I. The Story
Perhaps it happened something like this….
Mary took the steaming kettle off the fireplace.
She poured it over the coffee grounds and into her mug.
Then, added a little milk.
There wasn’t time to wait for it to cool.
She needed to be awake, functioning, and on the road before the sun was up.
And she was exhausted.
The last few days were rough.
Staying up late.
Lots of crying.
She missed her friend.
He had been forcefully taken before she could say good-bye.
He had been shoved in a dark room.
In a sense, it was like he was quarantined.
No one could get in.
No one could get out.
But unlike a quarantine, there wasn’t going to be an end to this darkness.
He was dead.
Her mind kept replaying what she had seen. (Mark 15:40)
Jesus had been taken by a mob of soldiers.
Jesus had been condemned by a group of priests, church elders, and lay people.
Jesus had been nailed – hand and foot to a cross.
Jesus had been locked in a tomb never to be heard from again.
She missed him….
The tears might have begun flowing again had it not been for the interruption.
Mary! We’re here. Are you ready?
It was her friends.
Salome and another Mary. They called her Magdalene.
Mary grabbed the heavy cloak of her son James, wrapped it around herself, and walked out.
Do you have what we need?
Yesterday they had bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. (Mk. 16:1)
I still can’t believe the deal we got…
Normally it’s one bottle for a kopek.
But Mary did such a good job haggling with that vendor…We got two bottles for one kopek
And have you ever seen balsam at such a good deal?
Mary shot her a look.
Now wasn’t the time...
They approached the garden quietly, remembering where they had seen them lay his body. (Mark 15:47)
Turn at the olive tree.
Over the little hill
Past the rose bushes.
As they approached the final turn, the conversation turned practical:
“Who will roll the sone away from the entrance of the tomb? (Mk. 16:3)
It was rather large.
Big enough to cover a doorway.
Big enough that you couldn’t just move it.
Big enough that no one person could move it.
Perhaps they could convince the Roman soldiers.
Mary, you could practice your haggling skills once more!
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. (Mk. 16:4)
At this, Mary Magdalene screamed!
How could they do this?
They must have stolen his body!
They just wanted to add insult to injury.
They probably took it out and are going to display it on a pole somewhere for everyone to see.
It’s too much.
I can’t handle it.
I’ve gotta tell the disciples!
She turned and ran away. (John 20:1-2)
But the other Mary grabbed the hand of Salome.
She squeezed it.
Together they walked forward to investigate.
As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. (Mk. 16:5)
Mostly because nicely dressed young men aren’t usually sitting inside a tomb.
Usually, they are wearing strips of linen cloth within a burial site.
And usually, the person inside the tomb isn’t sitting.
Because they’re dead.
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. (Mk. 16:6)
They women’s eyes followed his gesture to the rock where his body was supposed to have been.
Just the linen cloths.
Their eyes darted around the room.
There was no sign of forced entry.
No sign of a footsteps.
No indication that grave robbers had been there.
There was nobody.
“Go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” (Mk. 16:7)
The women looked at one another could it be true.
Each of them was trembling. (v.8)
Could it be?
Did he do it?
Was Jesus alive?
The women hurried away from the tomb…
They ran past the rose bushes.
They sprinted up the hill.
They darted past the olive tree.
They went as fast as they could.
They were afraid yet filled with joy. (Mt. 28:8)
Because Jesus was no longer dead.
Jesus was alive.
II. Facing Death
The Easter story is more than just good news for the women.
The Easter story is good news for us.
And you can find that good news within the angel’s words.
TRUTH: Jesus was crucified.
Did you know this past year that over 2.81 million people died from COVID alone?
And so far this year, the running total for all known deaths worldwide, is above 14.4 million? (Worldometer.com)
That’s a lot of death.
But consider the numbers of those affected by death.
People who have lost loved ones.
Who stayed up late crying over an old photo album.
Who broke into tears any time a favorite song played.
Who lost sleep trying to figure out what to do next.
Who lost a mom, a dad, or a child.
Maybe you know that firsthand.
Jesus knew it too.
He knew your pain too.
This why Jesus came to earth.
He saw your pain.
He saw your hurt.
He saw your fear.
All of it caused by death.
And he wanted to do something about it.
By taking on death.
That’s exactly what he did!
These women are the witnesses of this.
They saw the blood dripping from his right hand.
They saw the blood dripping from his left hand.
They saw the blood coming from his feet.
They saw the crown of thorns mangled against his brow.
They saw his eyes - bloodshot and tired.
They saw sweat covering his abdomen.
They saw him laboring to breathe.
They saw his body start to tremble.
They saw him breathe his last.
And then, they saw his body taken into the grave.
Just like so many others.
Just like all others.
Jesus was dead.
III. …and Coming Out Alive
But I want to draw your attention to angel’s words one more time. He said, “You are looking for Jesus who was crucified.”
That’s an imperfect verb.
It describes an action that took place in the past…
With occurring results in the past…
That are no longer true in the present.
Last night, I was eating a Reece’s chocolate egg.
I could taste it at the time.
But I can’t taste it anymore.
It isn’t in mouth.
As you can see.
Or another example…
I was seated on the couch last night.
It was comfy.
My dog joined me.
But currently, I am standing.
No couch in sight.
Jesus was crucified.
He was dead.
But no longer.
Jesus has RISEN.
He did what no one else could do.
What no warrior could do.
What no king could do.
What no president could do.
What no athlete could do.
What no celebrity could do.
What no social media advocate could do.
What no scientist could do.
What no doctor could do.
What no vaccine could even do.
He entered death and came out alive!
And so will you.
Not on your own.
On your own death will defeat you.
But by faith in Jesus…
Remember -- we confessed it earlier in this service, the “wages of sin is death.” The whole reason that death was in this world in the first place was sin. Our sin.
But Jesus took our sin to the cross.
He killed it.
And he left it in the grave.
He came out alive.
But your sin did not.
In Jesus, you will not die.
In Jesus, you will live.
One more verb tense. Look at the next verb that the angel uses:
He IS not here.
That’s present tense.
As in, “Presently, right now, this moment as I talk to you women. Jesus lives.”
Why would he be?
If he were alive, and he is, why would he be inside a place for dead people? (He isn’t.)
Jesus is NOT in the tomb.
He wasn’t at the time the women spoke to the angel.
He wasn’t the time this was written down.
And is not in the tomb now.
Jesus is alive.
Jesus is taking care of his people.
Jesus is taking care of you.
He’s with you while you face the pandemic.
He’s with you while you face job loss.
He’s with you while you face relationship struggles.
He’s with you while you face death.
He’ll be with you after death….
IV. What Now?
Because one of the scariest things in this world is death.
A while earlier, I was talking to someone who had COVID.
They were older.
They had preexisting health issues.
They were in need of medical care.
‘Pastor,’ they said, ‘I’m tired. I’m sick. I’m anxious for my kids.”
But, “Pastor,” they said, “I’m not scared.”
Because if I die…
When I die…
I know that I will live.
Because I know that Jesus lives.
They were right.
Jesus said this, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. And whoever lives and believes in me, will never die.” (John 10:25-26)
I don’t know if you’ll get COVID.
I don’t know if or when you’ll die.
But I do know this.
You will live.
There’s no doubt.