on pilgrimages to Mecca to see the tomb that houses Muhammad’s decaying dead body. Buddhists can travel to Sri Lanka to the Temple of the Tooth to view a relic shrine of one tiny part of his body. Confucius’s body is in China. Most of the popes are buried in the Vatican. Some Christians may travel to look at tomb in Israel, but they will not find a body to venerate. Jesus is not there! I love how the early Christians would greet one another with the words “He is risen” and the response “He is risen, indeed.”
In all our teachings and instructions, let us never forget that the resurrection is not just a doctrine to dissect and define, but also a hope to live. Because of the resurrection, death has no hold on us! The grave has no victory! We have the message of eternal life to give to the world! That is why the gospel is such good news! Those who wail in despair need that message of hope. Those who face death, their own or that of someone they love, need the message of eternal life. Our faith has something to offer that no one else can; a living Savior! Jesus is not a great prophet whose teachings we strive to emulate and whose life is over and done. No! He is living today and lives forever. Because of Him, we have hope and life to offer to the world.
In conclusion, the study of Christ’s resurrection leads us to rejoice because we know that since He is alive and will live forever, our faith in Christ is secure forever. Let us spend some time at the close of the study thanking the Lord Jesus for His resurrection and for the assurance that it gives us of our salvation. Let us remember the details of the discovery by Jesus’s followers of His resurrection and promise for the future. Let us feel the devastating loss experienced by the women as well as the relief that comes from understanding how faith in God helps Christians survive their loss. Finally, let us tell one another stories of grief to encourage and strengthen one another with the assurance of good things to come through Jesus Christ.
Dr. Danette M. Verchér, PhD., Superintendent of Christian Education Treasures of the Heart International Ministries — www.TOTHM.org