The Gospel of Mark climaxes with Jesus conquering death. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the defining moment of the Gospel of Mark and of all history. Jesus being alive means through Christ each of us can have eternal life. Death is no longer the end. Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection made a way for you to be forgiven, to be redeemed, and to spend eternity with God. Praise God for our risen Savior! Will you receive God’s grace today? Then, will you boldly share His Good News with others? He has risen!
He Has Risen!
In the final chapter of the Gospel of Mark, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome journeyed to Jesus’ tomb with the intention of anointing his deceased body. It eventually occurred to them that there would be a stone in place at the entrance of the tomb, and they’d have no way to get in. But they faithfully went forward anyway.
But miraculously, they arrived and found that the stone had been rolled away. Roman guards had been placed outside the tomb, and breaking the Roman seal on the tomb would have been punishable by death. And yet, the tomb was open for the three women to enter. There is no plausible explanation for this, except that God had been at work! The women entered, but did not find Jesus’ body. Instead, there was an angel.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” (Mark 16:6-7)
Praise the Lord. Jesus conquered death! Consider just how amazing that is, and how you might have reacted to the news if you were one of the three women to first discover it. No one had ever defeated death before, and undoubtedly, this was difficult to process! Mark’s account tells us that the women fled, trembling and bewildered, and told no one what they’d seen, because they were afraid. The things of our God are so spectacular that truly can leave us speechless. But does it surprise you that the women reacted first in fear?
The Fear of God
Have you had a moment in your life when the fact of God’s existence hit you like a ton of bricks? Many of us shift between times of faith and times of doubt, but we have moments in our lives where we leave the status quo and things get real. Maybe it’s after recognizing spiritual warfare, hearing an audible word from God, feeling the prompting of the Holy Spirit, or witnessing a miracle.
We feel great conviction and awe as we come face to face with the truth of God’s Word, which shines so brightly that we cannot look away or bury it under distractions in our minds. The lens of the secular worldview falls from our eyes, and we see the world in spiritual light. It’s when we truly believe God’s Word is more than an allegory, and we feel the weight of our sin, and accept the Gospel as fully as we accept the sky is blue, that we have the fear of God.
Proverbs 9:10 tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. It’s a different sort of fear than we have of spiders or heights. It’s more like reverence. It’s a top-of-mind realization that we serve a real God, and we commit sins with real consequences, and that our actions have real, eternal meaning. And as mere men, limited by ourselves and our sinful nature, that is indeed a scary reality. But we have good news: that same God we fear has invited us to know Him, and He loves us. He loves us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to suffer and die for us.
Love Beats Fear
Fear may repel love, but God’s love is greater. 1 John 4:18 reads, There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. We don’t serve a vindictive god who threatens to strike us down the moment we do wrong. We don’t serve the god of “karma” which would give us only what we deserve. We serve a God who loves us enough to call us home, even in our sin and our denial of Him.
In Mark 14, we watched Peter fear man more than he feared God. He denied Jesus three times, because he did not want to suffer His fate, or be subject to the same ridicule at the hands of sinful man. Yet, in Mark 16:7, the angel in Jesus’ tomb commands the women, “Go, tell His disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you into Galilee.” Notice this: the angel said “and Peter.” Peter is a disciple, so why was he singled out? Maybe it was to make clear that Jesus offers forgiveness, even to those who deny Him many times.
The remainder of Mark shows us Jesus’ reunion with His disciples and others after the Resurrection, where Jesus reveals the Great Commission — the plan for His followers to bring the Gospel to the corners of the earth. Even though the disciples at first doubted His Resurrection, Jesus was not done with them yet. Let’s pray that we may all fear the Lord, so that we can discover how He loves. Let’s embrace the Great Commission, even and especially if we identify with Peter.