The Greatest Surprise of All Time

What Does It Mean, He is Risen?

Mark 16



April 5, 2015 AM   Resurrection Sunday

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction (Mark 9:9,10; 31,32)


A.    Jesus predicted something awful was about to happen to Him


1.      His death on a Roman cross.

2.      But He never predicted His death, which was horrible to even think about, but He also always predicted His resurrection three days later (Matthew 16:21; 17:22,23; 20:18,19; Mark 8:31; 9:9,10; 31,32)!


B.     Now. For sure, NONE of His disciples understood what He was meaning when He spoke of rising again!


1.      Peter clearly did not understand (Mt 16:21,22)

2.      Thomas did not believe in Jesus living again. To Thomas, and to all people, when someone dies, they pretty well stay dead!

3.      So, Even in the end, when Jesus was captured in the garden of Gethsemane, ALL His disciples abandoned Him to the Pharisees and Romans. Not one of them believed everything was going to be okay! They all ran away knowing Jesus was doomed (Mark 14:44-50)!


C.    Today, a lot of people struggle with what it means that ‘Jesus is Alive’!


1.      What could that possibly mean?

2.      Surely a dead Man didn’t REALLY just get up by Himself, and walk right out of a sealed, guarded tomb!

3.      99% of our culture thinks the resurrection means absolutely nothing!


D.    Well, Jesus’ enemies knew what it COULD mean (Mt 27:63)


1.      And they were terrified of it

2.      Either a greater lie than Him being the messiah would be preached – that Jesus is alive…

3.      Or, the reality that they had just killed their very own Messiah!

4.      Josh McDowell said it this way, "The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted upon the minds of men and women, or it is the most fantastic fact of history."


E.     So, what does it mean, Jesus rose again?


II.    Background


A.    Jesus, the King of the Jews; the Messiah; He who was the Son of Man, AND the Son of God at the same time, died.


1.      For 9 hours, Jesus was tortured, beaten, whipped, spit upon, flesh ripped from His body, blood pouring down every inch, from the crown of His head, to the base of His ankles, and bare feet – Jesus was pushed to the very edge of death, and then was crucified.

2.      For 6 hours, Jesus hung there, nailed to a cross, cursed by man, and worst of all, cursed by God.

3.      And then it was over.

4.      All the crowds that had gathered to watch, and jeer at Jesus, went home.


B.     Jesus was Hastily Buried


1.      Then, quietly, secretly, one man, a very rich man named Joseph, of Arimathaea begged Pilate to be allowed to properly bury the body of Jesus

2.      Now, a second man, Nicodemas helped carefully wrap the body of Jesus in a white cloth, with 100 pounds of fragrant spices, and then placed the body in his Joseph’s own sepulchre, which was right near to the entrance of the Garden of Gethsemene.


C.    His Tomb Was Sealed


1.      And then a stone, a great stone was rolled over the mouth of the tomb

2.      And four solders, were posted around the clock guard over that stone to make sure no one opened it, ever!

3.      Jesus was not only dead, but very dead, and quite buried.


D.    Confirmed by dozens of eye witnesses


1.      All four Gospels record His death

2.      The Roman soldiers that took Him down from the cross and swore that Jesus was dead (Mark 15:44)

3.      The apostles

4.      Several women who watched

5.      Joseph and Nicodemas (John 19:38-42)

6.      The Pharisees were there confirming that the dead body of Jesus was permanently sealed in a grave! They actually recorded the death of the imposter Jesus in the Talmud (Record) of the Sanhedrin (Matthew 27:62-66)

7.      The ancient historian, Josephus, who wrote a history of the Jews in 90AD, recorded that Pilate crucified the leader of the sect called Christians.


