Sunrise is usually regarded as a moment of fresh hope. It signals the possibility that a new day will herald a new beginning and dispel the darkness of doubt and fear. Yet the women who loved Jesus and approached his tomb were firmly set in a mood of mourning. What could console them when faced with the death of Jesus? Sad devotion compels them to anoint his body in the conviction that his death was permanent. It occurs to them that there exists a barrier to their intention – the impossibility of removing the stone that sealed the tomb. Their way forward is blocked.
Looking ahead can fill us with apprehension when we discount the involvement of the Lord. Heavy concerns and weighty anxieties beset us. We see immoveable objects in front of us and become downcast. We assume our difficulties to be set in stone and disastrous results to be inevitable. Of course if we review our past many of our most horrifying fears did not come to fruition. But it is our tendency sometimes to be worried about the future and imagine the worst. We approach it with a kind of cold dread.
Mark’s narrative of the resurrection shows us that God beats us to the situations that fill us with care. Even though the women set out very early, Christ’s rising again had preceded their journey to the tomb. They were preoccupied with death, sorrow, and difficulty, but when they arrived at Jesus’ burial place – wonder of wonders – the awesome stone that stood defiantly in their way had been moved away – rolled aside so effortlessly by divine power.
Jesus had risen and departed the sepulchre. Such a stupendous fact filled the women with great alarm. This was a mighty act of God. But in due course the raising of the Lord Jesus would fill the women, the disciples, and all believers down the generations with enormous hope and confidence. The women saw that death had been conquered and that its terrible grip had been broken.
The angel on the right hand side of the grave reassured them: Don’t be alarmed. He is not here. Jesus had burst the bonds of death. The seal that keeps us in death’s prison forever has been snapped open. The locks and chains have been torn apart and thrown away. The huge and ominous stone that traps the dead has been heaved from the entrance to the pit of the departed and light permitted to shine in. Christ is risen and death no longer final. Life beyond death is the effect of Jesus’ defeat of death’s great power. Believers participate in his life now and shall do so for ever.
But life changes here also. Huge stones and big burdens of perplexity, anxiety, fear and guilt are rolled away, shaken from men’s bodies. We bear them with a sense of futility and trepidation but the risen Christ has faced them before we have felt them and he removes the obstacles to joy to the believer’s glad relief. The miraculous event of Easter daybreak becomes a breakthrough for those who cling to Jesus. We begin to see that Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection were for us and our liberation.
First, to put us right with God through the donation of his righteousness and free us from condemnation, but also to put things right in our present life. In due course alarm for the witnesses to the empty tomb would be dispelled and relief and reassurance would come when they were reunited with the One who rose again. “He is going ahead of you into Galilee” the angel announces, “There you will see him”.
Jesus is ahead of us in our cares and Jesus is ahead to encourage us. When each day breaks Jesus has already noted what we shall encounter and he is beside the believer in whatever occurs. We may not feel it as other emotions surge within us but faith knows the promises of God and these will eventually console. And in his resurrection power and mercy Jesus also takes care of the past that haunts and disturbs us.
Mary Magdalene can testify to that. Her notoriety as a sinner is erased. Her wrong doings are forgiven. A woman of ill repute is favoured to swear to the reality of Jesus’ emergence from the grave when even the testimony of a good woman was not credited as public evidence. The Sun of righteousness had risen and the beams of his compassion shone upon her and warmed her heart.
And guilt-ridden Peter, filled with dolefulness and remorse at his denial of Jesus repeatedly – what of him now that Jesus is returned from the dead? What may he expect before his risen Lord? The Saviour’s tenderness to the boastful coward is revealed in the angel’s instruction: But go, tell the disciples – and Peter (verse seven). Peter is singled out for special mention and compassion by the Lord he so wickedly grieved.
The comment is another clue to the fact that Peter is the voice behind Mark’s gospel. It is the compilation of interviews with the apostle – frank and duly ashamed.
Jesus rose again. It is a triumph to his glory.
Jesus rose again and opened heaven to believers and granted them eternal life.
Jesus rose again to win our forgiveness and woo us to his side.
Jesus rose again to share his life with us – and share in our lives – and remove our stumbling blocks to confident faith, freedom, and joy.
Jesus is risen, and the more we absorb that glorious truth, the more and more our hopes continue to rise in adversity, spiritual warfare, and anticipation of our death.
The divinity of Christ finds its surest proof in his resurrection [Romans 1:4]. Christ’s sovereignty also depends on his resurrection [Romans 14:9]. Again, our justification hangs on Christ’s resurrection [Romans 4:25]. Our very regeneration depends on his resurrection [1 Peter 1:3]. And most certainly our ultimate resurrection rests here [Romans 8:11]. The silver thread of resurrection runs through all the blessings, from regeneration onward to our eternal glory, and binds them together. - Charles Spurgeon.
We have in a risen Saviour the proofs of power beyond the most dreaded of all hostile powers – the power of death. As sure as Christ is risen, we are not in our sins. - John “Rabbi” Duncan.
The resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith, the foundation of our hope, the guarantee of everlasting life. It seals the strength and reliability of the One who saves us.