E.     There was no doubt, no argument about whether Jesus had died

F.     But was THAT the end? You and I know better!


III. Message


A.    When the Sabbath Was Past… (Mark 16:1)


1.      Oh it is so nice when some things pass! When some things are just put in the past, and left there!

2.      Well, All the past three days

3.      All the darkness

4.      All the now empty rituals, and silent homes of those Jewish believers

5.      It was finally past…

6.      Sunday had come!


B.     Some Women Wanted to Honour Jesus (Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1)


1.      Now, these women were not stupid


a.       They knew Jesus was dead – He had been dead for more than three days now!

b.      They knew He was laid out in that sepulchre, hastily wrapped, and hastily anointed by Joseph and Nicodemas

c.       They knew there were Roman soldiers standing at the front of the tomb, keeping anyone from evert opening it ever again!

d.      They knew there was no way to roll the covering stone back even if they wanted to


2.      But they went anyway

3.      Something drove those women to go anyway, and take the first opportunity to honour the Man who had ever truly loved them, as messed up as they were


a.       Mary Magdalene – infested with demons and darkness

b.      Mary the mother of one of Jesus’ disciples named James the less

c.       Salome – wife of Zebedee - a brash, impertinent women who had thought only of what her sons James and John could get from Jesus in the coming kingdom

d.      And there was Joanna, who was married to a man who was a traitor to Israel

e.       These women just had one of those emotional times where they just had to do something


4.      They had spent hours all that past night carefully preparing perfumes and spices to anoint the body of their dead Messiah


C.    They Came at Sunrise (Mark 16:2)


1.      It was the earliest they could go

2.      Think about it… Such a quiet walk to the garden

3.      No one said anything

4.      Still reeling from the events of 3 days ago

5.      They probably all wondered if they would ever recover


D.    Hadn’t Thought Everything Through (Mark 16:3)


1.      When they got to the tomb…

2.      Looked around and saw they could walk right up to it – no guards were there to stop them


a.       At this point, the 4 roman soldiers were sleeping (Matthew 28:2-4)

b.      Hmmm. That made things easier


3.      But as they approached, they remembered the biggest hurdle – a 2 ton round stone that had been rolled in front of the entranceway of the sepulchre

4.      The stone was set inside a groove in front of the entrance, and secured from falling over by a stone wall that stood in front of tomb opening (the rolling stone was sandwiched between the tomb entrance and stone wall).  Often, the groove was not level, but slightly sloped.  To close the tomb, the stone would be rolled down the groove at a decline and come to rest in front of the entrance.  To open the tomb, the stone would have to be rolled up the groove at an incline.

5.      So, it would have been impossible for Jesus to simply push the stone over from the inside of the tomb.  He would have to roll the 3-4000 pound stone back up the groove without having anything to grip.  Such a feat would not be possible for one healthy man, yet alone a man who had just been beaten to a bloody pulp by the Romans.

6.      Just imagine the sight they now saw

7.      All the way to the tomb, they have been looking down.


E.     But Right Then, AS They Looked, the Stone Rolled Away by Itself! (Mark 16:4)


1.      Oh, it is so good to take a look sometimes at what you think is impossible!

2.      It is important to check a locked door to see if God has opened it lately for you in answer to your praying!

3.      They didn’t have to push it back – it rolled back on its own

4.      They didn’t have to go and try and convince the eleven depressed disciples to come help them move the stone…

5.      No. There it was, right then and there rolling backwards, up the slope, and revealing the entrance to the tomb

6.      It had been rolled back, just for them!

7.      They were gobsmacked – the stone was not a paperweight – it was GREAT / massive

8.      Matthew 28:2 says an angel pushed that massive stone back up the track, and into a locked position! They just didn’t see him at that moment!

9.      Notice what these women do next!


F.     They Go On In (Mark 16:5)


1.      Wouldn’t you go in?

2.      Some people don’t!

3.      Fear keeps people from exploring the most serious of things


a.       People study wars, economies, philosophies, sciences, weather

b.      Not many think about death, and about what happens after it

c.       They won’t consider where THEY will go when they die

d.      They won’t consider what is going to happen to THEM

e.       They run, to the pub, or to their buddies’ for a can and some hash

f.       When they really should go exploring


4.      God opens a door for you, and you walk away, missing the moment where God is trying to get your attention


a.       Maybe he has moved you to Ireland – you don’t like where God has you

b.      But the door opened – go on in


5.      They had come to wash and honour the broken body of their Lord – their best friend

6.      So, they had to keep going

7.      Finish what they started out to do!


G.    They Get the Greatest Surprise of All Time (Mark 16:5,6)


1.      They were surprised at the angel they met


a.       An angel was sitting in the cave of the tomb

b.      Smiling, happy, delighted

c.       As if he was sitting there just waiting for those women to find him there


2.      But then they noticed an even bigger surprise – unexpected!


a.       Right where the poorly wrapped body of Jesus had been, there was nothing now

b.      Everything was different than it had been 3 days earlier


1)      Bright sunrise instead of a dark sunset

2)      Tomb opened by itself instead of forced closed by Romans

3)      An angel was there where 3 days earlier, Jesus was abandoned with no one at His side

4)      The cloth Jesus had been wrapped in was there, dumped in a corner

5)      And the napkin that had been put over the torn face of Jesus, well, that was there too, all folded and laid to the side of the grave clothes

6)      And that was it.

7)      No body was there!


3.      And they were terrified!


a.       This was not what they expected!

b.      They SAW Jesus put in this grave

c.       They saw the stone rolled over the entrance


4.      And then the angel spoke, and they must have come out of their skin in fright!

5.      “I know who you are looking for”


a.       Jesus!

b.      He was crucified

c.       And well, he is not here! He has risen!

d.      He has gotten up from death!


6.      Check out the place where he had lain

7.      You won’t find Him here ever again


H.    They Get New Directions (Mark 16:7)


1.      Don’t be afraid anymore – this empty tomb should take all sorrow and fear away!

2.      Now get going, and tell His disciples what you have seen and heard

3.      And make sure you tell Peter – he NEEDS to hear this news bad! Why?


a.       Because Peter had so let down Jesus

b.      Peter felt there was no way back

c.       Ah, but as usually, Peter was so wrong!


4.      Jesus is heading back up to Galilee

5.      There you will see Him, just like He told you He would


I.       Mary Magdalene Stayed at the Sepulchre the Longest (Mark 16:8,9)


1.      Actually got to see Jesus – thought He was the gardener at first

2.      Then she heard His voice

3.      It pays to linger, and ponder the resurrection!!!


J.      No One Believed It At First (Mark 16:10,11)


1.      TOO unbelievable! After the kind of DEATH Jesus had gone through!


a.       The only way Jesus could have come out of that tomb would have been if he had just fainted on that cross – which they knew He didn’t do

b.      And then there were the guards

c.       And the sealed tombstone

d.      No! It just was NOT even imaginable!


2.      None of the Apostles Believed Jesus Was Alive


a.       Their “faith” had been destroyed when Jesus died

b.      His death was not what they wanted to believe in

c.       No matter how many times Jesus told them he would rise again after 3 days, they just chose not to believe it as possible

d.      And now, to hear that Jesus was “alive?” Well that was too much. Too painful!

e.       Especially coming from a bunch of emotional women that may have just jumped at a spider, or a shadow, but certainly not actually seeing a living, breathing, walking, talking Jesus!

f.       Isn’t it funny how few people in this room really, actually believe Jesus is alive?


3.      Even When Jesus Carefully Appeared to Two men on the Road to Emmaus


a.       But when they came running into the upper room, to the apostles, they wouldn’t believe THEM


4.      So Jesus finally appeared to His eleven apostles


a.       And BOY did He give out to them - upbraid

b.      He demanded them to feel the scars – this is no dream! I am not a spirit!

c.       And rebuked them for their UNBELIEF

d.      AND their HARDNESS of hearts, not accepting ALL the evidences they had


1)      John and Peter had personally gone and verified the women’s words

2)      They had found the tomb empty, the Roman Guards knocked out cold

3)      They found the linen cloth, and the napkin folded

4)      Yet they would NOT believe – a choice


IV. So, What Does His Resurrection Mean?


A.    It Means Jesus is Really Alive!


1.      I mean, living, breathing, walking, talking – THAT kind of alive!


a.       The torn flesh was gone

b.      The whelps and gashes were now missing

c.       The bloody and bruised skin was fresh and healthy looking!

d.      He was alive!


2.      And that’s when Jesus said, THIS is pretty good news, don’t you think? News a whole load more people need to hear?

3.      It’s such good news, it is called the GOSPEL


B.     It Means, Jesus is Right


1.      He Proved that His words are truth and right – not cunningly devised fables

2.      “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn't rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.” ― Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

3.      So, When He said HE is the only way to heaven in John 14:6, HE proved it

4.      No one else has ever been able to prove that they are right like Jesus did

5.      The bodies of Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Charles Taze Russell, Joseph Stalin, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, and even Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus—are all still in the grave.  Only in Christianity do we find a Resurrected Messiah.  “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

6.      All the scientists, all the philosophers, all the politicians, all the writers, all the movie stars, all the music stars – all lined up – are all only ‘noise’ compared to the truth that Jesus is Alive!

7.      What a life changing truth – a world shacking event!


C.    That Empty Tomb is Shouting Out, There Really IS Life After Death


1.      You can debate all your life what happens when a person dies…


a.       Do you just go into the ground and rot?

b.      Do you float around, haunting abandoned buildings and homes?

c.       Does your spirit transfer into the great Oneness of the Universe?


2.      But Jesus proves there is another world, another life, eternal life

3.      A life where Jesus is (John 14:1-3)


D.    It Means He Won the War (1Cor 15:55-57)


1.      He won every war you have ever struggled with!


a.       Every temptation – He resisted

b.      Every bad habit – He changed through the resurrection

c.       Every past failure – He buried in that tomb

d.      Every limitation you have – He exceeded when He got up

e.       Every wrong choice – He made up for


2.      He even Defeated every enemy you will ever face, including death itself

3.      You see, Jesus had no trouble fixing leprosy, epilepsy, cripples, blindness, deafness, chopped off ears, and even dead bodies.

4.      But this empty tomb, this rolled away stone proves JESUS defeated death, mangled mortality, gutted the grave, trashed the tomb, and He did it forever!

5.      There is nothing more to do once that grave was open!


E.     It Means, We All Have Been Given Another Chance (Acts 2:23, 36; 4:10)


1.      The Jewish leaders, the rich and powerful, the proud and arrogant…

2.      They were given another chance now to repent, and follow Jesus (Acts 2:37,38)

3.      The door is not closed. The tomb is still empty!

4.      Will you take this opportunity to believe the Gospel (Mark 16:16)?

5.      You can be saved from your sins, and from the coming wrath of God! “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”  (Rom. 10:9)

6.      The Apostle Paul said in Acts 17:31 “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”


F.     It Means We All Need to Live Differently (2Cor 5:14,15)


1.      Not just on a Sunday, but every hour of every day!

2.      That’s why Christians live differently than the culture around us – we have a living Saviour

3.      We stay out of step on purpose


G.    Lastly, That Empty Tomb Means, Jesus is Coming Again


1.      Just like He promised to rise again

2.      He also promised to come again

3.      Are YOU ready?


V.    Conclusion and Invitation


A.    There is no doubt, no argument about whether Jesus died!

B.     But there ARE a lot of people struggle with what it means that ‘Jesus is Alive’!


1.      Surely a dead Man didn’t REALLY just get up by Himself, and walk right out of a sealed, guarded tomb!

2.      99% of our culture thinks the resurrection means absolutely nothing!

3.      But He did!

4.      Dr. Greenleaf, the Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University, was one of the greatest legal minds that ever lived. He wrote the famous legal volume entitled, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, considered by many the greatest legal volume ever written. Dr. Simon Greenleaf believed the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was a hoax. And he determined, once and for all, to expose the "myth" of the Resurrection. After thoroughly examining the evidence for the resurrection — Dr. Greenleaf came to the exact opposite conclusion! He wrote a book entitled, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. In which he emphatically stated: "it was IMPOSSIBLE that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not JESUS CHRIST ACTUALLY RISEN FROM THE DEAD, . . ."


C.    Have YOU examined the evidences?
Do you ever just linger at the thought of the empty tomb like Mary Magdalene did? Thought about what will happen to YOU, when you die? Where will YOU go?

D.    Have you noticed the open door to you? Straight to God, through Jesus Christ!

E.     Have you gotten your Get New Directions?

F.     No One Believes It At First

G.    But believe it you can! Believe it you must! To be born again!